Podcasts are becoming increasingly popular to help market products or services. Simply stated, a podcast consists of digital audio files posted on the Internet – files that can be downloaded by individual consumers who subscribe to the feed in order to listen to selected content. It owes its name to the popularity of Apple’s iPod (portable music player), and its name refers to a specific type of syndicated distribution rather than a style of broadcasting. A podcast is defined as an episodic multimedia broadcast segment (comprising of audio, and possibly video or PDF and/or ePub files) syndicated and tagged so it can be identified and easily found online. It is a bit like having a customized radio station devoted to providing information about your business to prospective and existing customers. But unlike radio, it allows customers to tap into the content on their own timetable. Individuals subscribe to podcasts just like they subscribe to blogs – and today many blogs contain links to audio podcasts.
How to Get Started
To experience a demonstration, visit one of the best-known sites like the iTunes store. Click on the podcasts channel to sample a range of podcasts on a variety of topics. Most are free of charge. Some are downloadable versions of professional radio broadcasters, but many are produced by a small team or even a single person using basic audio recording tools. You either select the ones you want by clicking on them or you can subscribe to someone’s broadcast feed and iTunes will automatically download files, which allows you to click and listen to them on your own schedule.
Make Your Own Podcasts
You don’t need a lot of special equipment – just a good quality microphone and headphones to create your audio segment. You will need access to an RSS feed (RSS stands for Rich Site Summary, also often dubbed Really Simple Syndication) in order to get your podcast distributed. If you use a content-management system like WordPress for your website, you already have access to RSS podcast feeds. If you want to broadcast your own content, add /feed to the end of your domain name to get your very own RSS feed. This is the easiest way to create your own feed. You develop the information – description, key words and title – but WordPress guides you through the process.
Once you’ve created a broadcast segment, publicize its availability to your customers and potential clients for wide-scale exposure. Promote it on your website and in print materials, including ads. You also can organize an email advisory, as well as include it in your e-newsletter.
Benefits of Podcasting
Companies use podcasting to support and strengthen customer relationships. Although it is very much one-sided communication, it can help establish rapport, reinforce a brand image and encourage customer loyalty. It provides a welcome alternative or supplement to written content, and many listeners (depending on how they access the RSS feed) are able to automatically download content to a portable player and then listen to it later at their own convenience. Through their use of video content suppliers like Netflix, consumers are increasingly becoming accustomed to accessing material on demand, and podcasting fits right into this trend.