Michael Olatunji explains the benefits of creating a business podcast and provides some tips to help you get started
As you will have noticed, podcasts have become hugely popular. Taking the UK as an example, you’ll find that over 21 million people regularly listen to podcasts. They are particularly popular with younger audiences; however, 22% of people over 56 listen to podcasts, so they appeal to all ages.
Given how popular this relatively new medium is, you may be wondering whether the organisation you work for should start a podcast, or whether it could benefit your personal brand. About half of listeners tune in to develop their understanding of a topic, so podcasting can be a great way of demonstrating your industry knowledge and becoming seen as a thought leader in your niche. You could start with a short series of podcasts and find you attract a substantial audience.
As an example, let’s look at Mining Journal. Despite the rather specialist and down-to-earth subject matter, Mining Journal worked with our professional podcasting company to reach over 200,000 listeners in just 10 episodes. This is a size of audience that can be difficult to reach through more traditional content channels, such as blogs or whitepapers.
The issue with podcasting is that there is a learning curve to get the content right. In addition to being interesting and engaging, there is also lots of technology and production that you need to get to grips with. When podcasts started, they were just audio, but the majority now also include video content, which adds some complexity.
Given these challenges, let me share four key benefits of starting a podcast for your business/personal brand, and some tips to help you get your podcasting underway.
1. Tap into the Increasing Popularity of Podcasts
The main reason to consider starting a podcast for your business is simply that people like listening to them. They are also borderless since you can publish to Spotify or Apple Music, for example, and reach a global audience.
The challenge is in how to cut through the noise. While it is hard to pin down a specific number, there are estimated to be between three and five million podcasts worldwide. Getting noticed by your target audience can, therefore, be tricky.
One way of getting noticed is to demonstrate your commitment. By releasing between three and five episodes in one go, you are much more likely to become featured in the ‘New and Interesting’ section on Spotify and Apple Music.
Another way of getting found is to use podcast SEO. Just like regular SEO, you need to understand your target keywords and use them in a well-curated podcast description as well as your episode synopses. It’s always a good idea to include transcripts of the podcast as well, not only for great SEO but also to benefit those who are hard of hearing (or who just prefer written content). The transcript can also be converted into captions for video content.
Adding timestamps and other markups to your YouTube videos also makes them more searchable. Again, knowing your audience and keywords is essential to ensure that your podcasts speak to your audience’s questions using searchable words and phrases.
If you want to gain traction fast, you should consider some advertising. Create some short clips and trailers for your podcast and funnel some money into advertising on YouTube, Spotify and/or Apple Music. Make sure your ads are no longer than 15 seconds to grab interest and tease the content.
Finally, a great way of attracting a new audience is by featuring guests on your podcast.
2. Look at Opportunities for Cross-Promotion
Bringing in guests is a great way of cross-promoting your podcast and piggybacking on your guest’s existing audience. Featuring guests also enhances the perception of you as a thought leader while providing more variety within your content.
Hosting guests can, however, pose a number of challenges. Sometimes the biggest challenge is getting your guest to actually show up. One top tip is, once you have booked the guest, to immediately book their travel and accommodation ─ even if it’s just an Uber to the studio. Even though it may cost a little more, it locks them into a commitment and they’ll be far less likely to back out.
Sometimes guests will still cancel. One way to deal with this is to switch to a remote interview. Video calls can suffer from connection difficulties or low quality; however, they are better than nothing. If you are working with an established studio, there may also be an opportunity to send the guest to a local studio to do the recording, which would avoid any loss in quality.
And as executive support professionals, you’ll appreciate the need for a backup plan. If you pin all of your content ideas on your guest showing up, you will, once in a while, be caught out. Always have backup content ideas and a host who knows how to adapt on the fly.
If you are featuring a guest, always have an introduction meeting before recording. The meeting will help you get to know the guest and form a relationship between the guest and the host ─ translating into a warmer, friendlier relationship on air.
3. Focus on Being Interactive and Engaging
Of all forms of content, podcasts are one of the most interactive. You can podcast about anything, whether it’s incredibly niche or fairly broad and generic, and there will be people interested in listening and learning more.
What’s more, people will have opinions, meaning you can get real interactions with your listeners. Interaction tends to happen in one of three ways: asynchronous interaction via comments, instant interaction via livestream commenting, or real-time interaction via call-ins.
Find ways to include interaction within your podcast and you’ll create a lot of audience engagement. Comments can also be very useful when coming up with new content ideas, or you could include a Q&A segment within your regular podcast.
4. Understand the Multi-Format Options
One of the best business cases for podcasts is that the content can be easily chopped into a multitude of different formats for different channels. A long-form podcast can be chunked into clips for social media and YouTube, segments for marketing and advertising, and even turned into blog posts.
Among all content types, podcasts are perhaps the most multi-purpose, making them one of the most cost-effective as well. A single 30-minute episode could produce a hundred pieces of content in the form of social clips, soundbites, and blogs.
Getting content that can be chunked down into pleasing soundbites is, however, harder than you might imagine. It’s all down to your pre-production ─ it takes a lot of planning to find the ideal structure for the episode. You also need a good host who knows how to summarise things neatly, when to pause and when to move things along.
If you are featuring a guest, let them know the questions in advance so that they can prepare useful and concise answers that are far richer in information. It’s always hard to think of everything in the moment. It is then the job of the host to make the questions seem natural and organic despite the preparation.
It can also be useful to coach less experienced guests on how to minimise filler words like ‘err’ and ‘erm’ and when to take pauses. A guest who talks at length, with lots of filler words and very few pauses, makes for a difficult editing process. How can you chunk up an endless stream of speech?
One idea can be to have an agreed signal, such as the host raising their hand slightly so the guest knows when to bring their sentence to a natural end so the host can speak.
If you are setting up cameras to record video content at the same time, it’s always best to have a few different angles set up. Then, when it comes to editing, you can simply switch between angles to make the cuts appear seamless.
A final tip to help with editing is to have someone off camera making note of the times when particularly interesting things were said. This makes the editor’s job a lot easier and means you know how to market the episode before the final edit is complete.
Podcasts can be an amazing marketing tool. They do, however, take a lot of planning to get right. Between content, production, marketing, guests, hosting and editing, there are lots of pieces that need to align.
These tips should help you get started. However, it is always useful to have at least one team member who is experienced in producing podcasts, or alternatively, use an agency so you get things right the first time.
Production quality is very important. Get it right and your audience will stay with you! Just make sure that your content can be used for a multitude of channels. That way you will get the best value from the time and money that you invest in creating your podcasts.