Podcasts have become a much talked about medium of late. And for good reason. Each year more and more people are opting to listen to podcasts. According to a recent Reuters Digital Report, 38% of Irish people regularly listen to podcasts, just over double the listenership of the UK per capita and well up in there in global consumption rates.
From the listeners’ perspective, there is a wealth of choice available to download or to stream. The convenience of accessing them from your smartphone means you can listen to them literally anywhere, at any time.
From the producer’s point of view, there are almost no barriers to entry. If you have some recording equipment, a quiet room and a decent Wi-Fi connection, you can broadcast your podcast to the world.
Increasingly, business-people have become attracted to the idea of podcasting for two reasons:
- Firstly, anything that attracts peoples’ attention for a sustained period will capture the imagination of advertisers and sales people. They have already started to wonder how they can move product via the earbud.
- But secondly, podcasts are about information as much as entertainment.
If we look at the most popular podcast genres in the iTunes chart in 2017, Comedy was the number one with 44% of all downloads while Education and News were 2nd and 3rd with 40% and 38% respectively.
If you have a business and would like to consider using a podcast to help connect you with potential customers, here are five key points to consider.
1 – Don’t just ‘dial it in’
According to Apple they have almost 600,000 podcasts available in their app with over 18 million episodes to choose from.
Competition in the podcast space is immense and getting tougher.
Before you record even the slightest decibel spend time thinking about who you are making the podcast for.
Do you have the resources, technology, technical know-how, the right people to create and deliver a killer podcast? If not, there are companies that can help you on some or all these areas.
If you plan out your podcast series, you will quickly identify the areas you may need help in.
Podcasts are medium in which a business can meet a potential customer in an authentic way. Don’t just do it for the sake of it.
2 – The entertainment option
If your business is involved in the entertainment business, well then, you’re on the right track already. But if you are not, you can still launch a podcast designed to entertain.
You could try to appeal to one or some of the many interests your potential customers have beyond the product you are trying to sell them. This could provide you opportunities to collaborate with other companies for mutual benefit.
For example, the data protection and IT backup solutions company, Carbonite teamed up with Spoke Media to create a podcast series called Breach.
Breach was a 6-episode series that investigated the hack of Yahoo, the largest in the history of the internet and the wide-ranging effect it had.
This is a great example of a branded podcast that covers a topic in an informative and entertaining way. While the hosts do mention Carbonite during the episodes, there is no hard sell on any product.
This podcast would appeal to techies with an interest in cyber security and data protection but also people who were curious about the rise and fall of the Yahoo company, or the Russian infiltration of the 2016 US election, or for anyone curious about why hacks occur and where the information goes.
3 – The education option
This is where big numbers are not really the goal. Popularity is only one measure of success for a podcast.
An educational podcast is about reaching people that are genuinely interested in your business and products. You want to help them learn how to get the best out of their purchase or the service.
Intercom are an Irish start-up that have developed a messaging platform that businesses can attach to their website to help manage customer service and improve the customer lifecycle.
They have several podcasts, one of which is “Intercom on Customer Engagement”.
It is a series of 8 short episodes (8-10 minutes) that talk about how to effectively engage a customer of your business through messaging.
It may never light up the iTunes podcast chart, but the podcast’s concepts go beyond their product. Any company that has purchased some of their tech solutions would undoubtedly find this series a compelling listen.
4 – Make it simple to consume
While podcast listenership has increased in recent years, the growth has been modest rather than accelerated.
But, that still means 62% of Irish people are not regular listeners.
Listener growth may not have reached a tipping point for podcasts, but the time is ripe to explore the medium. The reasons people have not listened to a podcast are more related to lack of understanding of the media rather than lack of interest in the subjects.
When Edison Research surveyed people who have never listened to a podcast on the reasons ‘why?’
- 37% said they didn’t really understand what a podcast is,
- 48% said they were not sure how to listen to one,
- 65% said there was so much choice they didn’t know where to start and
- 80% said they didn’t have an app on their smartphone even though all iPhones and most Android do come with a podcast app already installed.
The clear message is, don’t assume because you put it out there, they will listen. Unless your target audience is relatively media savvy, you may need to educate some of them on where they can find your audio content.
5 – Think beyond the podcast
From a business perspective, to get the most from your podcast you’ll need to think beyond the audio.
The audio itself is not searchable, or tweetable and you can’t copy and paste a clip into a Google Doc. You can apply some Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) to the audio file and you can share the episode across social media, but the medium is not as flexible as other forms of content.
Quite often podcasters only distribute their shows on borrowed ‘real estate’ like podcast directories and social media. While these are great places to have your podcast available, they should not be the only places that your podcast lives.
Your podcast should live in something you own, ideally your website. You can distribute your episodes to podcast directories from there. It also means when you share the episodes you can create traffic to your website rather than to a third-party property.
If each episode has its own webpage you can include transcriptions, episode summaries and show notes. This means you can apply lots of SEO tactics, giving the content more chances to be found in search engines. Listeners can also share quotes across social media from the transcription.
The more paths you have leading to your podcasts the better.
Your website should be the hub for your content marketing activity. The podcast can be the centrepiece of your content.
CAN WE HELP YOUR IDEA GROW?
If you have the appetite and a little of the audio ‘know-how’, a podcast could be a great fit for your content marketing plans.
If your business needs any broadband or connectivity services to make this happen look no further than Virgin Media Business.
Through our broadband, landline, mobile and TV services, we can be the only telecoms partner your company needs. Our support structure and teams are award-winning and will make sure the services live up to your needs and expectations.