Listen Up! Adding Podcasts to Twitter Sounds Cool, but That's About It

The new addition could harm discoverability, experts say

  • Twitter is adding podcasts to its mobile apps.
  • Some people could discover podcasts for the first time.
  • Experts don’t expect Twitter to help existing listeners looking for something new.
"PODCAST" Sign In Neon Lights

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Twitter is adding podcasts to its app, but those hoping to find fun new things to listen to could wind up being disappointed, experts say.

Twitter recently announced plans to add podcasts to a redesigned Spaces tab on mobile, promising to make it easier for people to "simply hit play and go." In a blog post, the platform stated it will "automatically suggest compelling podcasts to help people easily find and listen to the topics they want to hear more about," but experts worry this new way won't help people discover fresh content but rather feed them what they already consume.

"If they're basing the recommendations on who you're following and their algorithm, then people will just see what they're already following," Eric Silver, head of creative at podcast firm Multitude Productions, told Lifewire via email.

The Discoverability Problem

A 2022 Edison Research study shows that 177 million people across the United States have listened to at least one podcast, equating to 62% of the population aged 12+. That number represents an increase over the 57% figure from 2021, and of the 1,502 respondents, 38% listened to a podcast within the last month. By adding podcasts to the Spaces tab, Twitter could make it easier for those people to find new voices to listen to while simultaneously introducing the world of podcasts to a whole new audience.

That's something experts hope for anyway, but they aren't convinced. Podcast discoverability is something podcast creators and media companies continue to wrestle with. Twitter's move into podcasts is seen as one with potential, but only if its recommendations are varied enough to introduce people to new shows.

"I feel like this will be just another way for already popular shows to get in front of eyeballs, rather than a solution to the podcast discovery problem," Silver added. "If it works in a way that is unexpected, great!"

smartphone. headphones, microphone. podcast concept

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Podcaster Melanie Benson is more hopeful, but not about the feature as it's been announced. She's already looking beyond the Spaces tab and wonders if podcasts could become a key part of a Twitter user's profile.

"Even better would be Twitter allowing you to integrate your [podcast's] RSS Feed into your Twitter profile so that when an episode goes live, it automatically publishes to your feed," suggested Benson. 

Such a move would reduce the friction between seeing a podcast and actually listening to it, says Silver, suggesting that shortening that process could benefit podcasters and listeners alike. 

"The social media platform that most podcast listeners use is Twitter, and it takes five clicks of a mouse to get from seeing a tweet about a fun podcast to actually getting someone to subscribe," he said.

Podcasts and Spaces, a Perfect Match

The pairing of podcasts and Spaces is one that could add value for listeners, too. Spaces already give Twitter users a way to discuss almost any topic using real-time voice chats, and the juxtaposition of that feature with the recorded, edited conversations of podcasts is notable.

Benson believes Twitter could choose to allow people to convert a Space into a podcast, effectively turning the app into a podcast recording solution of sorts. Podcaster and Twitter creator Kelly Ann Collins agrees, adding that "Spaces is a great tool for communicating with your community live on Twitter—but not every person can join live. A Spaces archive and podcast feature is just what Twitter needs to reach more users, and to create more conversation on the platform."

I feel like this will be just another way for already popular shows to get in front of eyeballs...

Unfortunately, that's all pie-in-the-sky stuff, and what Twitter has announced isn't getting too many experts excited that it will surface new shows and creators to expectant listeners.

"If Twitter is trying to attract people who have never heard a podcast before and will theoretically listen exclusively in Twitter Spaces, their first podcast is going to be who they have a relationship with, the old guard in the space (like NPR), or the podcast of an influencer who is already dominating their algorithm," Sliver warns.

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