By: Lee Ann Jackson October 22, 2020

One day into the Podcast Movement Virtual Conference, the world’s largest community of podcasters, and it’s obvious – just as COVID has changed the world as we know it, the podcast industry has experienced its own changes.  Some of the changes are a result of the pandemic while some are a result of the platform’s exponential growth.

Here’s a quick look at four emerging podcast industry trends as shared by conference speakers:

1. Discoverability

Podcasting is bigger now than it’s ever been!  –Tom Webster, Senior Vice President of Edison Research and Podcast Movement Opening Keynote Speaker

Webster presented data from the newly released Share of Ear report reflecting that podcast listening, as a share of all the time we spend listening to audio, has tripled since 2014 -– increasing from 2% to 6%.  Besides the platform’s growth, though, it’s also important to note how listeners are discovering podcasts.  Webster shared that while monthly podcast consumers discover new spoken word audio by searching the internet, followed by recommendations, over half say they discover new podcasts via social media posts.

Application:  If social media hasn’t been a priority in your podcast strategy, it should be —  read below about micro content for one specific way to promote your podcast on social media.

2. Connection and Community

Six months into the quarantine has changed the podcast listener — we don’t want intimacy, we want connection.  — Webster

Most of the podcast topics listeners are consuming have remained constant pre and mid-pandemic, but the topics which have started to nudge up in the quarantine are comedy, self-help, gardening, spirituality, and religion.

According to the Edison Share of Media report, over 50% of podcast listeners say they listen to podcasts for reasons such as:

  • Makes you feel less lonely
  • Helps with life’s problems
  • Looking for more connection

The paradigm that we’ve had about podcasting is that it’s an intimate experience, but what the Share of Ear study shows is that while 42% of monthly podcast listeners listen exclusively alone, 58% of monthly podcast listeners spend time listening with others . . . in community.

Webster noted,

We need some kind of stress relief, we need an escape and not to feel self-isolated . . . that’s been key in listenership growth of spoken word audio and many of these habits made during the pandemic will stick.

Application:  Find ways to connect with your listeners – conduct surveys, interact with them on social media.  Strive to build that community they’re craving.

3. Micro Content:  What Is It and Why It’s Important

The impact of COVID has accelerated everything – people are comfortable with virtual events, Zoom gatherings and podcasting through Zoom.  If you’re recording audio only and not using Zoom, you’re missing opportunities to promote you podcast. Bernardo De La Vega, Founder of Fiesta App.

If you haven’t noticed, audiograms (images with audio) don’t do well to promote podcasts.  People just scroll through these posts on social platforms.  Instead, De La Vega encourages podcasters to use video micro content from their Zoom interviews to promote their podcast.

Creating short video clips, micro content, to post on social media is a great way to build and grow an audience.  In addition, uploading :30 micro content pieces to platforms like Instagram or TikTok not only promotes your podcast but equips your listening community with the means to share a dynamic post on their pages which has potential of organic growth. — De La Vega

Application Start video recording your podcast now – using the Zoom feature, an app, special software or even your phone.  Then, create micro content you can post on your socials (as noted above, according to the Edison Share of Ear study, social media is a growing avenue by which people are learning about new podcasts)!

4. Downloads vs. Listening Time

The real story behind the download metric is that while it’s important for ad sales, metrics are actually misleading. Sarah Breitenother, Vice President of Growth and General Manager, Stitcher Premium.

As Sarah shared, when the goal is engagement, downloads aren’t important because the truth is, only a small percentage of downloaders actually listen to what they download.

What does matter though is how long people listen.  And what is the current listen-to-download-ratio?  Forty percent of those who download will actually listen to the podcast.

Application: Yes, grow listeners but be intentional about your efforts to keep them listening.  Two easy ways to start doing that: get to know your listeners and what they like and the more you’ll be able to engage them and secondly, consider providing a sneak peek into next week’s episode in the week prior podcast!

The Podcast Movement Virtual Conference continues through next week – in our commitment to remain current on all things media, be watching our social media platforms and emails for more #PMVirtual take-aways!  (And feel free to reach out to me,, with any questions!)


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