Yes, Virginia, There Really Is an Audience for Podcasts.

by Kat French |
Ad

I had the pleasure of attending my first Doe-Anderson Holiday Party last week.  It was a good chance to mingle with some of the folks around the agency that I don’t get a chance to talk to very often.  Mostly what we talked about was work (because advertising people are functionally incapable of not thinking about work.)  

At any rate, I was taken aback by something a coworker said to me.

“Do people really listen to podcasts?”

Ironically enough, when I first met Jason, he’d already heard about me, and my perspective on social media–from a podcast.  

Not only do people listen to podcasts, but earlier this year eMarketer predicted podcasting advertising spend to quintuple over the next five years.  In 2006, $80 million was spent on podcast advertising.  For an emerging media, that’s a substantial figure.  According to ReadWriteWeb, Wizzard Media (a podcasting network) reported that they’d reached the 1 billion download mark in 2007.  I’d have to assume that those numbers are dwarfed by those of iTunes, the dominant podcast client.  

So for those who are unfamiliar with podcasting, here’s a handy video from Common Craft that explains what podcasting is, in plain English:

Podcasting as a marketing tool can be really powerful.  Particularly if your brand includes an educational element, podcasts can be a great way to communicate with those who are passionate about learning more.  A good example is cookware.  

People who are passionate about food are always looking for new recipes, tips, and for the best way to care for that expensive cookware to make it last.  If a cookware brand produced a fun, engaging podcast that provided content geared towards feeding that passion, then they’ve created a powerful, direct communication channel to their most enthusiastic brand fans.   If they opened the podcast up to user questions, they’ve made that communication channel feel deeply personal. 

Podcasting can be a nice option for companies who want to start experimenting with social media and begin communicating in a more human voice, but who aren’t ready to deal with moderating comments on a blog.  It’s far more common for a podcast to be delivered in ways that don’t allow for comments than it is for a blog to have comments closed.   

Video podcasting is another element of podcasting that has experienced explosive growth, and which doesn’t require a great deal more equipment or technical proficiency than audio podcasting.  According to ITwire, more people listen to podcasts from their PC than from an iPod anyway, so if you’re considering a video podcast, market penetration of video-enabled media devices shouldn’t be a deterrant.  

Promotion and distribution is a more difficult task than production, in most cases.  For a brand, featuring the podcast prominently on their website is a good idea, and so is utilizing multiple distribution networks.  

Promoting a podcast is much like promoting a blog–networking with other content producers in your niche is a good way to get noticed.  But ultimately, the only way to achieve long term success is to keep producing compelling content, reliably and frequently.  

If you’re interested in finding out more about the nuts and bolts basics of how to do a podcast, you can find that here.   Ultimately, though, the success or failure of a podcast is going to lie in its content strategy, rather than technological wizardry.  

As I wrap this post up, I’d love to hear from others in the comments.  What have your experiences with podcasting been like?  What was the hardest part?  What benchmarks do you set for yourself as a podcaster?  Surprises along the way?


About the Author

Kat French

Kat French is the Client Services and Content Manager at SME Digital. An exceptional writer, Kat combines creativity with an agile, get-it-done attitude across a broad range of experience in content strategy, copywriting, community management and social media marketing. She has worked with national brands like Maker's Mark, Daytona Beach Tourism, CafePress and more.