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Are podcasts worth the effort?

X

I keep hearing about how podcasts can seriously grow your userbase and engagement with current users but I've been reluctant to try it out because I'd be the one doing it as we don't have a dedicated social media or marketing person currently and won't be able to hire one for at least a year. But I want to grow our userbase by a relatively large amount before we do hire a dedicated person. So I'm thinking a podcast might be the answer. But I'm worried about cost and whether or not it's a useful thing to do with my time. Interested to hear from people that do and don't have podcasts - worth it?


4 Replies

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
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Creative Director, Visual Storyteller, Video Editor, Post Supervisor, Documentarian
Podcasts are free to produce, it's just do you have the time, effort and knowledge to do it? Once you start you have to "feed the hamster wheel of content" which can be daunting. Word of advice is to keep the podcasts simple where you can produce multiple podcasts at once and then release them on a regular schedule. Can find free / cheap apps to create the podcast, then you just need a place to host them.
Stefan Lubinski
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Stefan Lubinski Advisor
Sales Communication Specialist | Digital Marketing Enthusiast | Social Media Evangelist | Training & Consulting
This is SUCH a great question! I am a podcaster and a digital marketer, but I am not quick to recommend podcasts unless you have a clear understanding of the different models and what it takes to pull them off from a resources perspective.

If you are looking to build and monetize an audience (the traditional podcast model) know that you will need time and money. The more time, the less money you will need as you will grow organically if the content is well done. If you are looking to drive audience growth in a short period of time you will need more budget (ads, promos, etc. to drive awareness and downloads).

Another model (reason) for podcasting has little to do with audience growth (or monetizing the audience) instead it is a relationship building tool (sales targeting, etc.). In this model, you are using the podcast as the means by which to connect with someone you would otherwise have little reason or chance to do so.

For example, let's say there are CEOs of companies you want to connect with and hopefully do some business with. Calling them out of the blue to "chat" is not going to happen. But contacting them with a request to be on your podcast and showcase their thought leadership.... that is a whole different ballgame. I have used podcasts to grow my LinkedIn network with high value targets, and I stay in touch.

If you want to use a podcast to showcase your company as the thought leader in your industry you can use a combination of both - inviting executives and authors and speakers to be interviewed gets you the relationships, but you will need to spend some media budget to make sure that your industry actually knows your podcasts exists.

Today you can invest $60 in a (good enough) mic and use the editing software that came with your computer (don't overthink the engineering) and upload to a one-stop podcast platform like BuzzSprout or Podbean for next to no money. Also SoundCloud is doing more and more podcasting (Hubspot just started one on SoundCloud). Start there before you worry about a custom website and separate media host.

The biggest issue you will have with sound quality is your guest. Check out this episode with Ted Coine (a Forbes Top Ten Social Influencer) and you will hear that the audio is good, but sometimes you can hear Ted's mic sliding around.
This was recorded with a $60 ATR-2100 and I used Garage Band to edit and export.http://thegrowthfactor.com/tgf-social-with-ted-coine-a-world-gone-social/

And Walter is right, you have to keep feeding the monster. You need to commit to this. I would say produce one a week for a year - then see what you've got.
Start with a podcast that is 20-30 min in length.

If you have more questions, I would be happy to help :)
Paul Bostwick
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Paul Bostwick Entrepreneur
Researcher and Self-Employed Product Designer
1) Id survey my current customer base and see if they have podcasts in their media diet. If they dont you are off the hook since they will not start listening to podcasts to hear you (at least not in numbers that that make it worthwhile). If you got past #1. 2) If you have content ideas just gushing out of you then Id mark it in the maybe category but other outlets might be better for the same content and could take less effort: like a blog, email newsletter or twitter stream or youtube channel Effort/time being a relative measure as different people have different amounts of time and rate of production. Same thing for the sense of what is a presentable product. Slickness comes at a high cost in time and effort. Proceed with caution. If your audience is already present in the given channel(s) _and_ you have content that will serve them well, then and only then pick the channel(s) you can contribute to most easily. Are you comfy (and do you come across credibly) on camera/mic? then podcasting or a youtube channel might work Same with writing - if you can do it well enough without wasting time and the audience is already up for getting content that way, then get to that instead. As for production of whatever you choose to make: There are a few ways to go but consider ghost writers/producers for help. They are there to buff up your stuff to an acceptable shine with a practiced hand. If the basics you hand off are strong they could be quite affordable - if you are a flake or expect them to do more than make it orderly and consistent then it gets expensive - fast. -Paul
Paul O'Brien
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Paul O'Brien Entrepreneur • Advisor
Tech Economic Development and VC CMO
Important to note that Podcasts are merely a form of content. They have no audience from which to draw; you have to create that audience.

Akin to blogging, think of podcasting as nothing more than content marketing; the podcast is a medium for that content, a medium which finds an audience through social media, podcast apps, iTunes, etc. In the same vein, a blog is merely a medium for content (analogous to white papers, static sites, tumblr, etc.) and that content finds and audience through Google, social media, and so forth.

Podcast is not like having a Radio Show!

A radio show is also just a medium but it's a medium that already had an audience. People already listen to WXYZ 98.3 where you live and having your audio content there means you reach people already listening. You would draw a correlation like podcasting and blogging with radio and print news: print news already has subscribers and an audience.

So... is it worth the effort?
That's a question difficult to answer as it depends.
  1. Are you prepared to promote it?
  2. Are you prepared to maintain the show even when the audience is light?
  3. How does the business benefit from creating audio content and developing an audience for it?
  4. Do your customers listen to podcasts and would they listen to one on this topic?
Don't misinterpret a podcast as a way to "seriously grow your userbase and engagement with current users" as it is no different than blogging. Can it do grow your userbase and increase engagement? Sure, that's done by way of marketing and the fact that an audio cast is another way your existing customers can engage with your brand. Ask yourself first if that's what you want; then consider what it takes to create a podcast that delivers that.

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