The Podcasting Boom Explained in One Infographic
The impact of technology on how we consume information cannot be understated.
The most seismic shift has been to the media landscape as platforms like Facebook overtake traditional channels of news, distribution, and advertising. Not only does this put incumbent news conglomerates in an unenviable position, but it has also thrust tech companies into the reluctant role of the gatekeeper for society’s most important news and information.
While people may be divided on whether this is good or bad, there is another major change stemming from technology that is more clean cut in having a positive effect on consumers. The internet has allowed the news and content we consume to migrate away from centralized and capital-intensive sources (radio shows, cable TV), opening up many new and digestible formats of storytelling that were never before imaginable.
The barrier of entry for content has dropped towards zero, and it allows for many different “laboratories” to test new ideas, formats, and concepts until the winners are found.
New Formats to Experience
We are obviously advocates of the growing role of the visual medium for storytelling, which we aim to do mainly through infographics and data visualizations. While people have used visual storytelling since the cave drawing days, technology has really allowed this medium to hit a new stride as a way to break through the clutter. Further, science says that people crave visual content, and infographics provide a shareable, intuitive, distilled, and thought-provoking approach to sharing data.
Like infographics, the podcasting format – which is the subject of today’s post from Concordia University – has also recently began hitting a sweet spot for audiences around the world. This convenient audio format has been made possible through technology, and doesn’t rely on the same entrenched distribution channels as old school formats, such as radio.
As a result, podcasters can experiment more with the structures of their craft, while avoiding traditional forms of censorship. Today’s podcasts are breaking new ground daily with unique content that falls anywhere on the spectrum, from improvisational comedy to fact-dense educational features.
The Podcasting Boom
The podcast, a name originating from a portmanteau of “iPod” and “broadcast”, was first coined in 2004 by journalist Ben Hammersley of the BBC and The Guardian.
Despite being a feasible form of content even during the age of MP3 players and early broadband connections, the format has only really hit the mainstream in recent years. It’s hard to explain why, but most experts point to increased mobility, better production value, and a group of content creators that have recently managed to capture the imagination of the broader public.
Regardless, in recent years, the podcasting space has boomed to new levels of popularity. Today, the percentage of Americans that listen to podcasts is 24%, which is double what it was in 2013.
Further, the advertising market for podcasts is growing as well. In 2015, the ad market for podcasts was $69 million – but by 2017, the market was triple the size at an estimated $220 million. Podcasts allow advertisers to tap into very specific audience psychographics, and podcasts offer higher CPMs ($25-45) for successful publishers than traditional online content ($1-$20).
When and Where?
Aside from allowing new types of content to blossom outside of traditional distribution channels, podcasting has one other defining characteristic: mobility.
Just as streaming does for video, podcasts allow audio to be played in many situations where it was previously less feasible for a user to curate content. In fact, people listen to podcasts the most while driving (52%), traveling (46%), walking, running, or biking (40%), commuting on public transportation (37%), and while working out (32%).
This carves a pretty interesting niche that video and other content types can’t fill. And if podcasting content keeps getting better, people may even opt to listen in at other times outside of travel, building out the medium to even bigger heights.
The World’s Top 50 Influencers Across Social Media Platforms
Which influencers have the most total social media followers? We tally up follower counts across all major platforms, from Twitter to TikTok.
Visualizing the World’s Top 50 Influencers
In the modern digital world, social media reach is power.
The people with the most followers on Twitter, for example, have a massive platform to spread their messages, while those with large, engaged followings on Instagram are an advertiser’s dream sponsor partner.
Social media can also be an equalizer of power. It’s true that many celebrities boast large followings across platforms, but social media has also enabled previously unknown personalities to turn YouTube or TikTok fame into veritable star power and influence.
Who has the biggest reach across the entire social media universe? Instead of looking at who has the most followers on Instagram, Twitter, or other networks, we ranked the most-followed personalities across all major platforms combined.
Who Has the Most Overall Followers on Social Media?
We parsed through hundreds of the most-followed accounts on multiple platforms to narrow down the top influencers across social media as of April 2021.
Sources include trackers of the most followers on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Twitch, and TikTok, verified directly on site and with social media tracker Socialblade.
The results? A top 50 list of social media influencers consisting of athletes, musicians, politicians, and other personalities.
|Rank||Name||Category||Total Followers||Biggest Platform|
|#6||Dwayne Johnson||Film & TV||342M|
|#16||Ellen DeGeneres||Film & TV||254M|
|#20||Will Smith||Film & TV||217M|
|#26||Kevin Hart||Film & TV||191M|
|#31||Vin Diesel||Film & TV||176M|
|#39||Whindersson Nunes Batista||Other||144M|
|#41||Akshay Kumar||Film & TV||140M|
|#43||Felix "PewDiePie" Kjellberg||Gaming||139M||Youtube|
|#46||Deepika Padukone||Film & TV||137M|
|#48||Salman Khan||Film & TV||134M|
|#49||Priyanka Chopra||Film & TV||129M|
Unsurprisingly, celebrities reign supreme on social media. As of April 2021, soccer superstar Cristiano Ronaldo was the most-followed person on social media with almost 500 million total followers.
