Voice activated: How audio thought leadership is only as good as the story and the telling

Sean Kearns

There are many ways for a brand to find its voice. But too few brands make full use of their vocal range. Are they missing out on the power of audio thought leadership?

Our auditory experience of brands is often dampened. When we watch a branded video or listen to a sponsored podcast, we rarely get a full sense of tone or emotion.

This means we end up being passive rather than active listeners. Audio thought leadership becomes another way to consume digital content, rather than a way for companies to speak directly to us with power and persuasion. In a recent article, head of audio Meg Wright explains four ways audio content can better speak directly to audiences in thought leadership.

Using the spoken word in the right way and at the right time is not just respectful to your audience’s ears – it will also determine whether there is any audience in the first place.

Which brands are using audio in current thought leadership campaigns? And how is it used to best effect?

Experience best-in-class audio in our upcoming webinar, where FT Longitude’s head of audio Meg Wright, and our co-founder James Watson take us through recent examples of creative and innovative audio in B2B.

Register here | October 20, 3pm BST / 10am EST

Make your audio thought leadership matter

We all know that there is too much inconsequential content. And audio thought leadership is no different.

“In the last few years there has been an explosion in the supply of podcasts with two million different shows now available in the Apple index,” says the latest Reuters Digital News Report. “Demand for podcasts is not growing at the same rate, so discovery and awareness remain the biggest problems.”

Without huge budgets for promotion, or the luxury of building up an audience base over time, it is hard to attract listeners. That’s why many brands fixate on distribution and promotion.

But an audio strategy should not start with discussions over Acast or Apple – it needs to go back to the very beginning. You need to find your voice and then promote it:

  • Which voices do our audiences want to hear from?
  • What have they got to say?
  • How are they going to say it?

As you answer these questions, don’t always default to seniority. Instead, search for talents and perspectives at all levels of the organisation. These individuals will also have their own personal and professional networks, which you can tap into.

Be honest about who you are

Audio thought leadership is a great way for potential customers to experience your personality – not just hear about your products. But that only works if you what you say is an honest reflection of who you are.

In Edelman and LinkedIn’s latest research, the vast majority of executives (87%) said that thought leadership can be both rigorous and fun at the same time – and that they would like to hear a more human, less formal voice.

Mike Reed, founder of Reed Words, wrote recently about tone of voice and why “branding only works from the inside out”. “That’s where any voice should start,” he said. “Not with ‘let’s be distinctive’ but with the truth of the brand. The voice’s job is to express that truth in a compelling way – not just turn cartwheels and handstands in an attempt to get noticed.”

If brands want to increase trust among audiences, they must be careful with the content choices they make. The real power of audio thought leadership is to connect intimately and tap into the emotions of both listener and speaker. If brands want to find their true voices, they need to be passionate and honest in what they say and authentic in how they say it.

Audio content is not an add-on to your brand campaign; it is an invitation for company. Whether anyone joins or not depends on whether you really speak to them.

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What could your audio content sound like?

At Longitude, we work with many of the biggest brands in B2B and interview some of the most influential people in their respective fields. Push play to hear what our client’s audio insights sound like as part of their content campaigns.

About the author: Sean Kearns

As FT Longitude’s editor-in-chief, Sean helps ensure that we create thought leadership campaigns with influence and impact. As well as delivering high-profile programmes for our clients, he advises on thought leadership strategy, helping brands reach the audiences who matter.

Sean has 20 years’ experience of creating strategic content across a range of sectors and senior editorial roles.. Before joining FT Longitude, Sean was Editorial Director of communications agency Bladonmore.

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