2 years ago, a huge portion of the emails I received from my audience looked something like this:
“Marcus, just found you recently and have been reading all your stuff…”
Today, these very same types of emails tend to look like this:
“Marcus, just found you recently and have been listening to all of your stuff…”
It’s the same email with one monumental difference.
The Power of Listening over Reading
The shift above didn’t hit me until recently but as I’ve contemplated this movement and the way people are engaging with content it all makes very obvious sense:
Podcast listeners become way more loyal, engaged, and connected than blog readers.
Now don’t get me wrong folks, as I’m clearly aware using text (blogging, ebooks, etc.) is still definitively farther reaching than podcasting because of the fact that so many people still don’t consume their daily content through listening.
Nor does Google appreciate audio for search engine purposes.
But I think if we’re all being realistic about where we’re headed, the “future” of the way we consume information will be through audio and visual much more than it will be through text.
Furthermore, let’s take a deeper look at the benefits of podcasting and why it fits today’s digital consumer so very well:
1. Nobody reads blogs or watches TV when driving to work:
Anyone that has ever had a podcast will tell you the #1 comment they get from listeners is, “Thank you for making my drive to work this week so much quicker.”
The same cannot be said for blog articles, TV shows, etc. Distracted driving rules aren’t going away, which means listening will always (until cars drive themselves) trump text and video. Once all vehicles are “podcast friendly” and linked to iTunes, Stitcher, etc.— Podcast listenership is going to blow through the roof.
2. Headphones go with you anywhere and everywhere:
Over the last 18 months since I started my podcast, I’ve gotten messages like this:
“I love working out to Mad Marketing Marcus, thank you!”
“You were with me on a hike up the mountain the other day Marcus.”
“My kids were laughing at your jokes recently Marcus as I was playing you in the background while making dinner.”
I could go on and on with examples, but you get my point. Podcasting is the most “mobile” of all major content marketing mediums, which means the ability for someone to consume on “their” time and in “their” preferred way is profound. Never did I receive so many personal emails until podcasting became a part of my business.
3. Podcasting isn’t about playing the social media game:
I’m going to have a hard time articulating my thoughts on this one (which means people will take me the wrong way), but stay with me for a second:
When it comes to blogging and other forms of written content, it’s easy to manipulate things like titles, quotes, etc. so that it “goes big” on a social level. (i.e. It gets shared a lot, whether people read it or not)
The same is true for video.
But when it comes to a podcast, it’s not about social (for the most part). In other words, it’s a more “real” and “sincere” form of communication.
I’m not saying here that blogging/written content can’t be real and sincere, but the fact is any serious blogger will tell you there have been times when they’ve been influenced by social media to change their content in some way, shape, or form.
This reality is good and bad for podcasting. The bad comes from the fact that most people don’t socially share a podcast unless they actually listen to it.
The good is that most people don’t share a podcast unless they actually listen to it.
Get my point?
4. Podcasting allows for an entire group of “non-writers” to share their thoughts with the world:
Truth be told, more people in this world *don’t* like to write than *do* like to write. If this was not the case, content marketers and CMOs wouldn’t be crying the blues that no one in the company wants to give them content (which is a big, big problem across the board).
This dislike for writing has always stunted some incredibly thoughtful people from sharing with the world what’s in their head, but with podcasting, the only thing someone needs is the willingness to talk and speak up—something that a much higher percentage of people are inclined to do.
Text Still Rules Most Organizations…For Now
As mentioned earlier, because way fewer people listen to podcasts than read content, the written word is still more powerful for most organizations in 2014 as a business driver. That being said, I have a few closing thoughts:
1. Podcasting isn’t going anywhere but up.
2. If all businesses and brands started seeing themselves as “problem solvers,” most would then also see how a podcast could benefit their customer base.
3. Google and the rest of the search engines will eventually love audio just as much as they loves text.
4. Those businesses that start a podcast today will dominate that segment of their niche in 5 years once everyone else decides to jump in the game.
I’ve said my thoughts, now I’d be curious to hear yours.
What do you seeing as the future of “listening” versus “reading?” How have both impacted your business and what are your plans (for podcasting and textual content) as you look ahead?