But there are other illuminating highlights, such as the global reach of music. With large and diverse fanbases, artists account for half of the top 50 largest social media followings.
Also notable is the power of Instagram, which was the biggest platform for 67% of the top 50 social media influencers. This includes hard-to-categorize celebrities like the Kardashians and Jenners, which turned reality TV and social media fame into business and media empires.
Download the Generational Power Report (.pdf)
The Most Followers on Twitter, TikTok, and YouTube
However, it’s not only celebrities that dominate social media.
Personalities that started on one social media platform and developed massive followings include TikTok’s most-followed star Charli D’Amelio and YouTubers Whindersson Nunes Batista, Germán Garmendia, and Felix “PewDiePie” Kjellberg.
Politicians were also prominent influencers. Former U.S. President Barack Obama has the most followers on Twitter, and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has more than 175 million followers across social media.
Former U.S. President Donald Trump would have also made the list with more than 140 million followers across social media before being banned from multiple platforms on January 8, 2021.
A Generational Look at Social Media Influence
While older generations have had to adapt to social media platforms, younger generations have grown up alongside them. As a measure of cultural importance, this gives Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z a rare leg-up on older generations.
Millennials, in particular, hold the lion’s share of spots in this top 50 list:
|Generation||# of Influencers in Generation||Top Influencer in Generation|
|Gen Z||4||Kylie Jenner|
|Gen X||10||Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson|
|Baby Boomer||3||Ellen DeGeneres|
The average age of the top 50 influencers was just over 37.
In our Generational Power Index (GPI), which measures the share of power generations hold in various categories, digital platforms were a key area where Millennials derived their power and influence. Overall, Baby Boomers—and to a lesser extent, Gen X—still run the show in most areas of society today.
Social Media Influence, Going Forward
As most fans and advertisers know, not all social media accounts and followings are homogenous.
Many influencers with relatively small followings have more consistent engagement, and are often able to demand high advertising fees as a result.
Conversely, most social media platforms are reckoning with a severe glut of fake accounts or bots that inflate follower counts, impacting everything from celebrities and politicians to personalities and businesses.
Regardless, social media has become a mainstay platform (or soapbox) for today’s cultural influencers. Billions of people turn to social media for news, engagement, recommendations, and entertainment, and new platforms are always on the rise.
Which U.S. Generation Wields the Most Cultural Power?
Visual Capitalist’s first-ever Generational Power Index looks at which U.S. generation holds the most cultural influence in American society.
Which U.S. Generation Wields the Most Cultural Power?
This year, our team put together Visual Capitalist’s inaugural Generational Power Index (GPI), which looks at power dynamics across generations in America.
We considered three categories in our quest to quantify power: economics, political, and cultural. And while it turns out Baby Boomers dominate when it comes to economics and political factors—cultural influence is a different story.
Here’s a look at which U.S. generation holds the most cultural power, and how this power dynamic is expected to shift in the coming years.
Generations and Power, Defined
Before we get started, it’s important to clarify which generations we’ve included in our research, along with their age and birth year ranges.
|Generation||Age range (years)||Birth year range|
|The Silent Generation||76 and over||1928-1945|
|Gen Alpha||8 and below||2013-present|
Using these age groups as a framework, we then calculated the Cultural Power category using these distinct equally-weighted variables:
With this methodology in mind, here’s how the Cultural Power category shakes out, using insights from the GPI.
Share of Cultural Power by Generation
Overall, we found that Gen X captures the largest share of cultural power, at 36%.
|Generation||Cultural Power Share|
|The Silent Generation||8.8%|
*Note: figures may not add up to 100% due to rounding.
Gen X is particularly dominant in the film and TV industry, along with news media. For instance, over half of America’s largest news corporations have a Gen Xer as their CEO, and roughly 50% of Oscar winners in 2020 were members of Gen X.
Baby Boomers come in second place, capturing a 25% share of cultural power. They show particular dominance in traditional entertainment like books and art. For example, 42% of the authors on the NYT’s best-selling books list were Baby Boomers.
However, these older generations fall short in one critical category—digital platforms.
The Dominance of Digital
Why is digital so important when it comes to cultural power? Because digital media becoming increasingly more popular than traditional media sources (e.g. TV, radio).
In 2020, Americans spent nearly 8 hours per day consuming digital media, nearly two hours more per day than they spent with traditional media.
This divide is expected to grow even further over the next few years. With younger generations dominating the digital space, Gen X may soon lose its place as the top dog of the culture category.
Celebrity 2.0: The Social Influencer
As audiences flock to online channels, advertisers have followed suit—and they’re willing to spend good money to gain access to their target demographics.
In fact, spend on influencer marketing has steadily increased in the last five years, and it’s expected to reach $13.8 billion by the end of 2021.
This shift to social media advertising is redefining the notion of celebrity, and who reaps the financial benefits of content creation. For instance, six-year-old Vlogger Like Nastya made an estimated $7.7 million per month from her YouTube channel in 2020. And keep in mind, this estimate is purely based on YouTube revenue—it doesn’t even include corporate partnerships and/or merchandise sales.
With all these shifts occurring, culture as we know it is at a crossroads. And as we continue to move towards a digital dominant society, those who hold power in traditional realms will either adapt or pass along the torch.
Download the Generational Power Report (.pdf)
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