Like radio, podcasting is very intimate — listeners take their phones everywhere with them when listening. People are multitasking while listening to be entertained, educated, and connect with other humans. During the pandemic, there was a sharp rise in podcast listening and creation. It was the medium that connected all of us when we had to be apart. Although a lot of numbers are from the U.S., Canada has seen a slight increase, but with highly engaged listeners.
Businesses can capitalize on this — we are seeing more CEOs be guests on podcasts, not only to “be the face” of their brand, but to create that human connection to a brand.
The Benefits of Podcasting
The main benefit is that you get to showcase who you truly are without the fuss of video (podcasts are traditionally audio-only like radio) or being distracted or focusing on “being live” on social media. Listeners get to connect intimately with you with your voice where there are no misconceptions about what you mean and having to find the “right words” to write a blog or social media caption. There are too many times we are searching for the right emoji to express what our words mean, when on a podcast, you can just say them and get your point across!
Podcasts can also be internal. We are seeing podcasts being used instead of the monthly or weekly company-wide staff meetings. With an internal podcast, staff can listen on their own time to fit into their workday especially since many workers are now remote or even in different timezones (many tech companies in town are like this). And this “staff meeting” can be more entertaining; have production value; keep your staff listening and wanting more; inform and entertain the team.
A benefit of having your own show is that you call the shots, no algorithms to contend with because it’s not social media.
We are also seeing that it can be better than traditional media in terms of views/listens. Whether you have an existing following or not, you can build a community. Podcasts are not just for younger listeners — the pandemic has changed listening habits, but has really grown the listener base as well. You can be very local or global as well because podcasts are distributed all over the world.
The Commitment: What Does it Take?
I call it an investment; time and money. To really see how your podcast translates into sales, increased visibility, revenue, I would say you need to be podcasting for at least a year. Have six-months to a year’s worth of content before you can start to really gauge if it’s working for you. In some cases, because of the work that’s involved in producing a professional-sounding show to represent your professional brand, you’ll need a team to help bring it to life. Not only the hosting, recording and editing, but also research, scheduling (especially if there are guests involved), writing, show notes, promotion, graphic design, etc.
Most highly rated shows are usually weekly, but that doesn’t mean weekly is the commitment that will work for you. Consistency is key; if you say you have a monthly show, make sure you show up monthly. If it’s a short series or seasons, let them know. Podcasting may sound like a one-way communication tool, but you are building a community of listeners who continue this conversation through feedback in various forms such as email, on social, word of mouth and even through voice messages.
But that’s only if you wanted to start your own show. You can also leverage the platform by being a guest. With this approach, you are still being seen, easily Google-able, and can share your message. You might not have full control of the content (the host of the show asks the questions and publishes it when they see fit), but you are still heard with minimal effort. Most shows will ask that you promote it after it’s published and that you provide some assets upfront (i.e. your media kit of a photo, bio, talking points). However, the work behind this is to pitch to shows that fit your message, so there is some backend research and work to be done.
How Local Businesses are using Podcasts
Island Thrive — Smart Dolphins came to me at the start of the pandemic because they saw a need to connect with their community. Although the podcast is not directly related to their core business of technology, it helped them stand out from other companies showcasing their brand and commitment to local, which is one of their values. They featured other businesses in their community by having conversations with local leaders on their thoughts, ideas, and emotions surrounding the pandemic.
Circle of Change — Ame-Lia’s podcast is a good representation of a solopreneur using podcasts to boost her visibility and brand. This is more of the typical podcast you see businesses building; where they feature interviews and are published weekly. Ame-Lia uses her podcast to highlight her own work, philosophy, and values to show how or what it’s like to work with her, but also interviews other change-makers to bring a worldly perspective and provide value.
Caregivers Out Loud — Family Caregivers of BC wanted a new way to connect to family caregivers throughout the province (their head office is in Victoria) and although their website is full of valuable information, sometimes it helps to have something on the go, especially with caregivers’ limited time. They created a show that would supplement their already existing educational resources that provided valuable connections to other caregivers in a long-form audio format not tied to video or a formal webinar and outside of their private support groups. The podcast was an extension of their work to support caregivers wherever they are on their caring journey.
The Military Lifestyle — The Esquimalt Military Family Resource Centre (MFRC) wanted to connect to their members who not only live in the community, but to connect with those who are deployed all over the world or those potentially transitioning with a move to Victoria. This very niche podcast created resources for their members which would then be shared time and time again and even across the country with other MFRCs because of the value it brings.
Find more advice on the ins and outs of podcasting with Mary Chan on organizedsound.ca.