Edison study shows 11% increase in podcast audience from 2006
One of the difficulties with being an avid podcaster is that podcasting hasn't seen a lot of innovation in the last few years. Oh, sure, we all harken back to the good ole' days of podcasting (waaaay back to 2005), when Podcast Expo was Podcast Expo, housed in homey little Ontario, California, before it merged with and got lost in the shuffle of the mega BlogWorld Expo. And all the podcasting geeks knew each other because no one else was podcasting.
Even though podcasting doesn't have a shiny new tool à la Foursquare to tempt the uninitiated into publishing a feed for the next few years, it's still a pretty cool way to build an intimate following through ongoing content. And I say "intimate" because there is something about podcasting that is far more relationship-building than, say, Facebook. You may amass Facebook Friends and Fans (oops, I mean Likers), but how often do you truly interact with them? One click, and they're off to play Farmville.
Recently, Edison research found that podcasting is still growing strong compared to its 2006 debut. But the audience and consumption methods have changed. A few tidbits from the study as reported by HubSpot:
- 45% of all Americans are aware of podcasting
- 23% of Americans listen to podcasts (an 11% increase from 2006)
- American video podcast viewing is up 20%
- 70 million Americans have listened to/viewed a podcast
Hubspot's analysis also points out: "Webster [presenting Edison's research] asserted that one of the main problems contributing to podcasting's lack of growth is that of convenience."
That is exactly the strength of podcasting. Hear me out.
Podcasting is different from newer social networking tools. Podcasting requires a commitment. Not just from the podcaster, but also from the listener. Sure, listeners can download a file or listen directly from their computers, and Webster did point out that many listeners never even transfer the podcast to a mobile device.
Regular podcast listeners must not only subscribe to a feed, but also download the file to an mp3 player and commit to listening to the entire episode in a linear format. No skimming, no scanning, no tl;dr (too long; didn't read). There is no shortcut for listening to a podcast.
You have to want it, not just "Like" it.
In this age of short attention span theater, how much value would a podcast listener bring to your organization? Someone who would be willing and eager to pay attention to your content for, say 30 minutes straight every week or month?
Listening to a podcast requires intent and attention.
Listeners must want to listen and commit to downloading and listening to a show for five, ten, 20 or 50 minutes. And while a listener could fast-forward through a boring part, early podcasters discovered one thing: they don't. They either love the content and host enough to download faithfully and listen to the entire episode, or they unsubscribe.
For that reason, podcast audiences are smaller than that of other social media tools with crazy low barriers to entry, such as Facebook, but podcast audiences tend to be more engaged. While Webster points out that 66% of podcast listeners do use Facebook and it's therefore a good idea to cross-promote on other social media sites, what I see in podcasting is an opportunity to build an audience far more engaged and loyal than they would ever be on Facebook or Twitter.
Let's face it. There is something wonderfully intimate about listening to a podcaster speak in his/her authentic voice for 10 or 30 minutes. It's more intimate than a blog post and far more intimiate than a Tweet; after listening to a podcast, many listeners say they feel like they know the host. Have you ever felt that from a Tweet?