Ofcom’s Media Nations report released last year found that one in eight people in the UK listen to a podcast every week – a figure that is more than double what it was in 2014.
The medium of podcasting has well and truly exploded, allowing storytellers, celebrities and speakers to dramatically increase the breadth and depth of their personal brand, and capitalise on the high levels of engagement, reach and advocacy that podcasts can unlock.
If we were to discuss this new media format relative to the law of diffusion of innovation, the uptake of podcasts is now well beyond the territory of early adopters – half of those that currently listen to podcasts on a weekly basis have only begun to do so within the past two years.
The popularity of podcasting in the consumer market is nearing the point of saturation. But for the B2B market, business owners and communications professionals find themselves in an exciting time.
If you’re considering starting a business podcast, or better yet, you’ve already launched one, these are 5 forms of self sabotage we urge you to avoid.
Even for business owners with bags of experience in public speaking, events hosting and business conversations that vary widely across the spectrum of comfort, the idea of podcasting can still be intimidating.
Conversation is instantaneous, and when you enter into this medium, every word that comes out of your mouth is in essence representative of your brand. Extend that for a time of 30 minutes plus (some podcasts happily tow the 120-minute mark) and that’s a lot of opportunities to put your foot in it.
But you can’t let your apprehensions prevent you from relinquishing any control.
The number one benefit of a podcast is its ability to humanise your business. By scripting an interview you not only remove all potential of accessing these benefits, but your listeners will see through it straight away.
Further to the previous point, one way you can quench your inner control freak without compromising the authenticity of your podcasts is in the post production process – something which a lot of business owners overlook.
Most conversations and interviews can take a few questions to get warmed up and break into a comfortable, flowing back and forth.
And too many podcasts in their infancy make the mistake of leaving the evidence of this warm up in the final edit.
Both presenter(s) and guests(s) need to feel at ease to achieve the most listenable result. Don’t be afraid of just chatting aimlessly until you’ve broken the ice and settled into a groove. You can then edit it retrospectively to ensure it kicks off at the point things feel good, and leave the awkward small talk and preamble on the cutting room floor.
Recording your introduction and conclusion retrospectively also gives you the opportunity to give your shows some structure without preventing the body of each episode feeling like a natural conversation.
The great thing about podcasts is that, in terms of increasing brand awareness and reach, they can be mutually beneficial for both the presenter and guest.
Say your recruitment company interviews an outspoken chief exec within the financial services industry, and boom, you’ve suddenly tapped into a whole new pool of prospective talent. And likewise, any of your familiars with an interest in the industry might come across a voice they haven’t heard before.
But for your podcast to bring you all the benefits you deserve in terms of brand awareness and further business development opportunities, you must aspire for more than just temporary spikes of listeners, fairweather audiences that only tune in for the one episodes relevant to them.
A successful podcast is one that expands its appeal beyond surface level relevance.
Think about every business influencer you follow. Their interests aren’t necessarily directly in line with yours, but their personal brand is such that they encourage you to learn about and explore new areas, industries, insights, and individuals.
They are the DJ curating a playlist of business insight for your listening pleasure, and you trust their ability to do so - because the chances are that even if it’s not your usual cup of tea, you’ll enjoy it for the way it’s presented.
So aspire to curate a format and content that can build a dedicated core of listeners that tune in for each and every episode.
Having features unique to your podcast is a good way to differentiate yourself here. But avoid the basic “would you rather” scenarios and “desert island disc” questions. These are a step in the right direction, but have some pride. Be a bit more creative. Make something your own, and watch how your followership rewards you.
This is a big one. Nothing pre-emptively writes a new podcast’s obituary like phrases such as “we haven’t established a regular schedule yet”.
In most cases, if you don’t have an established frequency from the off, you never will. And this will impact your ability to retain a consistently strong audience.
Look to get at least three or four strong, properly formatted and edited shows under your belt before you make your podcast public.
Don’t be that business that shouts about their latest new media endeavour long before it’s ready for human consumption. If you need to work in silence for a bit, then so be it.
Coming out of the blocks with at least some backlog of shows is a great way to ensure you can stick to an ongoing schedule of future content without having to rush.
A podcast should do more than simply leave you with 30-60 minutes of audio. It should leave you with a highly value-added asset which you can repurpose in a wonderful variety of formats, and across a number of channels.
You might touch upon a niche topic in a podcast which you can expand upon in a blog piece, and then link it back to the podcast. You can even record a live video feed of your podcasts as you record them, then portion each episode out into its most provocative, attention-grabbing soundbites to schedule across your social channels.
Treat it like you would content of any format across any channel – reuse, recycle and repurpose it to reinforce your status within your marketplace, as a business who is worth listening to.