Don’t Pooh-Pooh Podcasts Just Yet

Podcasting has been around for more than a decade, but it just hasn’t caught the same explosive fire as Facebook or Twitter. However, the podcast’s time may have finally come.

Research shows approximately 46 million Americans listen to podcasts each month, and this number has been growing almost every year since 2008. With all the competition for our digital time these days, it’s hard to ignore these numbers. More importantly, the podcasting audience is engaged. Other surveys also indicate that the average podcast listener consumes at least six podcasts per week.

The podcast, a short-form digital audio file made available on the Internet for download, is definitely having a resurgence. Despite some early excitement, podcasts faded in popularity in the early 2000s, due in large part to the many steps required to download and play them. Gone is the old-school method of downloading podcasts from iTunes onto a computer and then syncing with an iPod. The introduction of the iPhone in 2007 changed that, making podcasts more convenient to access. It’s now easier to play them in cars, too, as automakers have built wireless media features into more models. Not to mention, faster Wi-Fi and mobile data speeds have made podcasts a cinch to stream.

Podcasts, with their mostly male audience, offer our always-on, multi-tasking society a way to more “productively” spend the three-plus hours a day we lose commuting, working out and doing household chores. If your B2B brand has been ignoring the podcast as a viable content marketing tool, it might be time to reconsider. You might not end up sponsoring your own full-blown program series, but finding a good fit with the right podcast could be just what your company needs to capture the ear of your target audiences.

Podcasts Are Socially Acceptable

Thanks to the popularity of streaming audio services such as Pandora and Spotify, more polished podcast programs and structured series are building healthy social followings. A podcast represents the best of two worlds for marketers. It provides a means to create and distribute interesting and useful content that can be tailored to specific audiences. It’s also a social tool that creates that all-important one-on-one interaction with your brand.

Listeners can interact with podcasts by calling into live shows or sending questions and comments to podcasters (i.e. your company executives or subject matter experts) through email or social media. By creating a special podcast landing page on your website enabled with social buttons, you can also encourage more engagement through easier sharing, liking and commenting. Individual podcasters can also leverage their individual social networks to encourage audiences to follow, like and engage with them on an even more personal level.

Podcasting is an excellent way to repurpose useful information or deliver original content in a form that’s tailor-made for today’s social networks―just so long as it’s consistent and compelling enough for listeners to tune in on a regular basis.

Five Tips for Creating an Engaging Podcast

Podcasts are fairly inexpensive to create, especially when compared to the costs associated with video. Whether you commit to creating and releasing audio content on a weekly, monthly or quarterly schedule, you can eventually build and nurture a community of listeners who want to hear what you have to say.

Here are five quick tips for creating an engaging podcast:

  1. Recognize attention spans. People have a limited amount of time to consume podcast content. The shorter your podcast, the more likely people will listen. Some of the most popular podcasts range from 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. Focus on a niche. Don’t try to “boil the audio ocean” by discussing general or mainstream topics. Develop and cultivate a niche that will resonant with your target audience and one where your expertise will show through.
  3. Develop a content plan. A podcast is another mechanism to deliver content so use the same editorial planning process as you would for blog posts, for example. Examine the content you have along with the information your audience still needs to create a topical calendar that reinforces your company’s key messages.
  4. Incorporate good audio tools. A podcaster doesn’t need to have an ESPN-like commentator voice; it just needs to be pleasant. However, bad audio production can quickly doom any podcast. A number of good quality audio podcasting tools exist that won’t break your budget.
  5. Ensure listeners can find content. Search engines don’t listen to audio so ensure your podcasts are optimized for search with proper tagging, descriptions and code for RSS feeds. Well-written descriptions will interest potential listeners and encourage them to download or listen to your podcasts.

Careful planning, relevant content, polished recordings and targeted promotion can make podcasting a viable tool in your B2B marketing tool kit.

Has your company produced a podcast in the last year?

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