Three years ago, podcasting was in its infancy. Former MTV VJ, Adam Curry and blog hero, Dave Winer, had popularized the technology and the concept that made it all possible. There were only a handful of shows in existence at that time and, truth be told, the content and production quality was mostly poor. The only thing smaller than the selection of shows was the minimal audience they were trying to reach.
In June of 2005, Apple unveiled the podcasting directory in iTunes. This was the turning point that opened podcasting listening up to the masses. Overnight iTunes scooped up thousands of shows and gave them an audience. If you were lucky enough to be a “featured” show, it was possible your audience numbered into the tens of thousands.
About this time, companies like CNN, The New York Times, and NPR started to realize the potential reach of this new type of media. They could repurpose their existing content and put it online for very little investment and risk. Some traditional media outlets even started creating content specifically for their podcasts.
Fast- forward to the fall of 2007 and there are thousands upon thousands of podcasts listed in iTunes and hundreds more added each week. Sure, there are still some un-listenable amateur shows produced in basements, but there is also a ton of professionally produced content that is well worth checking out – many of which promotes online businesses.
I believe the time has come for any business with a presence online to have a podcast that they produce at least monthly, if not weekly. I know what you’re thinking ‘my business wouldn’t be a good fit for a weekly podcast.’ Nonsense. What would you say if I told you there is a video podcast about kitchen blenders? You’d probably assume that it is a repurposed infomercial encoded and shoved into an rss feed. Nope.
Go to www.willitblend.com and check out the offerings. The company, BlendTec, has created a series of videos to show the power and durability of their blenders. However, instead of blending traditional things like ice and smoothies, they tackle items like hockey pucks, golf balls, and glow sticks. They also try blending the latest tech gadgets such as iPods and iPhones. Admit it, you want to head over to their website now just to see what blended glow sticks look like, right? – I know I did.
We are dealing with a new generation of online consumers that don’t like traditional advertising. They don’t want to be spoon-fed a press release or a doctored marketing message. They want content. They want to be entertained on their schedule. Podcasting, both video and audio, achieves that. BlendTec found an ingenious way to get their marketing message out about their blenders, but also found a commercial that the YouTube generation will not only watch, but will also pass around to their friends on MySpace and Facebook and will submit to Digg.
If you have a presence for your business online, or you work with online businesses, you should be producing a podcast. The tricky part is to figure out a way create content in a way that promotes your business or product without making it feel artificial. If you do it right, people will remember your name.
I bet if you surveyed 100 Digg users and asked them to name their favorite blender, many would say “BlendTec.” If a company selling blenders can build their brand in the social networking space, so can you.
If I’ve sold you on the idea of podcasting, you’re probably going to need some help getting started with the nuts and bolts of how it all works. Sites like PodcastPickle.com and PodcastAlley.com are great communities where people trade ideas and production tips. Podcast411.com is run by podcast consultant, Rob Walch, and it contains great tutorials and interviews with other podcasters to give you an idea of what they’re doing. These sites will give you a good jumping off point to get your hands around this exciting interactive medium.