You’ve Probably Never Listened to a Podcast. But That’s About to Change.
According to a study this year about podcast listening, 36% of the American population has ever listened to a podcast.
So yes. It’s likely you’ve never heard a podcast. However, over the course of the last few years, that number has crept higher and higher. That means that some of you reading this will find this article to be wholly uninspiring but hopefully those in the 64% will learn something.
Let’s start with a brief podcast FAQ –
What is a podcast?
Essentially a podcast is a recorded audio program available for download from the internet. It’s synonymous with what some of y’all may know as talk radio but it’s not broadcast. Rather it is released a single file that you can listen to from start to finish.
Why are they called podcasts?
Originally these programs were available primarily through iPods. So the word is a portmanteau between the word “iPod” and “broadcast.”
How do you listen to a podcast?
The most common way to listen to them is by going through the iTunes store (if you’re on an iPhone) or another podcasting app (if you’re on an Android.) Once you download an episode, you’d listen to it just like you’d listen to a song on your phone or iPod.
Are there podcast “stations” like a radio?
No. Rather than tuning in to a specific station, you go straight to the people that publish it and download it from them. Most podcasts are presented as a series of episodes within a season. (Kind of like a TV show.) So maybe the best way to think about them are downloadable audio-only TV episodes.
How is this different from the radio?
Really it comes down to two separate things.
- The content is on-demand, so you can listen to it whenever you want
- Each podcast is generally on a very specific topic, so you can satisfy a particular curiosity that you may have in lieu of letting a talk show host decide.
What are examples of the most popular podcasts?
The most popular podcasts change on a daily basis! For an idea of which podcasts are popular right now, check out this website.
So what’s behind the rise in podcasts?
That’s a fantastic question and one that has a multitude of answers:
- The number one factor has got to be the investment required to record a podcast. Recording a podcast can be done literally on your iPhone. What about a TV show? Millions of dollars. Radio show? Tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars. Podcast? As low as 0. So the number of podcasts recorded is unbelievable. I know some people who record podcasts in their closet.
- Content fragmentation continues to dominate. For those of you around long enough to remember the days before cable, you’ll regale us of a time when TV only had 5 channels. What about now? Try 1,000. Symbolically, content is getting more targeted for the audiences. Podcasts allow people to learn deeply about the niches that they want to.
- We live in an on demand world. You can get everything when you want it. Be it a car (Uber), meal (Grubhub) or anything else, our society has evolved to reward consumers immediately. (I believe it was Rascal Flatts who starts a song “Sometimes it feels like this world is spinning faster than it did in the old days.”) Podcasts are just another example of how people get what they want when they want it.
- Mobile. Mobile. Mobile. Mobile. Mobile. I feel like a broken record on this one. I don’t know how many different ways I can say this, but mobile is everything these days. Podcasts can be listened to wherever you are because they’re downloaded onto your phone. And the best part is that this includes places like your desk, your car, and your couch (places where you have access to other media as well!)
- This one may be the biggest stretch but I fundamentally believe urbanization plays a role here as well. For the people I know who listen to podcasts regularly, the most common time they do it is during their commute. As more and more commutes involve public transportation and walking, traditional media like radio will suffer. Being able to listen to something in a subway (without phone signal) is an important factor.
So what’s the skinny for franchises?
From a franchising perspective, I’m seeing two main opportunities:
- Try recording a podcast about your franchise! As I mentioned above, podcasting represents the least expensive media creation opportunity out there. You could even do it right now at your desk. Yes it’s true that coming up with compelling content that people want to hear about isn’t a trivial task, so record more than one! Ask a bunch of different people around your concept to record them. You never know. Maybe your franchise’s podcast will be the next marketing innovation.
- Podcasts offer a new targeted advertising opportunity. Why do franchises like advertising in a publication like Entrepreneur magazine? Because it has an audience that is interested in opening a business. There are lots and lots of podcasts about entrepreneurship and other business topics. You can reach out to these podcasts and ask about sponsoring an episode or even a full season. There aren’t commercials per se, but the host generally plugs your company at the beginning of the episode as well as throughout.
Good luck with your podcasting! (And while you're at it, check out this podcast called Franchise Today.)
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