Podcast listenership is on the rise in the UK, so why is this most portable of formats still largely untapped? Could consumer demand in the wake of the popular S-Town and Serial podcasts provide impetus for more business audio content?
I’ve been podcasting for more than a decade, since experimenting for the format with the blog we ran at Rainier PR (now Speed Communications) around 2006-7. Back then it was a bit of a novelty: broadband wasn’t quite so broad, mp3 players were comparatively basic and mobile phones nowhere near as accommodating.
Fast-forward to now and mobile phones are the device of choice for UK podcast consumers.
Why business podcasts are effective
I’d summarise the business benefits of podcasting as:
- Original content: By podcasting, you create and seed content that no one else has. It’s a totally unique experience
- Personal voice: Being able to hear an organisation speak and give advice adds a real personal, authentic touch, can break down any perception barriers and build trust
- Increase dwell time: If hosting podcast content on your site through a player, you can increase the amount of time people spend on your site. This not only exposes them to more of your messages, but also is good from Google’s point of view when it comes to ranking your site
- New discovery channels: Invested audiences in the iTunes, SoundCloud, and other communities can find your content
- Portability: Podcasts can be consumed anywhere at any time. You can learn French as you drive to work, you can go for a run and learn history. You can’t do that with video or blog content
- Ease of creation: I use a simple clip-on mic to catch interviewees on the go, or record via Skype. So long as the audio is clean and the content is engaging and useful, people will tune in
- Utilise your network: It’s incredible how benevolent and generous people in your network will be with their time.
Kelvin Newman is the founder of the twice-yearly digital marketing conference, BrightonSEO. The conference is affiliated to the Brighton agency Site Visibility, whose Internet Marketing podcast is one of the UK’s most-downloaded business podcasts.
Newman told me: “Having a podcast has played a pivotal role in how we promote our business, it's had direct benefits where people listen to the show and get in touch about our services but also has a huge number of indirect benefits as well. It's led to speaking engagements, people applying for jobs and opportunities to meet and interview absolute legends of marketing. I can draw a direct line from every major business success back to our podcast.”
I have ventured back into podcasting to support my football culture blog Outside Write. I am constantly blown away by the generosity my guests afford me with their time, and I am yet to have anyone reject the opportunity to appear. Being hosted on iTunes opens me up to a whole new audience that’s both curious and hungry for new and interesting content. Traffic and engagement is up.
According to data, the UK is behind the US in podcast consumption but it is increasing in popularity as a medium as blog saturation drives a desire for alternative content formats. Connected cars and TVs also make access to audio material easier, as does access to recording and editing equipment, and the fall in data costs.
Each year we seem to have been promised that this is the year podcasting goes mainstream. Much in the same way every year was predicted to be the ‘year of mobile’. While mobile got there, podcasting has yet to truly go mainstream, but now is a good time to start podcasting as there is more demand than supply just now.
It takes time to find your voice when podcasting, but equipment to create good podcasts is so widely available and publishing so easy that for me there’s no reason a company wouldn’t want to start podcasting in 2017.