Instagram launches its first branded podcast with Alex Cooper’s podcast network

Doja Cat and Ice Spice talk trends in first episode

Instagram has launched its first branded podcast, Close Friends Only, the social media platform announced, in partnership with Alex Cooper’s Unwell podcast network. 

The podcast, which launched on Thursday this week, is part of its Trend Talk series, which predicts key trends amongst younger audiences. Award-winning music artists Doja Cat and Ice Spice appeared as the first co-hosts of the series, discussing their opinions on what’s going viral online.

Future episodes are set to feature even more celebrity guest co-hosts talking about their latest takes on cultural moments “from memes and icks, to fashion and friendship”, according to the podcast’s description, although future release dates have yet to be announced. 

Close Friends Only is a multi-format podcast series with audio available to listen to across all major podcast platforms and video available to watch on Spotify. All other shows within the Unwell Podcast Network have both video and audio elements including Hot Mess with Alix Earle and Pretty Lonesome with Madeline Argy.

Cooper is well known for hosting Spotify-exclusive video podcast Call Her Daddy which was named the second most popular podcast on the platform globally, next to The Joe Rogan Experience which is also a Spotify exclusive.

In October, Cooper announced an ad sales partnership with Spotify which allows for the shows under the network to be hosted and distributed through Megaphone by Spotify and to be monetised through the company’s audio-first advertising marketplace Spotify Audience Network. 

The Unwell Podcast Network launched in August this year and is a subsidiary of Cooper’s other media venture Trending, which aims to create scripted and unscripted content targeted at Gen Z audiences. 

A number of other social media platforms besides Instagram have launched branded podcasts as promotional tools for their platforms, including LinkedIn. The business and employment social media platform runs its own podcast network which includes a number of award-winning career and business podcasts created by LinkedIn and its partners.

Twitter also announced that it was integrating podcasts on its platform in August last year through the Spaces Tab at the bottom of the home page, although users are not allowed to share, save, bookmark, and subscribe to podcasts or listen to the same episodes over again.