Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

The power of voice should not be underestimated in a world where there is an ever-increasing emphasis on visual platforms. Audio remains particularly important on the African continent, where our history is an oral one and many people learn through storytelling. Podcasting, one step, is fast gaining traction to connect and engage with niche audiences who are smart, affluent and make the decisions.

This is the view of CliffCentral’s Gareth Cliff, speaking at a creative exchange hosted by the Mobile Marketing Association last week. Social media is a visual platform, says Cliff, offering consumers a plethora of things to see. But the visual response required by social media doesn’t lend itself to multitasking, something that has become essential in today’s environment, which is driven by time efficiency.

“You can’t check Instagram while driving your car or cooking dinner, but you can listen while you do pretty much anything else,” says Cliff, adding that in a time-pressured world audio has a big role to play. Moreover, he believes the power of voice can cut through the clutter and competitiveness of visual media.

Looking back on the history of podcasting, Cliff recalls how in the past, a small minority of people were interested in podcasts – a “dirty secret” that one wouldn’t necessarily want anyone else to know about. Today, podcasting is the fastest-growing medium in the US, with 70% year-on-year growth over the past three years.

The big take out

Podcasting is a powerful way for marketers to reach niche audiences with content that is relevant to their lives.

What is the reason for this big growth? Cliff believes it’s that people are becoming more discerning about what they choose to listen to. “They no longer want to suffer though bad music or half an hour of sports results they care nothing about – they want to choose their own content and when and where they want to listen,” he says.

Moreover, when listeners have chosen a particular podcast it’s clear they actively want to be there – there’s nothing passive or captive about their listening. The quality of interaction and the information and insights derived from podcasts are far more useful than those radio broadcasts provide, and there is no wastage, Cliff says.

While podcasting does not cater for everybody, those who are listening to a podcast have chosen to do so. “Niched audiences have money, they’re smart and, ultimately, they are the people who change the world. A podcast is uncensored and unregulated – all listeners are treated like adults. As a podcaster, you get to serve the audience content they care about,” he says.

“Podcasts provide specialist, relevant information to audiences that fits into their lives and that they can pause and rewind or share with friends. A great podcast will connect listeners and turn them into a community,” Cliff says.

His advice to brands entering the space is to be authentic and tell the brand’s story in a way that has meaning and substance. “The secret of a successful podcast is consistency – you have to keep delivering quality content to your listeners. Good storytelling, compelling presentation and good audio quality matter.”