Why popularity of podcasts is surging

Microphone

Podcasting services provide a convenient means of listening to information.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

What you need to know:

  • It’s a medium that has been gaining currency in institutions and individuals.
  • Podcasts are an easy way to absorb information while doing something else.

About 16 years ago, the Oxford English Dictionary added “podcast” to its lexicon. Since then, professionals and amateurs alike have gone to town with their podcasts, some attracting hordes of regular listeners.

It’s a medium that has been gaining currency in institutions and individuals. Advertisers and marketers have also found a promising place to reach potential customers. What’s fuelling the popularity of podcasts?

Podcasting services provide a convenient means of listening to information. People enjoy podcasts because it only requires a person to listen, making it easy to catch an episode while running, cooking, and cleaning, along with numerous other activities. As such, they offer an easy way to absorb information while doing something else.

Podcasts play just like a radio; the only difference is that one streams the broadcast from an app or the internet.

Podcasts are great tools for sharing stories of any nature, whether personal, humorous, about career or business. It’s also an essential medium for sharing knowledge on different subjects. Many pundits use podcasts to break down topics and shape the public discourse.

They also offer listeners access to a like-minded community. Hosts often engage with their listeners on social media, newsletters, and websites. So, they offer a way for people to meet others like them.

Internet access

South Africa, Nigeria, and Kenya lead the pack with the most podcasts in Africa. But the volume of podcasts in Africa is a sliver of the productions from Europe and the US. A vast population, however, remains unaware of podcasts.

Consumption of podcasts in Africa has been hampered by the high cost of the internet and lack of awareness. But, the cost of internet access is plummeting, more people have smartphones in their hands, and awareness is on the rise.

The Covid-19 pandemic was partly responsible for the heightened use of podcasts. As people spent more time at home, podcasters kept churning out information to assuage the desire for knowledge about the new disease and how to cope with it.

Increased use of podcasts also attracts advertisers who desire to place ads in places flocked by potential customers, generating income for the podcasters. 

To make quality podcasts, make sure you bring fresh content to the marketplace. Interview knowledgeable people, especially if they have good debating and storytelling skills. Use good quality recording equipment to create good-sounding podcasts. 

To create a buzz around your podcasts, use social media to spread the word. Using platforms such as YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook to share your podcast and engage with your audience will likely grow your listenership.

Whereas podcasts are mostly seeing traction among younger consumers, there is a need for more research to understand the listeners of podcasts, who they are, their gender, age group, profession, and interests. That information will empower podcasters and advertisers alike.

Mr Wambugu is an informatician. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @Samwambugu2

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