This post by my friend Heidi Miller is right on the mark: 70 million Americans agree: podcasting is still cool. Heidi cites an Edison Research study that shows an 11% increase in the U.S. podcast audience since 2006. I would guess that among business people, this growth is even higher.
Heidi also points out an important benefit of podcasting: the commitment required to listen. She writes:
Podcasting is different from newer social networking tools. Podcasting requires a commitment. Not just from the podcaster, but also from the listener. Sure, listeners can download a file or listen directly from their computers, and Webster [presenting Edison's research] did point out that many listeners never even transfer the podcast to a mobile device.
Regular podcast listeners must not only subscribe to a feed, but also download the file to an mp3 player and commit to listening to the entire episode in a linear format. No skimming, no scanning, no tl;dr (too long; didn't read). There is no shortcut for listening to a podcast.
You have to want it, not just "Like" it.
In this age of short attention span theater, how much value would a podcast listener bring to your organization? Someone who would be willing and eager to pay attention to your content for, say 30 minutes straight every week or month?
Some people would point to this commitment as a liability. Sure, it can be. And that’s why many communicators and marketers don’t rely on the podcasting channel alone. But if you’re looking to engage with an audience that’s truly interested in what you have to say, a podcast can be the perfect solution. Over the past five years, I’ve worked with dozens of organizations that have used podcasts to:
- Establish thought leadership in a niche
- Nurture a community
- Educate listeners on a particular subject (science, technology, health)
- Engage far-flung employees
- Build relationships with customers
- Get prospects interested in an idea, product or service
- Generate buzz before an event
- Create interesting content during a conference or trade show.
These are just a few examples. What do you think about podcasting? Is the commitment a liability or an asset?