A podcast is a digital medium that consists of an episodic series of audio or digital radio, subscribed to and downloaded through web syndication or streamed online to a computer or mobile device. The word comes from ‘broadcast’ and ‘pod’ – from the success of the iPod – as audio broadcasts are often listened to on portable media players.
As always, I’m indebted to Wiki for the technical explanation. Put more simply – and more significantly – the podcast is going to be an increasingly important tool for SMEs.
Traditionally, business has been about B2B or B2C: but technology and social media are changing that. Business is increasingly P2P. We all know the old adage about ‘people buy from people.’ For the vast majority of us, that continues to be true. What’s changing is the nature of the person to person approach. When you read this blog I hope you can ‘hear’ me speaking. How much would the experience be magnified by a podcast?
What does a regular blog do? It helps the writer build a community; it builds authority – and it should engage, inform and entertain the readers. A podcast can do all that and more: so it’s little wonder that they’re rapidly gaining in popularity. After all:
Podcasts are flexible: you don’t need to be watching the TV or staring at your laptop. You can listen to a podcast anywhere – and irrespective of what you’re doing.
They’re on demand: every bit as importantly, you can listen to a podcast whenever you want to.
They’re mobile: once you’ve downloaded a podcast you can listen to it anywhere – on the beach, at the gym or on what used to be that long, boring commute to work. And in 2015, podcasts are poised to conquer the ‘final frontier’ of the car dashboard, with Apple and Google busy signing deals to get their systems – Apple CarPlay and Android Auto – onto the dashboards of new cars.
The number of people listening to podcasts is increasing all the time. According to Edison Research, about 39m Americans, or 15% of the over-12 population, listened to a podcast in the last month. That’s up from 12% in 2013 and 9% in 2008.
Before you sniff and say, ‘15% isn’t much,’ those figures mask the fact that the people listening to podcasts are young, well-educated and earning well above the average wage. In short, they’re the demographic businesses are desperate to engage.
Right now there are around 250,000 podcasts available to download: that’s compared to half-a-billion English language blogs and four million hours of video uploaded to YouTube every month.
At this point you’re probably expecting a quick checklist: 5 Steps to Producing the Perfect Podcast or something similar. That’s probably outside the scope of my expertise at the moment, but I do know that podcasts are not hard to produce. All you need is a microphone, a computer and – above all – some interesting topics.
Want to have a practice and see how you sound? I used Voice Record Pro on the iPhone – it’s free if you don’t mind the ad at the bottom of the screen.
But if this isn’t a ‘how-to’ post, it most certainly is a ‘be-aware’ post. I’m absolutely convinced that podcasts will become an effective – and cost-effective – marketing tool.
I’m not talking about the US gurus who send out a slick 20 to 30 minute podcast to hundreds of thousands of subscribers every week. I am talking about the possibility of a monthly podcast that helps to build your business and informs, engages, entertains and updates your clients and customers.