In recent years, podcasting has become quite a phenomenon. Who hasn’t heard of iPods or Apple iPods – small portable and trendy media players? Originally intended for users to listen to music even while on the go, podcasting is now used by companies as a marketing tool to communicate with their target audience and grow their businesses. Media, fashion, technology and the consumer markets have especially benefited from podcasting as present day consumers become more tech-savvy.
Podcasting is shortened for iPod and broadcasting. Tech experts refer to it as personal on demand casting. In plain language, podcasting is simply a method of making radio-quality audio files from the Internet available for download through an RSS feed to a computer, iPod, MP3 player or other portable audio devices.
An RSS feed is an XML file format that provides web content or summaries of web content together with links to the full versions of the content and other metadata. Listeners need to subscribe to a podcast only once. They can subscribe to podcast feeds with Yahoo, iTunes or any desktop podcast RSS feed reader software application. Fresh content is then delivered automatically to them as it becomes available without them having to do anything. Listeners can also download and listen to any programming of their choice whenever and wherever they want. With podcasting, listeners have full discretion over what they listen to and when they want to.
Podcasting is just like radio broadcasting with a difference. Broadcasting happens at a set time and place. If a listener wants to avail of the broadcast, he has to be in front of the computer at the exact time. Even if a radio broadcast can be recorded for listening later, it still requires manual work. On the other hand, it is possible to listen to podcasts from diverse sources at a listener’s convenience. Podcasts are available online or from any mobile audio device. Podcasts eliminate time and content constraints. Listeners also have access to the audio archives of the programs they like.
Podcasting’s popularity is simple enough to understand. At length, it is an inexpensive way to receive and discover information and communicate with others. It is, therefore, no surprise that podcasting is becoming a mainstream communication medium for businesses wanting to touch base with potential customers globally.
Business Benefits Gained
Business blogging is an effective marketing tool in creating online visibility, extending brand awareness and reaching out to a larger targeted audience. Adding podcasting to blogging and other marketing channels can bring beneficial impact on any business.
Podcasting is an innovative way to promote business. It is not just text or images on a blog page but listening to someone talking. It is a human voice speaking to listeners. This is definitely a more effective way to gain customers and potential clients’ loyalty.
There are various ways to put podcasts to good use. For one, you can offer your listeners short audio messages just like an e-mail course. It has a much better effect than e-mail messages or newsletters in the box. If you have a podcast, listeners can stream the audio and let it play while doing other tasks.
You can also record seminars live or interesting excerpts as sound files and upload to a blog where listeners who have subscription can listen to the podcast. You can also provide company news and updates thru podcast. You simply create an audio message and post it in your podcast. There are other different ways.
Having a properly executed podcast that delivers honest, timely and relevant content can increase visibility. The whole concept behind blogs and podcasting is to give users information that is difficult to find. Podcast is about credible content that people will want to listen to. Delivering significant content to targeted audience yields high return on investment as compared to any direct marketing campaign.
Coupled with this, search engines will index these podcast feeds. Blog and podcast directories will list them too and targeted audience will subscribe to the podcast feeds. A quality podcast can also be listed in the iTunes podcast directory which boasts of over 40 million listeners.
Businesses are also using podcast to promote their products and services. They publish podcast shows regularly to allow prospective customers to be exposed to their products. This, in turn, will create interest in their product or service and subsequently drive sales and increase brand perception.
Another benefit of podcasting is interviews with guests in your particular niche who the audience can learn from will establish your business as a leader or expert in your industry. Internal communication is another area where podcasting can be of good use. Instead of sending out periodic newsletters, conducting training, business podcasting is a cost-effective method of distributing and sharing information. Company staff can simply download updates to catch up on corporate developments and listen whenever and wherever they want to.
The possibilities for businesses to use podcasting for its benefits are immense. Businesses that create podcasts can have direct communication with a focused audience. Podcasting adds a human voice and a distinct personality that builds listener loyalty.
Podcasting Process Summarized
Realizing the limitless benefits of podcasting, the logical question that comes to mind is how to create and deliver podcast. First, create your audio content. This can be spoken commentary, interviews, presentations and updates. You can use a digital voice recorder with plug-in microphone or the microphone that comes with a computer to record your audio content. Save the audio content in the form of an audio file or MP3 file.
The MP3 file is uploaded or published to a blog from where listeners with subscriptions from that blog can download and listen to the podcast. The MP3 file is referred to as RSS feed. The RSS feed shows up on the blog as a list of descriptions of one or more episodes of the podcast available to the listener.
The description contains the date of publication of the feed, title, brief description of the feed or of the series that the feed is part of, author or presenter. The listener enters the feed URL into a software application called podcatcher.
The podcatcher downloads podcasts (free or paid) and regularly checks for new additional feeds and downloads the new feeds automatically for the listener. This can be downloaded to either a mobile audio device or personal computer depending on the application that the listener is using.
Listeners can then enjoy listening to their podcast of choice any time and any place they want to. As long as you listen to podcasts in your computer only, you can use the audio player like Windows Media Player, RealPlayer that comes bundled with the operating system of your computer. If you want to subscribe to a podcast feed, you have to install a podcatcher software, the most popular of which is iTunes, available as a free download.
Simply put, podcasting is inexpensive, easy to create and convenient. However, it is important to touch base with customers and prospects using various marketing channels. Podcasts should in no way replace newsletters, direct mail campaigns, teleseminars and the like. Podcasting is a complimentary marketing tool that can be added to the marketing mix to maximize business benefits online.
So, start podcasting and leverage this new technology to give your business a marketing edge.