We’re in the midst of a podcast popularity boom. There are over a million podcasts, and 50% of US homes are podcast fans. This represents a massive share of the market, and podcast topics are extraordinarily diverse.
It has many content marketers wondering: is this a good way to boost a content marketing campaign?
Why Are Podcasts So Popular?
First, let’s examine how podcasts got to be so popular, seemingly out of nowhere. Why do podcasts matter to people?
· The rise of mobile. Because the majority of Americans now have smartphones (or similar mobile devices), it’s easier than ever to download and listen to podcasts on your way to work, in line at the store, while working out at the gym, or practically anywhere you have some extra time.
· The decline of reading. Internet access has made us somewhat impatient as a society, and small mobile screens make it harder to get through dense articles. As a result, more people are flocking to audio and visual content.
· The spark of the trend. It’s also beneficial that the “new wave” of podcasts had a catalyzing action: the breakout popularity of the podcast Serial, which has reached more than 230 million downloads across both series. This, in turn, sparked the rise of new podcasts, which attracted more listeners. More listeners inspired even more content producers, and the cycle continues; more content leads to more listeners, and more listeners lead to more content.
These are some of the advantages that podcasts bring to the content marketing table:
· The zeitgeist. First up, by creating a podcast you’ll be taking advantage of the current zeitgeist. America is nuts about podcasts right now, and it’s unlikely that popularity will last forever, so take advantage of it while it hasn’t yet hit a peak. As an added bonus, be engaging in a popular trend, your brand could be seen as forward-thinking, especially if you beat your competitors to the punch.
· Minimal investment. Podcasting is also a cost-effective way to produce content, especially when compared to video or graphic design elements. For less than $100, you can get a good microphone and the software necessary to edit your work; beyond that, all you’ll invest into each podcast episode is the time it takes to plan and then vocalize your content. If you go with an improvised, conversational style, that requires almost no prep work, and you can spend exactly half an hour producing a half an hour of content.
· Alternative readerships. The type of people who read long-form blog posts aren’t the same type of people who listen to podcasts. By pursuing both strategies, you’ll broaden your appeal to a wider range of people within your business’s target demographics.
· Shelf life. Podcasts aren’t a one-time creation; once you’ve recorded them, they’ll be available from your channel, indefinitely. In that way, they have a similar shelf life to evergreen content — so long as you’re choosing topics with an intent to last. The popularity of streaming video options like Facebook Live is also rising, but these types of content are best when viewed fresh, declining in popularity after their original stream.
· Shareability. Historically, podcasts are highly shareable, since they’re quickly digestible pieces of content that are usually accompanied by new insights.
· Possible sponsorships. Anything with a big enough audience is a potential target for advertisers and sponsors, and podcasts are no exception. Once you reach an audience of thousands of listeners, you may be able to attract sponsorships for your content, collecting a new stream of revenue in addition to your typical business profitability model. Or, your listeners could act as your sponsors through crowdfunding tools such as Patreon, where listeners can support your podcast in exchange for additional perks or membership within your podcast community.
Tips for Success
So how can you make sure you’re successful in your new podcast? These tips should get you started:
· Be unique. There are thousands of podcasters out there, and your broad industry category is likely already occupied. If you want to differentiate yourself and earn an audience that finds you relevant to their needs, you’ll need to be different than what’s already available. One recent example of this is What’s Good Games, a gaming podcast launched just three years ago, which is comprised of four women who have long been members of the media within the industry. Since the gaming industry media is typically dominated by men, these women have received enormously positive feedback about providing a female perspective in the industry.
· Integrate your podcast with other mediums. Make the most of your content recording time by repurposing the content and publishing it across various different media types. Embed your podcasts into your blog posts, publish videos of your latest podcast recordings on Youtube, and reference your other content within your podcasts. Imagine your content marketing engine as a mutually beneficial ecosystem that all supports each other.
· Be consistent, in timing and content. If you’re going to release a podcast weekly, make sure to release it at the same day and time every week, and if you follow a specific format, don’t deviate from it. Consistency is key to building a loyal audience.
· Reward your loyal listeners. Finally, make your listeners feel special. Reward them with special offers, respond to their social media comments, and make changes based on their feedback.
Podcasts are still a new and growing medium, so you’ll want to measure your effectiveness carefully as you start to grow an audience. Make adjustments based on how your listeners respond to your content, and don’t be afraid to experiment with different angles and strategies until you find the right fit.
Podcasting can easily be an effective part of your content marketing efforts, but like any content medium, it’s not a silver bullet; you still need to put in the research and the effort if you want results.
For more content like this, be sure to check out my podcast, The Entrepreneur Cast!