We’re all told that small businesses must have a social media presence. Whilst this will likely depend on the market,  Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube are all staples of an effective social media strategy. Whether the aim is to generate leads, raise awareness or simply show that you’re active, podcasts are another valuable tool in the social media armoury. Like any form of content, they have some quirks which, as an experienced podcast producer, I’ll help to highlight.

Most of us are aware of the term ‘podcast’. Podcasting has been around since 2004 in the early days of the iPod, with most iPod/iPhone/iPad users recognising the familiar purple icon. Unlike most other forms of social media, podcasts are a purely auditory experience – named after a combination of iPod and radio broadcast. Typically streamed over the internet, podcasts have soared in popularity in recent years with a tidal wave of interviews, discussions, debates and even sitcoms hitting the airwaves to entertain and inform listeners.

However, statistics show that only 5.9m Brits regularly listen to podcasts – so is it worth investing the time and resource into launching something?

I think yes – but not for the reasons you might expect.

Firstly – podcasts (unlike YouTube) are notoriously difficult to monetise. Podcast advertising is a growing industry, but only channels with tens of thousands of downloads per month can engage a sponsor and provide a direct return on investment. Clearly, hitting 10,000+ downloads a month is a struggle for most small businesses without large marketing budgets or an existing, dedicated following – so why bother?

Because podcasts can reach your target audience at times when nothing else can.

A good podcast will need to meet several criteria:

  • Interesting, engaging content (and episode description!)
  • Pleasurable listening experience – clear audio, neat editing and sensible format
  • Appropriate length
  • Provide genuine value to the listener

Without any of these features, a podcast producer will struggle to gain any real traction (like tweeting without any followers). However, when done right, a well-produced podcast will capture your audience’s imagination and quickly become a staple of their commute/lunch-break/gym session/dog walk (insert any other tedious task here!).

This is the beauty of podcasts – unlike videos or photos, your audience doesn’t have to have to be staring at a screen and therefore demands less attention. With our attention spans at an all-time low and under massive demand, podcasts have become an incredibly powerful tool to share a message (or details of a product or service) and therefore presents a great, ultra-low-cost opportunity for small businesses compared to live broadcasting.

Thankfully, starting a podcast is relatively straightforward and can be done with equipment most of us would already have to hand. Lots of great resources exist about choosing a microphone, editing software, hosting and all of the other key technical considerations but Podcast Master by Ben Green is a great place to start.

Don’t be fooled by expensive production companies – give it a go today!

Many thanks to Casey for this guest blog. Keen to learn more about starting a podcast? Started a podcast but having difficulty in monetising it? Get in touch with Casey for more information.

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