So what exactly is a Podcast?
The word Podcast gets thrown around a lot these days but what exactly is a Podcast? Think of a podcast as a radio show that you can subscribe to or download at any time. It may help to think of it kind of like TIVO for audio programs. In fact, a podcast is a web feed of audio or video files placed on the Internet for anyone to subscribe to, or download. Search online and you’ll find a range of Podcasts available on nearly every topic imaginable. They range from entertainment focused to educational to business oriented and everywhere in between.
A podcast differs from a simple download in that new content may be automatically delivered. Users need not click into your website for important specials since all of this information may be automatically downloaded. A podcast show consists of a series of individual episodes that you can listen to and view on-line or offline whenever and wherever you want.
While podcasting has been around for about five years now remarkably, the term itself, has only been around since 2004. It’s a contraction of IPod (The most popular MP3 player) and broadcasting. However, you don’t even have to have an MP3 player to listen to programs. You can ‘subscribe’ to an entire podcast series using software on your PC or listen to a single episode at a time by using a web browser. Subscribing to a podcast ensures that all new shows are automatically downloaded to your computer as they are published, and even better subscribing is generally free.
If you do happen to have an MP3 player, the next time you sync your device, your podcasts will be downloaded for listening on the go. If you don’t want to subscribe, but rather just want a copy of a particular episode, you can just click the “Download” button to save to your hard disk. Once downloaded you can then manage it and play it like you would any other audio file. What distinguishes podcasts from other audio or video media is that the content is accessible to its audience(s) whenever, wherever, and however they want.
What are the business applications of Podcasting?
The podcast is a real advantage for business travelers and salespeople who are constantly on the go. Since they are frequently in transit they can learn about what a company is offering while they travel. They’re able to stay in the loop about changes that are occurring in the industry or a particular company while on the way to their next meeting.
Whenever a business wants to change its marketing emphasis, their podcast will change with them. Podcasts enable potential customers to find out more about a particular company and its range of products and service without feeling pressured by a salesperson. Rather, a friendly voice explaining what makes the company unique will better serve to convert a potential client into a customer.
Podcasts also save on manpower. An extensive sales force is typically required to detail a company’s newest offers and innovations. With a podcast, visitors click in and are directed to any new information the company wants to present.
The other really great thing about podcasts is that they have an incredibly wide reach. Clients from across the world can access information on companies or products and learn about them in a simple, direct manner at any time, and without having to be tied to a computer.
Especially important is the utilization of pod cast directories which list podcast shows along with the links to their original websites. These directories publicize the available podcasts. Among the more popular of the podcast directories are Yahoo Podcasts, Odeo, Podcast Alley and Podcasting News. When using directories it’s important to select genre and content categories that make it easier for listeners to find your podcast. Once you are listed with a directory, you will begin to get visitors from these directories to your website.
In order to encourage visitors to listen your podcast you’ll need to start by creating an enticing title that tells them just enough about your product to intrigue them.
More important than having a great title though is having even better content. An outline for your podcast will enable you to be sure you don’t lose your audience, and cover all the points you want to hit. How long your podcast will be is directly related to how much news you have to share and the extent to which you can keep that news fresh and exciting. Frequency of updates is also an important issue to address. This will likely depend on the nature of what you’re discussing and how quickly things change in that industry.
So to sum up: Podcasts are basically like online radio shows that can be downloaded, or subscribed to. When used effectively they can be a powerful marketing tool for any sort of business.