The growing popularity of podcasts and social audio platforms such as Clubhouse is providing established influencers additional channels for reaching followers. In some cases, it’s producing a new wave of influencers and influencer marketing. While the most popular creators on image- and video-based platforms such as Instagram and TikTok tend to be younger, not all of today’s audio influencers fit that mold.
On Clubhouse, creators with the largest followings include platform founders Rohan Seth and Paul Davison, Felicia Horowitz (philanthropists and wife of venture capitalist Ben Horowitz), and Marc Andreessen (another prominent tech investor). The platform aims to support influencers with features like tickets, tipping, and subscriptions—as well as through its Clubhouse Creator First acceleration program.
Social audio is still relatively young, but the number of audio creators is growing quickly. As the evolution of audio continues to unfold, brands can capitalize on marketing opportunities through partnerships with today’s most influential voices.
The Sound of Authenticity
Just 20 years ago, the idea that ordinary people could easily and regularly engage with their favorite celebrities was unheard of. But audio platforms are making it possible, allowing members of the general public to engage with musicians, comedians, and businesspeople.
This phenomenon isn’t unfolding by accident, though. Platforms such as Clubhouse understand that people want to interact with iconic figures, and they’re persuading these influencers to join by offering special access to exclusive tools and features for connecting with audiences.
Moreover, Clubhouse, Twitter Spaces, and other social audio channels give influencers a forum to express their thoughts and opinions freely and spontaneously. This adds a layer of authenticity that other channels lack. As a result, listeners tend to trust audio influencers more (as revealed in iHeartMedia’s trusted medium survey). And because listeners are a captive audience, brands have unprecedented opportunities to align themselves with audio influencers to share their messages with potential customers.
Someone Is Always Listening
One of the primary benefits of audio content is its portability. Consumers can be active listeners while traveling, hitting the gym, cooking dinner, shopping, or even working. That unique attribute is what drives its popularity among busy audiences who are juggling careers, kids, and other demands in an increasingly fast-paced world. This lets brands and audio influencers connect with listeners at virtually any time.
Currently, podcasts and social audio platforms are most popular among Millennial professionals between the ages of 34 and 45. Often, the age demographic varies depending on the topics being covered. Working professionals tend to gravitate toward business, culture, and news, whereas entertainment topics appeal to all ages.
Obviously, brands’ success in audio spaces will depend on their ability to identify and partner with influencers who cover topics or host celebrities that appeal to their target audiences. By finding influencers who can convey their marketing messages with authority, passion, and authenticity, brands can significantly influence the perceptions and feelings of consumers.
How Audio Is Reshaping Influencer Marketing
What can brands expect as audio spaces continue to evolve, particularly within influencer marketing? Here are a few predictions:
A Level Playing Field
The influencers that currently leverage videos or images to market themselves or brand partners rely heavily on their appearance to capture audience attention. In these spaces, physical beauty trends drive individuals’ influence. On audio platforms, influencers can bring new perspectives and thought leadership to various topics affecting the world today regardless of how they look.
In an audio-only space, influencers must rely on what they know. Platforms like Clubhouse and Twitter Spaces give brands the opportunity to partner with influencers who have real authority and credibility, leveling the social media playing field. This can result in new ideas, perspectives, and opportunities.
Better Audience Segmentation
Today, podcasts are covering virtually every subject imaginable. At the end of 2020, Spotify—one of the audio space’s most dominant players—hosted about 2.2 million podcasts. Podcast hosts tend to be very knowledgeable about niche topics, attracting audiences that are equally interested in their subject matter. Brands can form meaningful connections with those listeners by showing support for hosts via sponsorships, allowing them to become integral parts of the communities.
Greater Accessibility for Younger Influencers
Generation Z has already shown a willingness and eagerness to share stories and perspectives via the social channels the young audience has grown up using. This proclivity will extend to audio, which many younger Americans view as a more personal, emotional, and even therapeutic means of connecting with others. In the coming years, new editing and distribution tools will make it easier for Gen Z to enter the audio space.
While podcasts, Clubhouse, and Twitter Spaces are today’s prevailing audio spaces, the growth of sound as a social medium is piquing the interest of platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn. As these giants explore new ways to monetize creator content, more social audio platforms will likely launch to capitalize on innovative business models.
Brands that collaborate with audio influencers will be able to develop far-reaching, effective marketing strategies. Success won’t happen overnight, but given the growing consumer appetite for audio content and the increasing popularity of audio-sharing platforms, audio marketing will soon play a major role in all brands’ futures.