Nearly a quarter of Americans listen to at least an hour of podcasts per week, according to Westwood One’s Podcast Download Fall 2020 Report, which also notes heavy listenership (those who consume six or more hours of podcasts per week) has been increasing since 2017.
Podcasts can be evergreen or in-the-moment, personal and professional, long or short. They thread the needle between engaging storytelling and granular detail. Podcasts are accessible in a way that other forms of content are not.
To produce an engaging podcast that serves your target audiences and conveys your messages, you’ll want to keep a few points in mind.
Find your why
At Branigan, the idea to launch a podcast series for one of our largest B2B clients came as a solution to a problem.
Despite a worldwide network of professionals, the company needed new ways of leveraging the expertise of its engineers, sales pros and product managers. Writing bylines takes time. Videos, whether produced by a company like Branigan or shot in the field, need logistics and planning. Plus, many are not comfortable talking to a camera.
But one thing anyone can do? Something that doesn't take up tons of time? Talking on the phone.
What if we could replicate an everyday conversation between colleagues, mixing off-the-cuff banter and subject-matter expertise? From that idea, the podcast was born.
Podcasts have to make sense for your organization on a fundamental level. Think about the format and how it could work for you. If you’ve been trying to produce content consistently, podcasts are quicker to develop and require less time from your experts.
Hosts are the most
Another major consideration for your podcast is finding a host or hosts. Your guests are crucial to the show’s content, but a host brings the show together by driving the conversation, making guests feel at ease, and setting the tone for the podcast’s personality.
Hosting takes preparation and practice outside of the actual episodes. A host has to embrace the role. Think of the people in your organization who could provide an authentic voice that represents not only the show, but who you are as a company.
Consider the alternatives
Podcasts are distributed across major platforms like Apple and Spotify, then shared on digital channels where anyone with similar interests can find and listen.
Alongside that standard distribution, there are other creative ways to use the audio format.
For example, podcasts can work for corporate and internal communications. This is one of the biggest yet untapped areas of growth for podcasts as a whole. Privately distributed to employees, sales teams or internal stakeholders, podcasts provide transparency in a user-friendly format. They bring a different level of intimacy to organizational updates, executive check-ins or employee Q&As.
Another option: Bring your podcast to major industry trade shows. Chances are most of your company’s key personnel are rarely in the same place at once. Trade shows are one of those places. With minimal, yet quality, equipment and a little space, podcasts capture conversations with experts and create a buzz on the show floor. Plus, the recorded content will live for months after the show is over.
While trade shows are largely on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic, podcasts don’t have to be. Using services such as Zoom, podcasts are recorded and produced remotely, allowing for content development to continue in our new virtual reality for as long as necessary.
There is no universal measurement system for podcasts. Each distribution platform, from Apple and Spotify to hosting services like Transistor, have different ways of defining and measuring success.
Where possible, look for subscribers — the people who receive new episodes in their feeds — total plays and total minutes listened. Track Apple reviews and comments, and monitor your social channels for feedback.
At Branigan, we build custom dashboards compiling data from different sources into one place. We compare metrics where possible, then build performance benchmarks and takeaways.
For now, focus on what you can, keeping in mind episode quality and point of view will correlate to what success means to you.
Keeping it going
Part of a successful podcast starts with a clear purpose. As listenership grows, more people are looking for shows covering specific interests, micro-niches and industries. When someone finds a show that feels like it was created in a lab just for them, they’re much more likely to become subscribers.
Find the lane that aligns with your mission and message. Do the important work of developing stories and ideas that will connect these messages to your audience in an engaging format.
Finding a reason to record is the first step. The process that follows will decide how far your podcast journey goes.