The most agile of businesses are rising to the challenges of pandemic life. By retooling communication plans, they are staying top of mind and cutting through the noise. While a myriad of tools out there will promise the world and then some, few are as cost-effective and far reaching as a well-produced podcast. In the ten points below, we’ll explore why that is, and what you should consider before taking to the airwaves.
Podcasting is the perfect medium for recording while teams are apart. Of course, there are unavoidable at-home sound disruptions — children, dogs, loud neighbors, a spouse blending their green smoothie. Instead of striving for studio-quality, see this as an opportunity. Podcasts are not about perfection; rather, they’re about being genuine, relatable and anecdotal. On the popular podcast “Unqualified,” host Anna Farris often gets disrupted by her son Jack barging in her recording room. As an adept podcast host and long-time actor, Anna uses these moments for offshoot topics, such as being a working parent.
2. BUILD LOYALTY
Podcasting is a unique opportunity for CEOs and upper level leadership to step out from behind the corporate veil. Unlike in video, participants can take their time telling stories, sharing relatable anecdotes and thoroughly exploring topics, which humanizes the brand and the team. Getting to meet a more personal side of otherwise guarded individuals can lead to increased loyalty amongst employees and customers, as well as attract new ones.
3. BRAND AWARENESS
Rather than blatantly advertising their products or service, I encourage working in value propositions, products or services to the conversation organically. A great place to start is discussing how core values pertain to current social issues like BLM, #MeToo, as well as global challenges such as pandemics, animal rights and environmental issues. As well, discussions relating to current news can be good for clicks, but going after audiences through “hot topics” should align with a bigger strategy. While this is a common inclination, chasing clicks isn’t a guaranteed benefit if they aren’t the right audience. This especially holds true in B-to-B environments, where 10 of the right listeners are far more valuable than 10,000 of the wrong ones.
The first few episodes are always experimental. It takes time to try out styles and formats to see what works and what doesn’t. Some podcasts I’ve worked on have started out with a single host and eventually moved to the different host per episode format, which can lack consistency, but bring a new perspective to each subject matter. The subject or content may also define the style. Financial content is typically more buttoned up, but entertainment podcasts might opt to keep gaffs in. You can test different ways until your podcast has an identity that feels right. The speed from recording to posting is much quicker than other types of media so there’s room to play around.
One of the biggest advantages to podcasting is the ability of the recording process to be done with as much or as little planning as is appropriate. For instance, if something major happens in the world that directly impacts your business and it needs immediate addressing, you can be recording in minutes and publishing within hours. For fields like finance, pharmaceuticals and politics where significant events unfold in a matter of moments, it’s often necessary to provide an immediate reaction. While Twitter is great for instant communication, providing a podcast link will make that tweet far more substantial.
There are multiple ways podcasts are extraordinarily accessible for listeners. First, they are mostly free, so audiences can subscribe, listen and download as many episodes as they’d like. Second, retrieving a new episode could not be easier. Most devices, whether Android or Apple, have built-in podcast apps with well designed user interfaces. Most music and streaming apps have podcasts available as well, including Apple Podcast, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, Pandora and even Alexa. And because audio files are so small, episodes are typically downloaded in a matter of seconds.
7. ACCESS TO METRICS
All the major podcast platforms are aware of the importance of data so you can measure success and share with colleagues or clients. My hosting company of choice, Buzzsprout, provides insight into how the entire show is performing, as well as a detailed look at each individual episode. This includes downloads (plays), what they listened from (Browser, podcast platform, Social Media) and the device (iphone, android, PC), and where in the world your listeners are. For an even deeper dive, there are paid services that measure social media, video and podcast analytics and provide insights.
8. BULK RECORDING
Some prefer to record multiple podcast episodes at once so they can fill their editorial calendar well into the future. This can be a great benefit and maximize time, resources and budget. However, in order to bulk record, the subject matter and nature of the industry being discussed must not be prone to sudden changes. For instance, “SUPERNATURAL” hosted by Ashley Flowers, are often based on events that took place decades ago and are unlikely to suddenly become obsolete. However, a financial podcast where analysts discuss stock valuations and recent events may not be applicable or factually correct if not posted immediately. So while bulk recording is a great tool for building a show, it’s dependent on the subject matter.
Compared with video and other formats, the cost of producing a podcast is far less expensive. While it still requires licensing soundtracks, hiring a producer, licensing theme music, and a subscription with a hosting platform, the cost to get started is pretty low. Podcast.co’s Jamie Ashbook discusses two ways of measuring Podcast ROI. The first pertains to financials, as a sales tool, or getting sponsors. The second is podcast success, or metrics, site traffic, social engagement and podcast reviews. Jamie‘s bottom line is that measuring ROI is entirely depends on your goals, whether it’s about generating revenue or boosting awareness of your brand.
10. BUILD CREDIBILITY
Podcasting is a highly intellectual medium. It encourages deep thought and exploratory conversation on various subject matters that are relevant to your industry. For the niche expertise your business holds, a properly tagged episode can be amongst the first items that appear in search engines. Embedding podcast episodes into social media accounts like Twitter, Facebook or Linkedin can distinguish your voice from others by indicating the intellect that goes behind your product or service. Automatic transcription services built into many of the podcast platforms will make your brand even more searchable.
So, Should You Podcast? Maybe not…
Here’s a few questions you should ask yourself if you’re on the fence:
- Will my team and I make a long-term commitment to this? Podcasting is a long-term commitment. It takes time to find your voice, style and niche, and to build an audience.
- Are we prepared to invest in a production team to ensure proper planning and editing? Assuming its as easy as buying a few microphones and downloading editing software is a huge mistake — I’ve seen it a few times now. While podcasting is exponentially cheaper than video, it still requires investment to produce episodes.
- Do you have a niche or expertise that colleagues within your business can speak of? You’re going to need a subject matter. Many businesses and professions lend themselves to talk-media, but not all do.
- Do we have an intended audience or means to reach them, such as a newsletter or social media handles? This isn’t a deal-breaker, but you should have an initial means of reaching an audience. Just simply hitting “publish” will not guarantee anything, even for celebrities and big names who have a following elsewhere. People need to know your show exists.
- Do we have a host or set of hosts who are committed to this? Someone is going to have to host or share the responsibility. Or, you can hire a host but this will risk coming off disingenuous. Hired hosts can do a great job, but it depends on your goals.