A podcast is a Portable On-Demand (broad)Cast. It is generally an audio file, but can be in video format. The audience download the file, to watch or listen to on their computer, smartphone, tablet or MP3 player. Podcasts generate brand awareness and engagement and build thought leadership, which can result in increased sales and increased web traffic. According to Apple, there are over 550,000 podcasts, which seems like a large number until one considered that there are ten times as many blogs, 80 million Facebook pages, and almost 5 billion videos are watched on YouTube each day. The good news is that about 48 million Americans listen to podcasts on a weekly basis and listeners tend to be a loyal audience who listen regularly and listen to the full episodes. When one looks at specific content categories, the competition for audiences is limited and with some work and promotion, you should be able to build a successful podcast that appeals to the target audience.

Podcasts are a powerful marketing tool. The content is entertaining to those interested in the industry and trends and the content can be reused for blog and articles, on social media and on websites. Podcasts are a great way to connect directly to your audience, who may be customers and influencers, in personal way. Podcasts are convenient for the audience who may listen while walking, commuting, gardening, etc. Almost three-quarters of podcast listeners do so via mobile devices while multitasking. Podcast listeners are loyal and tend to listen to every episode, participate in polls, and are likely to talk up episodes with friends and colleagues and will also connect to the podcast and brand on social media.

The Right Tools for the Job

To create a high-value podcast, it is important to start with the right equipment. A microphone such as one on the iPhone or one from Blue Yeti, a connection medium such as Skype or Zencastr accompanied by ample bandwidth, a way to edit the podcast, and a place to host the podcast such as LibSyn are all that are needed. Editing can be done with software such as Audacity or outsourced to a professional. After the podcast is posted on a hosting site, podcatchers or content aggregators such as iTune will syndicate your podcast via RSS feeds for no charge. The podcast itself should be branded with a title and logo that is consistent with your brand ad is appealing to the audience. Podcasts generally have a host or cohost, guests and segments for podcasts longer than 10 minutes. The podcast should be scripted, even if freeform, meaning that there is a timeline followed. If you know other podcasters, they can help by being a guest, hosting you as a guest on their podcast and offering general advice.

Promote, Promote, Promote

Once you have about five podcasts ready to go, you need to promote the podcasts over several channels. Depending how the podcast was recorded, you can create audio or video snippets to be shared on social media and continue to share several times a week on the various social networks. The podcast website or webpage can display descriptions of the episodes with bios of guests, replete with keywords to improve SEO. Ask your guests to share tweets promoting the podcast and make it easy on them by supplying them with the tweets, posts and images to be shared. After the podcast airs, there can be a link on your website, a link in your email signature, and a blog written about the podcast. If your audience likes the podcast they will also promote via word of mouth.

Video or Not

Podcasts are generally audio-based but you can create video-based podcasts though this really should be considered a different genre. As mentioned above, podcast listeners may be engaging via a mobile device and be doing something else while listening. They prefer that this is a listen-only event and if the audience is interested in video, they will go to a place such as YouTube and not to their podcatcher to find content. Videos also tend to be shorter than podcasts and are useful for promotional, rather than educational content.

Podcasts are a great way to connect with your audience, if the quality is high and the content interesting. Start slowly by being a guest on a podcast and learn from your host. Good luck with your podcast.