One social scientist said that Millenials are now experiencing what happens when life is too representative – that it becomes pictures of pictures, rather than experiences worth photographing. By focusing on research and on exploring the research Millenials can now personalize their experience
For nearly a decade, Millenials had a love affair with algorithms. I mean, literally, they found their loves through dating sites that used algorithms to find their perfect someone. They extended that success to the fields of politics and investing. Ask a politico if the Democratic strategy for 2016 was based on past knowledge or algorithms, and they’ll roll their eyes at you and bemoan “Brooklyn and their computers!” And you don’t have to look too far to find the road to Wall Street littered with the shells of robo-investing platforms that just couldn’t make it. So if the algorithm has a case of the blues, what takes it place?
Podcasts have taken on a life of their own, and not just because more celebrities have found the platform fun or a great source of creative outlet. Instead, the Pod world is now full of edu-tainment programs – those programs that both educate and entertain, like podcasts about paleontology that also discuss King Kong movies like the Podcast called The Common Descent. The reliance on algorithms, say some social psychologists, may be related to the “tyranny of freedom.” That is, the feeling of being so overwhelmed by all of the choices available, that people become paralyzed and feel uncertain and anxious. Reliance on an objective measure, like a mathematical calculation, may help ease that anxiety. So why would Millenials leave math? The new rise in podcasts may show a different approach to that tyranny of freedom. Instead of the world being large and scary because of the unknowns, the unknowns become interesting and worth researching. In other words, the rise in edu-tainment podcasts may show a new way of approaching uncertainty: through research.
One social scientist said that Millenials are now experiencing what happens when life is too representative – that it becomes pictures of pictures, rather than experiences. By focusing on research and on exploring the research Millenials can now personalize their experience. They also may be finding that by following algorithms they are being trapped in a loop of seeing what they’ve already seen. By following news sites that provide the reader with articles based on other articles they’ve read, the reader risks the potential for confirmation bias – or overvaluing information based on previous information you’ve already seen. That’s where the podcast habit of valuing research or brand new information can be an approach Millenials and others might find valuable.
While not all podcasts fall into the edu-tainment category, the rise in podcast listenership shows that Millenials are seeking new information. That search points to a potential shift from thinking they can handle their own investments via algorithms and robo-investing to being open to research and suggestions. How big is the podcast listenership? 42% of those between the ages of 18-34 listen to podcasts at least once a week. Recent mergers and acquisitions show how much podcasting is becoming big business. Spotify, known for its music playlists (and possibly the death of iTunes), recently paid $200m for Gimlet, an app that helps people create podcasts.
If you take the news of the growth in podcasts solely as one based on advertising – as in a change in marketing platforms – you miss the bigger revolution. If, I’ve said before, good marketing marries message to method, it isn’t just that your ads or marketing efforts should change to fit podcasting platforms. Instead, the bigger revolution is in the value of research and stories. As one commentator said, Millenials seek out podcasts on reality and non-fiction. They love news and fully fleshed out stories that are serialized. This means greater attention to detail. It may also indicate an increase in the value held by those listeners to research. For financial advisors, this means a greater interest in what you do as an individual and a potentially greater capacity for potential clients to be interested in their own story, fully fleshed out, and ready to be seen over a series of events.
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