Podcasting is one of the Internet’s hidden gems. Think audio programming made by anyone, for anyone. In fact, we live in a new golden age of “Radio”, or spoken-word entertainment, something professional broadcasters have noticed, some time ago.
In the mid-00s, Apple created the conditions that gradually made podcasting popular, by making iTunes a hub for automatically subscribing to audio programming on iPods (remember those?). Since then, podcasts have grown from a futuristic talk radio for nerds to a great way to find stuff like BBC’s radio shows.
Now, podcasting, particularly in English speaking markets, is a booming pop phenomenon that attracts sponsorships, particularly from brands that cater to forward thinking, internet-savvy audiences. There are lots of fantastic shows out there, ranging from talk radio to well-produced drama.
You may not know about podcasts, or know anyone who listens to them. But, there are plenty of very sound business reasons why you should get clued up and why your business should launch a podcast of its own.
1. You can reach your customers in a whole new way
Podcasting can be an efficient way to reach out to a company’s most loyal customers. Not everyone will like spoken word programming, but those who do can consume your content in a whole new way.
In fact, podcasts can be fully enjoyed while doing chores, commuting and other situations where people might get bored by a mechanical task. Big consumers of podcasts, even sometimes choose to speed up the playback to be able to cram in more listening. This is very different from video, which requires, if not full attention, at least a screen, whereas spoken word podcasts only require the cheapest earbuds you can find.
2. Podcasts are intimate
Unlike a screen, where someone around you will see what you watch, podcasts are a very private experience. When you listen to spoken word programs with headphones, your attentive self can become immersed in a world that is entirely your own.
Podcasts can cater towards extremely specific subjects people may feel self-conscious about. Such topics can range from the extremely geeky or focused on personal health, human interest stories, politics, sexuality. Or even serialized fiction.
Few other forms of media reach people who are laying in bed, trying to fall asleep. Stories shared in podcasts form are wherever your listeners need a little time for themselves. If your company has personalities with stories to share, you could be building your brand behind someone’s closed eyelids.
3. Podcasting’s easier than good writing and it makes you a celebrity
Writing nuanced, informative and concise text that respects the reader’s time and attention is hard. We know because we do it for a living.
Speaking is also a skill, especially public speaking, which creates a tremendous amount of anxiety for many people who do it. Speaking is, however, something many are good at: think of the most fun and smart people around your professional life: people you love having lunch conversations with.
Podcasts offer a way to do public speaking in a controlled way, and to offer insights. Thanks to the human voice, podcasts can offer a much better chance at coming off as nuanced than a concisely written blog.
Also, with a podcast, a company can cultivate a human voice, literally. As hard as it is to say for a marketing agency, nobody wants to “engage with your online brand”. People want to hear from people.
With a podcast, your company’s most colorful personalities can become a mini-celebrities in your industry, while you give your most interested customers and prospects something to think about. Podcasts are also a great way to get to interview cool people.
4. Podcasts are a super-efficient way to advertise your services
When done right, ads inside podcasts hit home. And they do so while carrying few of the worst tendencies of web advertising. Internal studies done by ad companies should be taken with a grain of salt, but one survey claims that 65% of podcast listeners in the US say they’ve bought services based on podcast ads. Tracking is limited: in fact, with good podcast software, the only data being collected is the number of downloads on the show.
There’s no “changing the station” for an ad spot either, especially if it’s made to be entertaining and part of the show. Podcasting is the dream of content marketing and branded content, because optimally, listeners have better things to do than skipping an ad spot.
Imagine that you run a podcast in a specialized field, with customers who share your interests. What would happen if the most fun and smart people in your company were to talk about trends in your field, or other interests, in a way your customers or potential ones could find interesting? With some audio editing chops, your people can literally become, hold your noses, “thought leaders”.
5. The conventions of podcasting don’t allow spammy nonsense
The web, especially in the form it’s being circulated around social media for many of us, has become infested by a cutthroat, click baiting market for content. It’s literally is built around readers wasting time, whether it be during a boring day at the office or waiting for a doctor’s appointment.
If you write interesting, in-depth articles for, say, a company blog, you’ll find it hard to compete in a marketplace dominated by picture gallery carousels.
Sure, there’s lots of quality reading you can find on the web: there are even blogs dedicated to finding it. But let’s be honest: many of us should be working when we’re staring at a screen. When we’re not working, we should ideally not sit and stare at a screen even more.
You don’t need to be seated or hold up a phone to listen to podcasts. They take walks, chores, waiting in lines and lunch breaks to the next level.
6. The barrier to entry is low
Making professional video is tricky. Sets need to be well lit, clean and neat. Editing video requires impeccable timing, graphics skills and good source material. Mistakes are hard to correct. Plus, storing raw footage requires loads and loads of storage. And by the way, great video requires good audio too.
Audio on the other hand is easy to record and edit. The point is not to be an audiophile, the way some music fans obsess about audio quality. Rather, the work you put in on making podcasts sound good, should be about helping your audience listen anywhere, on smartphone speakers or with small earbuds while vacuum cleaning or commuting.
Podcasting lets you focus on what’s important: your voice. Also, users with limited data plans or spotty coverage can easily download podcasts over wifi. Spoken word audio doesn’t take a lot of space. Offline-synced podcasts a perfect companion for flights, commutes or retreats.
I’m interested but I don’t know where to start
If you don’t know about podcasts, try listening to some. If you have an Apple device, the easiest way to get started is with the Apple Podcasts app that comes with your phone or tablet. There you can find what probably amounts to the best podcast charts in the world, with tons of cool shows.
Don’t worry, we’ll soon do a list of things to listen to. Many other podcast apps have search functions built around Apple’s service.
If you don’t have an Apple device and don’t want to install iTunes on your PC, this site lets you explore Apple’s podcast charts.
Whatever device you use, we strongly recommend you give podcasts a try, both to develop yourself and your business. It’s one reason we launched the Very Finnish Problems podcast, now one of Finland’s most popular. If you need help getting your show off the ground, let us know. We’re very happy to lend a hand, a mic and an ear.