The concept of links and layers on websites has its analog in radio with podcasts. And one of the top practitioners is NPR, which hosts a majority of the most downloaded podcasts.
The rapid rise in popularity of podcasts affirms that people still like to listen to news, information and music, whether it’s on the radio, laptop or mobile device. It should be a reminder that podcasts offer a relatively inexpensive channel to deepen engagement with an audience, followers or customers.
Much like online newsrooms that serve as self-publishing platforms, podcasts act like your personal radio station. You get to decide the play list. Whether it’s you talking, customers describing how they use your product or guests who pass along useful information.
NPR’s approach to podcasts is instructive. It airs stories and offers podcasts to allow listeners to get into the topic in more depth. A good example is a new series hosted by Guy Raz that zeroes in on entrepreneurs. One of his first pieces centered on Cathy Hughes, an African-American woman who broke the sound barrier on radio and now owns an empire of 50 radio stations. Listeners got a taste of the story on air, but can hear the whole story on a podcast.
This technique of layering a story works at multiple levels. Many listeners will be satisfied with the shorter version of the story on air. Others will want more. The podcast becomes that more.
Ray sets a good example to follow. As the host and editorial director of the TED Talk Radio Hour, Raz has mastered the art of visual storytelling that is seductively entertaining and informative. His selection of speakers, use of visual assets and promotion on channels such as YouTube have given TED Talks broad exposure and a loyal audience. Now he is bringing those same elements to audio storytelling with the use of podcasts.
Foundation Digital has created an infographic tracing the rise of podcasting (almost 30 million hours produced annually), some of its most popular applications (music, comedy and news) and the average length (22 minutes).
As we’ve mention in a previous blog about the Freakonomics Radio podcast, this audio platform can be an excellent addition to a content marketing agenda. But it takes a little more effort than whipping out a tape recorder and starting to talk.
Like other forms of content marketing, you need to think about your audience and what will interest them that you can provide. Your content should align with your brand and be relevant to your brand promise. And it should be professional. Good sound quality, sharp editing and a script that pops along are necessary ingredients for podcasts to be downloaded and heard.
The equipment to produce podcasts has become much more accessible, just like video tools. You might need a little help to get started and find your groove. The good news that you don’t need a sound stage or production house to create your own informative and entertaining podcasts. (Don’t forget the entertainment part.)
Podcasts can be posted on websites, blogs and social media, giving your audience a chance to sample your product, service of advice before taking a deeper drink. If done right, yours is the voice someone will be listening to while sitting in congested traffic going to or coming home from work. It’s the next best thing to having a captive audience.