Podcasting has created a popular alternative media channel for consumers and an intriguing option for brands in search of new ways to build and engage a targeted audience. Last year Pew Research Center reported that the percentage of people who confirmed listening to at least one podcast in the past month rose from 9% in 2008 to 17% in 2015.
As they become more and more mainstream, I wanted to explore this topic with a podcasting expert, so I called upon Jo Painter, founder of The PEOPLE Chronicles, to provide insight into how advisors can add podcasting to their marketing and communications strategies. Here’s what she had to say…
BH: Podcasting has surged in popularity in recent years. What’s driving this trend?
JP: I believe there are two major forces driving the popularity of podcasting, the ubiquity of mobile devices and connectivity to the internet and consumer ability to program devices in accordance with their personal listening desires and consumption habits.
More people have access to the internet and own mobile devices. Most cars are blue tooth capable and equipped with USB ports. In fact, a base model car today may actually have windows that you have to manually wind up and down yet that same base model car will come equipped with USB ports! Hot Spots are common in businesses and businesses offer free wifi to their customers. Transportation terminals are equipped with charging and docking ports for mobile devices. Comcast just recently increased bandwidth offers to a terabyte to allow for 24/7 streaming.
When streaming and on-demand capabilities became widely available consumers were empowered to make their own consumption choices. Consumers want to access the information that interests them when they want it. No longer do consumers have to watch or listen to content that editors selected for them. The demand for personal choice grew and podcast popularity grew with it.
Entrepreneurs and forward thinking radio companies, in particular NPR, met the demand by producing podcasts around every topic imaginable. If you want to know about gardening, marketing, cooking, investing, the story behind the news or science, there is a podcast for that. You get the picture. You can find podcasts that expound on every topic imaginable!
The demand for quality content of personal interest is high. As demand increases so does supply. It’s basic economics really. Podcasting provides limitless opportunities to supply the demand for content.
BH: What goes into running a podcast? Is it expensive? Time consuming?
JP: Creativity and Imagination are two key factors when it comes to podcasting. I capitalize Creativity and Imagination because they are the most important factors. If you are curious and can imagine it, you can podcast it! The more creative you are the more interesting or appealing the podcast will be. Imagine your message being spread far and wide and hundreds, thousands, or millions of lives touched by your story. Imagine consistently producing ideas and stories that people will want to hear.
Now let’s imagine creating that podcast. A little planning goes a long way. Determine your topic, your format and your location before your push play and record.
Podcasting doesn’t have to be expensive. It can be as basic as recording into your phone, saving and uploading the file. If you are serious about podcasting you will want a PC with Windows XP or better, a soundcard, a minimum of 600 MB of RAM, at least 2 to 3 GB of Hard Drive Space and In/Out or Mic/Headphone Jacks. You can create a studio and invest in mics and software to edit your audio files.
Don’t forget to invest in yourself in the process. Invest in developing your personal skills such as interviewing, delivery and listening.
The bottom line is you get out of it what you put into it. Determine your budget and once again creativity comes into play. With a little research you can find the biggest bang for your buck. I would encourage you to invest whatever you can into your audio. This same line of thinking applies to the amount of time you put into your podcast project. Taking the time to do a little editing will result in better audio quality for your podcast.
BH: How do you build and grow a listener base?
JP: Building and growing a listener base is a key. It is this exposure piece that is integral to the success of your podcast project. Once you take the time to produce a quality podcast you want people to hear it.
It is best if you can align yourself with an established platform that has a built-in audience reach. For example, you can align yourself with www.thepeoplechronicles.com and get automatic exposure to a large listening base with a wide range of interests.
Stepping outside your network with your podcast generates awareness of your brand to a whole new audience. Sharing your podcast only with your network can sometimes be like preaching to the choir. The choir is interested in your content and will consume it, but if you step outside your choir and share your content with people who aren’t typically exposed to your message, you will broaden your base and hopefully gain some new ‘choir’ members.
BH: What are some of the common mistakes you see rookie podcasters make?
JP: Poor technical quality or execution and no strategy for content and exposure are beginner mistakes. Remember, success is built on mistakes. The key here is you don’t have to make all the mistakes. Learn from others. Take the time upfront to plan, plan, plan. Research and map your strategy. We already discussed choosing your topic and format. That’s usually the easiest because most hosts discuss topics that excite them. It is an opportunity to expound on your passions.
Now take the time for the more challenging part. If you are not an audio engineer you will feel like one when you are done your research. Your research list should include podcast gear, podcast editing software like adobe or audacity. Take the time to learn how to create, edit and upload MP3 files.
Where will you upload your files? Collaboration is key. Align yourself with a podcast host. Take the time to properly tag your podcast so it is searchable. Know your intended audience and research how to find them so they can find you.
BH: How do you measure the success of a podcast? And when can expect to start seeing results?
JP: You must first define success before you can measure it. What is the goal of your podcast. Pose and answer questions in order to develop a matrix to measure success. For example:
Do you want to teach something?
Did the podcast content contain the necessary material to reach the outcome?
Did you connect with the appropriate professionals or experts to validate that teaching?
Did you connect with the consumers who will benefit from the material you taught?
Results can be seen immediately in the raw consumption numbers. Those numbers will naturally increase when you maintain consistency with your podcast. How frequently will you release a new podcast, daily, weekly or monthly? Whatever you decide make sure you are consistent. This will build a listener base, but that is just a piece of the picture.
Consumption numbers are just a piece of the picture. Success is measured in more than numbers. Ask yourself, what are the extenuating benefits of having been exposed to your podcast? When you have that answer you must strive to meet the challenge of making the benefits accessible to as many people as possible. In the end you will produce a better podcast that will attract and keep more listeners. This will also make your job as a podcaster a lot easier.
About Jo Painter: After 30 years in commercial radio, as a General Manager, Program Director and host of an open forum talk show, Jo Painter partnered with Toni Reece at The PEOPLE Academy, LLC. The PEOPLE Chronicles is a web- based platform that is powered by the People Academy. The art of storytelling is used to showcase, in video and podcast form, the power of people and the impact of the work they do in the community. Jo hosts a weekly series, ‘What’s The Story’, one of 4 PEOPLE CHRONICLES’ Original Story Series. Jo works with Toni Reece and Gammy Nieves to help organizations and individuals in the community discover and share their own stories. Contact Jo Painter at 610-763-0835 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more at www.thepeoplechronicles.com or www./thepeoplechronicles.com/jo-painter/