Podcasters are More Influential than Social Media Influencers, Study Finds

Written By

Liz Iversen

Published On

Monday, Jun 05
Two men sitting infront of podcasting microphones laughing.

A new study by Magna’s Media Trials and Vox Media shows that podcasters are one of today’s most influential figures in media. Seventy-five percent of respondents said they value podcasters’ influence more than they value that of social media influencers (15%) and TV/movie celebrities (10%). As Inside Radio put it, “podcasters have effectively dethroned social influencers.

The study found that podcasts fill a void that shorter-form content cannot. “While short form content satisfies dwindling attention spans, podcasts deliver on the high-quality, in-depth information consumers crave,” the report said. Listeners said podcasts offer more in-depth information and exposure to current topics than other media, including social media and video apps like TikTok. Seventy-nine percent said they see podcasts as being superior to social media content, and 80% said they feel like they are friends with fellow listeners as they listen to a podcast.


My big takeaway from this is how connected listeners are with podcasts,” Lee Syatt, Podcast Operations at SMI, said of the study. “No one feels like they are friends with their favorite actor.” Syatt believes the frequency of podcasts helps evoke a sense of connection. “Podcasts allow listeners into the daily lives and homes of their favorite hosts. Most television shows do 20 episodes a year if they are lucky,” he said. “There are big breaks between seasons, sometimes lasting more than a year. A popular podcast can release at least 50 episodes a year, and many release episodes multiple times a week which can bring their total to well over 100 episodes a year. Podcasts to me, at their best, are a long voicemail from the funniest, most interesting, and entertaining people in the world, delivered for free.” 


According to the report, “Intimacy becomes influence.” Syatt agrees that the connection listeners feel with podcast hosts helps with advertising. “Listeners feel like they are helping out a friend when they support a show’s sponsor,” said Syatt. The study found that 88% of respondents engage in activities to support their favorite podcasters outside of the podcast. Those activities could include purchasing a product advertised on the show. 


Fifty-one percent of respondents reported being persuaded by a podcast ad to buy or try a product. For Millennials, that number rose to 70%. 

I think one reason for the higher value that people are putting onto podcast host recommendations has to do with the way the medium it consumed,” said Lisa Risk, SMI’s Podcast Strategist. “Podcast listeners actively seek out their favorite show or host in order to listen to the show, usually by subscribing to a show and having it auto-download or by searching for the show each time they listen. In contrast, many social media and TV ads are consumed while scrolling through social media or flipping through the TV channels.”


Podcast listeners actively seek out podcast content, are highly engaged while listening to it, and actively engage in supporting their favorite podcasters. And podcast audiences are exploding. According to the report, monthly podcast listenership is expected to grow by double digits in the next five years, with an estimated 60% of Americans listening to podcasts at least once a month.

Want to hear your brand on the most influential medium? Contact SMI today to find out how you can advertise on podcasts.

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