Podcasting is one of the oldest digital content mediums on the internet, but has lately been experiencing a renaissance as programs ranging from TED Talks and Marvel Comics to This American Life’s breakout hit “Serial” have found audiences in the millions.
What exactly is podcasting, and how can an enterprising brand leverage it to enhance an event? Well, in short, a podcast is a series of audio (and sometimes video) episodes of talk radio, serial storytelling or journalistic endeavor. A subscriber downloads episodes to their computer or mobile device automatically when the channel uploads a new installment of the series and then listens to them on-demand at their convenience. They are usually done either for free, or with a sponsorship model, with brands like Squarespace, Audible.com, Sleep Number Beds and others making investments in the bigger shows.
For experiential marketers, the magic lies in the live podcast. Frequently, the most popular interview shows will stage live episodes at large conventions and other events, and invite an audience to take part in the show. These could take the form of a keynote presentation, recorded then broadcasted, or a panel discussion about a key industry issue. Even a simple tutorial on new products or services can be interesting live, if the audience has good questions and comments to make.
How best to proceed with a first-time podcast? Here are the top five things you need to know.
1. Listen to podcasts and find one to sponsor.
Download some episodes that you think might be interesting or fun and listen for a bit. When you find a show that really speaks to who your brand is (or wants to be), get in touch and see what kind of sponsorship deal you can work out. Ask and see if they’ll let you help with content or offer a guest from your c-suite or tech division. And brace yourself because they might not. But get some skin in the game and you’ll have some friendly ears when you move to step two.
2. Start a podcast.
You need almost nothing beyond an idea and an interest or expertise. (Oh, and a microphone, pop filter, laptop, simple soundboard and some basic editing software.) Pick a topic that speaks to what your brand does really well and how you can be of service to listeners, then find the person in your company who is the most knowledgeable and personable and put them in front of a microphone once a week for 45 minutes to an hour. Ideally, make it two or three people—a conversation is more interesting than a monologue. Script the episodes very lightly (unless you’re making a narrative serial story podcast, of course), but make sure everyone knows generally what to talk about and how long to spend on it.
3. Promote it everywhere.
You’ll be uploading your podcast to iTunes, Libsyn or Audacity (or any of the many other hosting sites), so make sure you are driving people to listen and subscribe through your other social channels and even traditional media. Go ahead and use that relationship you built with your sponsorship from step one and pay for some promotion, too. The podcast world is a small one still and those who give are most likely to receive.
4. Go live.
Once you’ve built an audience and they’re listening in, look at your metrics and find your most dedicated regions (where you’re most popular) and go there for a live cast. Book a cool space in an easy to find area. It doesn’t have to be a theater with a stage, or a recording studio, either. Just make sure there’s room for your audience to be comfortable. Then turn on the mics, open up the show and begin. Make sure you invite the live audience to participate, whether through Q&A or improvisational outbursts. Then post it without editing content, except for length.
5. Don’t stop there.
You have a viable content channel now, so use it as such. And don’t limit yourself to audio either. You’ve spent a lot of effort and time (and a little money) making your host(s) mini-internet stars, so go ahead and tap your new resource. Put them on the road, let them meet your consumers and start video channels on YouTube to complement the podcast series. Go nuts. The podcasting world is wide open. Let’s see what you can do.
In this monthly series, EM brings you tips and tricks from pros and experts who eat social media marketing for breakfast. So eat up, and check us out on Twitter @eventmarketer and Facebook.com/eventmarketer for more.