In June 2005, Apple released version 4.9 of iTunes, which included built-in support for podcasts. So why are podcasts only now becoming so popular, some ten years later? For one, the iPhone (and related smartphones) had yet to be invented in 2005.
- It’s easier than ever to listen to podcasts (e.g. smartphone app, Apple CarPlay, Stitcher Radio, SoundCloud, etc.)
- It’s easy and cost-effective to create your own podcast
- It’s addictive: people who listen to podcasts listen to a lot of them
- Serial, a podcast from the creators of This American Life, was a sensation and drew the attention of mainstream media. Now, every article about podcasts (like this one) adds to their overall interest
I connected with a few experts to explore the benefits of starting a podcast.
Benefit: A Tool in Your Content Marketing Toolbox
Content marketers like to create numerous flavors of content around a theme: blog posts, eBooks, videos, SlideShares, infographics. How do podcasts fit into the mix?
According to Seth Price (@sethstuff), VP Industry Relations at Placester, “Podcasts allow us as a company to humanize what we do. The consumer journey is so fragmented today, it's no longer enough to blog, create video and engage on social. You have to create experiences for the micro-moments that consumers have every day.”
According to PR Warrior’s Young, his podcast is an effective complement to his blog. While his blog covers the broad topics of PR, social media and content marketing, his podcast has a narrower focus on personal branding for business professionals.
“That's the beauty of podcasts: they allow you to go deep on a niche of the broader topic you already talk and create content about,” said Young.
Benefit: Subscriptions are Gold
In this age of splintered attention, subscriptions are gold. I subscribe to 17 marketing-related podcasts via the Podcasts app on my iPhone. I listen to them when I’m getting ready for work in the morning. As long as these podcasts stay interesting to me, they’ll be a part of my morning routine.
And that relationship is closer and more consistent than other forms of media. I may visit your company’s blog, for instance, but it’s not part of my daily routine. Even among subscriptions, not all are created equal. While I eagerly anticipate episodes of my favorite podcasts, I rarely get excited over the latest issue of an email newsletter.
Benefit: Closer Connections with Listeners
I don’t know about you, but I’ve never felt close with a blog post. Podcasts, on the other hand, have the potential to build intimate connections between host and listener.
According to Kerry O'Shea Gorgone (@KerryGorgone), host of the Marketing Smarts Podcast, “Podcasts help us reach people in a more personal way: I’m in their earbuds while they’re at the gym, or talking with them while they’re driving home from work.”
The intimacy that O’Shea Gorgone builds with her audience must be working: Marketing Smarts has been recognized as a top podcast from the likes of Cision, Fast Company, Ragan Communications and Social Media Explorer.
According to Placester’s Price, “Podcasts are the only medium where the consumer expects to multitask during their consumption. Listeners actually spend 30-45 minutes hearing your voice, as opposed to just bookmarking your article to read later. It's very intimate.”
When listeners send Price feedback about his podcasts, it’s as if they know him personally. The potential for personal connections goes beyond what’s possible with blogging.
Benefit: Personal Branding
By way of building intimate connections with listeners, podcast hosts develop (or strengthen) their personal brands. Placester’s Price has seen requests to speak at industry events climb from one per month to 3 to 4 per month.
O’Shea Gorgone was included in an Inc. article, “8 Great Role Models for Wowing a Crowd,” alongside Steve Jobs and Tony Robbins. After that, O’Shea Gorgone’s mother listened to Marketing Smarts for the first time. And she liked it.
“I’ve met so many incredible people through the podcast, and it’s brought me speaking opportunities, interviews and so much more. My network has expanded,” said O’Shea Gorgone.
In a recent blog post, PR Warrior’s Young urged people to take charge of your professional personal brand. Young lists the following as the key components of your personal brand:
- The content you produce
- The connections you make
- The conversations you drive
- The collaborations you're involved in
You can address each of these elements with podcasting. As such, starting a podcast may be an effective way to take charge of your personal brand.
Benefit: Build Relationships with Influencers
The guests you interview on your podcast can become your most loyal ambassadors and advocates. When they appear on your podcast, they’ll share it on social media. And they may recommend you or your organization to customers, contacts and other influencers.
For Price’s Craft of Marketing podcast, his goals “were centered around building a tribe, leveraging the influencers in the marketing space and building relationships with guests.”
According to O’Shea Gorgone, “Everything comes back to relationships. The fact that I get to reach so many people at once has helped me forge relationships with smart, accomplished professionals all over the world.”
Podcasts are Here to Stay
It’s harder than ever to reach people. Emails are left unread. Phone calls are left unanswered. Websites are only visited when interesting links are shared on social media.
Add it all up and it’s not surprising that podcasts have taken off. Subscribe to podcasts, then tune in on your walk, your workout or your train ride. Speaking of which, it’s time for me to go — I have a podcast ready to play and it’s time to get ready for work. Have a good day!