With the ability for mobile devices to easily retrieve larger amounts of data from mobile networks, podcasting is becoming an even more compelling way to reach audiences. In this post I want to give a high-level overview of what podcasting is and reasons why podcasting is a viable option for your enterprise. I think you find that podcasting has some untapped potential for clients and coworkers.
I am continually amazed by the myriad of podcasts that are available devoted to a seemingly endless number of topics. Whatever you do for business or pleasure, you can find a podcast that caters to your specific interests. There is so much available it seems hard to find a place to start. So, let’s start at the start.
We should probably address the word “podcast” before we go any further. In the next few years, we will probably see a trend referring to “podcasts” as “netcasts”, “mobilecasts”, or some variation thereof. But as of now “podcast” seems to be the popular term. Since its inception, the word “podcast” has caused confusion. Most people see “pod” and think to listen to a podcast, they need an iPod or some iOS device. Actually, all you need is a device that can connect to the internet and will play audio files. That describes most mobile devices probably including your own. The device you keep by your side 24 hours a day is primed and ready to be your podcasting workhorse.
Now, let’s put into words what a podcast is. A podcast is audio on the web. There are video podcasts, but since editing video takes more time and effort, the audio podcast, for our purposes, has cornered the market. That may be an oversimplification for those who develop podcasts, but that’s pretty much it. Why is audio on the web compelling? Imagine being able to listen to a radio-like program, hosted by people you respect, on content-specific topics, when you want, wherever you want, as often as you want, and with no commercial interruptions (as of yet). That’s podcasting in a nutshell, but there are additional features that can really increase the value of a podcast. As you listen to a podcast, each time a website or source is mentioned, a link can appear in the window of your player that links you to that website without interrupting the podcast. Also, during instances such as a roundtable discussion, to help eliminate confusion, a podcast can display the name of who is speaking. These are just two of many examples as to why podcasting has become such a powerful medium.
Another appeal to podcasting is the aggregator. An aggregator is an organizer and update for podcasts. Once you find a podcast interesting to you, you have the option to subscribe to that podcast. Using an RSS feed the aggregator will detect when a new episode is available and download it straight to your device, keeping your mobile device full of current episodes, waiting for you to listen to. Some of the most common Podcast aggregators are iTunes, Juice, and iPodder.
So how does podcasting apply to you and your company and your mobile learning needs? With mobile devices, people are finding more opportunities to consume information. Podcasting allows forward-thinking individuals and companies to leverage those opportunities by being innovators in thought leadership. A podcast that is current and fresh establishes you or company as an expert in the market. Your podcast has the potential to become the “first stop” for people wanting specific and up-to-date information. Often, a podcast has an accompanying website where additional information is shared. Related media such as books, articles, websites and videos that are mentioned during the episode can be culled into one convenient spot. Additionally, the website can host a discussion forum where like-minded people can share ideas and opinions or seek help from other peers. Your podcast can become its own social network, connecting people who might have never encountered each other. This has a significant benefit by drawing people to your site and potentially making them clients.
An internal company podcast can help your employees become more insightful and valuable. Aside from acting as an electronic newsletter, a business that podcasts to its employees can give insight to topics that might not be covered in formal training. For example, consider a scenario where an engine manufacturer has a new product launch. In an episode of an intercompany podcast, the lead engineer and developer of the new product are interviewed. During some downtime (say in the car or the daily commute via train, or while working out at the gym), an employee from marketing listens to the podcast and gets insight to the process, inspiration, and design of the engine. The marketing colleague, inspired by these new insights, comes to the table with ideas for a campaign he would have never gotten by reading company literature. Podcasting can open a window to your company that may have remained closed otherwise.
All of these benefits are available in the palm of your hand. Your audience wants new and valuable content. With a $200-$300 investment, you can be equipped to be your own podcast developer and meet their needs. In a future article, I will show what you need to record a podcast and discuss using different show styles to more reach your audience.