There are business ones, fitness ones, self-help ones, comedy ones… and then there’s Serial. But just what is a podcast?
Podcasts, the sonic equivalent of a Flat White, have been creeping into our periphery for a few years now and are the next big trend for businesses and well, anyone who’s anyone.
Feeling confused by ‘streaming’ or ‘new and noteworthy’? We don’t blame you. Podcasting was new to us once too.
To help you out, we decided to ask the questions you’ve been too scared to utter, to help fast-track you on your journey into a new dimension of audio. Whether you want to create a podcast for your business or are looking to start listening for pleasure, we want to help you take that next step.
What is a Podcast?
A podcast is a pre-recorded audio show, available online or through apps for streaming (playing through your data) or download on your computer, phone or other portable device. Think of any topic; culture, finances, arts, business, sport, politics, education, science. It’s guaranteed there will be a podcast out there for you.
Who makes them?
They come in so many forms now, from radio hosts, industry professionals, bloggers, even you and your mates could make one. With the right equipment it’s that easy to record your own and put it out online.
Are they free?
In a world where everything has a price, you’ll be glad to know that podcasts are nearly always free and available at your disposal. Some more specialised or exclusive pods may come with a small subscription fee, or you may have to pay to download a particular app. But on the whole you can find a way to listen to your favourite show without spending a penny.
How can I find them?
Podcasts are widely available across the internet, but the podcast revolution has given way to many dedicated smartphone apps, giving you, the listener, a huge range of pods at your fingertips. Apps (on both iOS and Android) offer a great platform for widening your repertoire, as you can create playlists, subscribe and discover new shows without getting lost or missing out on things. Here’s a few of the main ones:
It probably won’t surprise you that Apple play a huge role in podcast world, for iPhone/ iPod users, iTunes offers a large selection of podcasts and has dominated podcast consumption since the beginning, even before mobile apps for podcasting; according to data tracking company RawVoice, in 2007, 96.5 percent of listeners played podcasts on Apple desktops.
So while iTunes have a huge library of podcasts, Apple also have their own Podcast app installed in their products that acts as your personal pod source. Android technology uses the same principles for downloading apps to your Android phone too.
A huge library of podcasts, offering suggestions based on your likes, allowing you to browse, create playlists and connect with friends through its clean-cut design.
A neat little app that displays categories in a list format rather than as a carousel with thumbnail images, makes search super easy. Also has a sophisticated filter function.
Clutter-free minimalist design, but still with good search functionality. Includes ‘Voice Boost’ to balance speech volume making the listening experience consistent.
Theme based app that curates channels for the user around subjects or topics like football, US politics, or comedy. Raved about but those who love a niche, use this app to go long form in your chosen speciality.
Once you’ve got to grips with the technology you’re using, it’s time to start looking for something to listen to. Don’t be put off by the enormity of the podcasting pool, it’s super easy to find a show you’ll love through a simple search for politics, health or feminism shows. Searching any of these keywords will bring up a goody bag of titles for you to explore.
But I don’t own a smartphone.
No problem. While podcasts are available through apps that are developed for smartphones, many podcasts are still available through a good old fashioned google search on a PC which will take you to their website. Spotify, which is primarily a music streaming site, is also good for this as you can download the programme to your PC, no strings attached.
Ok, I get it. But why should I listen to a podcast?
Can you think of one thing that interests you and you want to know more about it? Or maybe something that you’ve never explored because you haven’t had a chance to research it? If you’ve ever had these sorts of thoughts, it’s time for you to join your digital brothers and sisters and tune into a podcast.
Maybe you’re just too busy to regularly listen? Don’t stress. The best thing about podcasts is that they’ll always wait for you. So even if you miss a couple of shows, you can always go back and listen again at your convenience
Rajar says 9% of adults in the UK download podcasts weekly. That’s around 4.7 million people, and that’s just in the UK. The US has not unsurprisingly developed a huge podcast industry over the last few years, 112 million Americans have listened to a podcast, which is up 11 percent from 2016. Overall, 40 percent of Americans age 12 or older have listened to a podcast at some point. And 42 million Americans listen to podcasts weekly, five times more than go to the movies, that’s 15 percent of the US population.
Podcasting is making all types of news, views, heck, even shoes, accessible to the general public at the click of a button.
Why should my business have a podcast?
In the past, businesses could get away with having some sporadic social media, maybe a blog or two. But times have changed, with the simple accessibility of podcasts, people expect regular content that comes to them, to their phones. And often can be consumed whilst multitasking; working, driving or cleaning while listening to their favourite shows on the go.
But aside from creating a business podcast just because it’s the done thing, there are many other benefits to trying your hand at this 21st century challenge.
It forces you to keep up with the developments in technology and software, your business market and competitors, as well as your clients, preparing you for anything the world can throw at you.
Putting yourself out there, giving a face and a voice to your business that people may not always see allows you to build an intimate relationship with your audience. As humans, we love to see that everybody else is just like us and that founders and company directors aren’t unreachable or disconnected from their customers.
Instead they want to engage, to inspire, to share learnings and experiences and of course enjoyable audio content.
It’s true that no one knows your business better than you. No one probably likes to talk about it as much as you either, so you need to be the voice of your business.
Creating a podcast allows you to focus on elements of your expertise or aspects of your business in great detail and bring your listeners into your world. Explore your niche and allow the success stories in the business to stimulate conversation or opinion.
You may decide to interview people who demonstrate success in your field, give tutorials, share opinions or offer guidance. Having regular episodes allows you to go into depth yet still cover everything over a period of time, which will engage your audience and keep them coming back to catch the next installment.
It’s clear that podcasting is a giant, global community available to all ages, genders, classes, literally, anyone can listen to a podcast – and it’s waiting to welcome you with open arms, to reassure, challenge, inspire and educate. So what are you waiting for?
Hook up that mic and hit record.