Plenty of ink has been spilled about the corrosive effects social media has had on culture and society. “People can’t talk to each other any more.” “Kids text each other instead of talking — even when they’re in the same room!” “Don’t even get me started on politics …”
But there are ways in which social media is a more positive force, helping people connect with one another across physical and virtual barriers.
Podcasting, which isn’t exactly “social media,” but is an inherently social medium, is an interesting place right now.
This came to mind as I read an article recently in Wired Magazine about podcasts and how they are modern-day salons that are “expanding social learning at an unprecedented scale.”
I could live without the hyperbole of “unprecedented” — though that could just be me reacting to a word that was beaten to death in the early days of the pandemic — but podcasting’s ability to to introduce us to new ideas, and to take deep dives into those ideas with real experts, makes podcasting a marketing medium worth paying attention to.
Yes, there is the same risk of polarization, echo chambers and dis- or misinformation that is all but unavoidable on popular social media platforms. But podcasting’s format makes possible the kind of synthesis of knowledge that feels very much like an antidote of sorts to AI.
What does that mean for marketing? Well, this is a good time to remind ourselves that technology isn’t inherently bad. It’s only bad once the marketers show up.
Jokes aside, there was a time when your inbox wasn’t a cesspool. And while there are plenty of sub-par podcasts out there, you get to choose to engage with or ignore them. And, as far as I know, there are no Nigerian princes in the podcasting game.
For marketers, podcasts also a great reminder that generating true human interaction and connection is what our business is all about. AI is already a helpful tool that promises to get even more useful as it matures, but it is regenerative, despite being referred to as generative AI. That is, its capabilities, as jaw-droppingly astounding as they are, are limited to combining existing information. I don’t think a claim can be made, at least not yet, that AI is capable of synthesizing something entirely new.
And synthesis is exactly what human conversation — the exchange of ideas and perspectives — is so good at. And offering the world something fresh and new is exactly what marketing needs to do in order to break through the clutter and noise.
I’m not suggesting that you jump right out and start a podcast today. But I am suggesting that we would all be wise to think of our marketing in terms of generating the kinds of conversations that the best podcasts create amongst hosts, guests, and audience.
Is your marketing engaging your target audience in a meaningful way? Is it interested in them and does it respond to their part of the conversation?
Does your marketing help you create the kinds of relationships that will endure not only long enough to move prospects to make a purchase, but also turn clients into champions and even, perhaps, friends.
We’re too quick to dismiss that idea of business friends as something only attainable in the smallest of Main Street businesses or the highest of high-touch professions. And certainly, friendship doesn’t scale. But genuine human caring does, and it’s something every marketer should strive for. Indeed, it may be the only effective remaining way to market.
So perhaps we should think about making 2024 a year of more conversation in our marketing, and less about the content we can create with AI’s help.
I’d love to hear your take on this and, particularly any podcasts that excite you about a brand or even an idea, and any that are making genuine connections with their audience.
Occasional large-scale changes can re-invigorate a marketing plan that’s beginning to falter and can provide a blast of inspiration that ripples out through the rest of your marketing.
By the way, if you’re interested in hearing some of my podcast and radio appearances, you’ll find a few of them listed on the Andigo website.