As an agency, one of the trends that we’ve seen emerge during lockdown, has been the surging popularity of podcasts.
UK podcast listenership reached an estimated 15.6 million listeners in 2020, with around 18% of British adults now listening to podcasts on a weekly basis. It’s therefore no surprise that brands are seizing the opportunity that podcasts deliver, in terms of audience reach and building a loyal following.
In March 2021, Apple Podcasts was hosting 1.96m separate podcasts and over 47m episodes, including Pinstone’s Agri-Food Comms Cast which we launched in May 2020.
Reaching your audience
Podcasts succeed in capturing the same audio intimacy you experience with regular radio programmes, where listeners develop a relationship with the presenter. This has been incredibly reassuring during lockdown. As well as offering a welcome on-demand, screen break, podcasts also benefit from being able to focus on niche, specialist subjects. This makes them the perfect format for targeting b2b audiences; something several of our clients have capitalised on over the past twelve months.
However, as with all things in the digital sphere, nothing stays static for very long and new technologies and platforms continue to emerge. As communications professionals, it’s important to be able to navigate our way through the ever-evolving media landscape, especially when advising clients where to allocate their marketing budget and resource.
In season 2 episode 3 of the AFCC, Catherine dissects the airwaves with three guests who all utilise audio platforms as effective assets in the comms toolbox. Our panellists explore how the new kid on the block – Clubhouse – measures up against the trusted podcast medium.
Clubhouse exclusivity – a help or hinderance?
Part podcast, part conference call, part social media app, Clubhouse has been making waves since it launched in March 2020 – a somewhat serendipitous timing in hindsight!
Operating an exclusive invite-only membership, Clubhouse currently has around 6m users. It has already gained the attention of some tech heavyweights including Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk. Once onboard, the audio-chat app enables users to either initiate or listen to conversations or a combination via different ‘rooms’.
Two of our AFCC guests, Alison Teare, marketing director and podcaster at Simply Marketing and former BBC post-production specialist, James Sopp, now a digital marketer at Buzzin Digital even met on Clubhouse.
As Alison explains; “It’s a hugely useful networking tool, and what you get with voice, above all else, is that connection… it’s far greater networking tool than Twitter, LinkedIn or any other social media platform I’ve used.”
Being able to share conversations, pick topics or identify specific groups or demographics that you want to reach obviously has real benefits for building your professional network. However, cutting through the hype, Clubhouse is currently only available to ISO devices – making it instantly unavailable to 50% of the population.
I like our third guest, Russell Goldsmith, founder of Audere Communications and host of the csuite podcast, am an Android user. So, Clubhouse’s exclusivity to Apple is a sizeable shortfall in terms of audience reach. Admittedly, it’s early days, and developers plan to roll out an update of the system to fill this huge gap in its potential user-base.
However, when marketing a brand, inclusivity is an important consideration. Therefore, not alienating your existing customer base is essential. As Russell summarises:
“The exclusivity works for Clubhouse, not the brand.”
Do we have time for another social media platform?
All three of our podcast guests agreed that audio – on whatever platform – presents a compelling case for effective brand communications. As technology advances, more and more consumer electronics will become audio instructed. It is a direction of travel that is already translating into how we’re consuming broadcast and social feeds.
This rapidly changing landscape will only become more fragmented over the coming months and years. Therefore, now is a good time to audit your current social channels. As Alison says:
“Identify where your audience is and how they consume information. It’s time to revaluate your resources and how they’re being allocated.”
This process will identify whether it is time to exit certain platforms and make the transition to new ones. One thing’s for sure, many brands will need to adapt and hone-in on what their audience wants and needs.
At Pinstone, we’ve repeatedly demonstrated that podcasting offers a cost-effective route to b2b audiences and any tools that open up a wider dialogue are hard to ignore. Identifying the conversations, that you want to be part of is key to success. Platforms that offer this level of interaction between brands and their customers is an exciting prospect.
Cutting through the noise: Clubhouse summary
- Great for professional networking
- Two-way real-time dialogue adds value to user experience
- Provides an opportunity for developing meaningful customer engagement
- A great extension to run in tandem with a podcast to initiate discussion and audience interaction
- It’s the ‘shiny new toy’ so has a real buzz associated with it
- Invite only exclusivity – seen as elite
- IOS exclusivity risks alienating existing Android customers
- All activity ‘live’ so needs to be scheduled into calendar
- Currently no analytics, so difficult to measure success
- It’s the ‘shiny new toy’ and likely to be replaced by other competitive platforms (Twitter Spaces / Instagram) – may not stand the test of time