In 2019, Blue Wire‘s network of podcasts received a total of five million downloads. In 2020, that number rose to 16 million. Then, in 2021, it shot up to 60 million.
The company’s secret is simple: Social media. By tapping creators as the hosts of its podcasts and acquiring creator-led shows, Blue Wire has landed on an influencer marketing goldmine. Its 2021 sales are expected to bring in about $10 million in ad revenue, according to Marketing Brew.
Influencer marketing is nothing new. Blue Wire puts its spin on that industry by selling cross-platform packages to its advertising partners. In addition to sponsoring podcasts, brands can get their money’s worth by receiving shout-outs across the social web. A good example of this approach can be seen on the Blue Wire podcast The Dew Zone, which is hosted by Druski. Between his four million Instagram followers, his 3.2 million TikTok followers, and his smaller followings on Twitter, YouTube, and Twitch, Druski has the ability to plug a brand on multiple channels.
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The people who enable this strategy are the ones Blue Wire head of content Scott Reinen calls “ride-or-dies.” Those are the passionate fans who will follow creators to new ventures — such as a podcast. When he searches for future Blue Wire partners on platforms like Twitter and TikTok, Reinen told Marketing Brew he looks for “that really deep entrenchment of an audience base” that will “go across to YouTube, will go into audio, will buy their merch, will go to events.”
The creators so far who have matched that description fall into a few different categories. There are the ones who Blue Wire shapes into podcast hosts, such as TikTok personality Matthew Sponhour. Reinen noticed the engagement Sponhour got on his videos and tapped him to host the sports podcast Stay Hot. Other Blue Wire partners already had their own audio shows before they joined the network. Justice Summerset and David Egbo, the hosts of the culture podcast Don’t Trip, caught Blue Wire’s eye thanks to their TikTok videos. Now they produce their podcast under the Blue Wire umbrella.
Bottom line: Influencer marketing still sells, if you know how to approach it. Blue Wire’s slate of original podcasting content includes about 30 owned-and-operated shows. Stay Hot, which is among the company’s more popular products, draws 140,000 downloads per month.