(NOTE: please consider the following a critique of an existing podcast – not just criticism. I know some of the people involved and feel comfortable in offering some advice in improving their podcast. I won’t link or show the podcast out of respect for them.)
After watching a few episodes of a company’s first foray into podcasting my excitement turned to disappointment and concern. Sorry – this isn’t a podcast. Nice try though. Can I offer some advice?
Why wasn’t it a podcast? Here’s why (in no particular order):
Frequency – published once a month.
- Not a total blowout but ideally a podcast needs to be published more often to have the most impact on the viewer and to build a subscriber base. Once a week works well for some topics. Daily works for others. Once a month was too long a gap and their target audience could easily lose interest.
Scheduling – whenever.
- Hard to build audience loyalty when the episodes are published without a specific time or date. If your favorite TV show was broadcast infrequently and without a scheduled time or date you’d start watching something else. Same thing applies to podcasts. Your audience looks forward to your show, so you should honor your commitment to them by delivering on a schedule.
Content – lots to point out here.
- The content was pure, raw, unadulterated advertising commercial. Something you would hear on the radio or see in a 30 second TV spot. But in this case it went on for seven minutes. Ouch! Podcasts work well with a marketing and branding focus. You can insert a commercial into the show but don’t make the entire show a commercial.
- Broad subject matter. Too many topics and products presented. Podcasts work well when they are targeted to a niche audience interest. In this case they would have had more impact by having separate podcasts for each topic they presented.
Community building – no opportunity for feedback.
- This podcast doesn’t have a blog or even show notes where viewers could be given a call to action to comment or share information about the products or the company as a whole. ID3 tags – information attached to the video which show up in iTunes – didn’t even list the company website or phone numbers.
- No opportunity to build a community means that the viewer has no motivation to get involved which is what the new media audience thrives on. There were no ties to other online community gathering points. Facebook pages or groups and Twitter messages highlighting marketing and sales messages take advantage of multiple touch points available across the web.
The good news…
It was a professionally produced video so the audio and visuals were okay. The video was used else where in the organization so it’s a good example of re-purposing content thus maximizing the original investment.
The (potential) bad news…
Since I don’t have access to the numbers, subscribers, hits, longevity of subscription, direct connection to customer purchases, and all those other valuable metrics, the following is just speculation based on what I do see.
- There is no next step in the call to action other than ‘come buy our products’. Unless they perform a traditional customer survey via phone or mail, e.g. ‘how did you hear about our products?’, how would they know the outcome of the podcast and how it impacts customer actions?
- Audience position in the sales funnel. Does it generate new customers (leads or prospects) or does it enhance the relationship with existing customers (‘here are other products and services we offer which you may be interested in’)? In the episodes I watched this was unclear.
- Comparison with other sales, marketing and advertising tools. Will this podcast live or die based on it’s own numbers or will its impact be compared with other traditional methods. My fear is that it will fail and as a result this company will stop using new media and social media to market their goods and services. This would deny them a great opportunity to benefit from a new way to reach customers and grow their market share.
This turned out to be more of an essay than a blog post, but I couldn’t resist the opportunity. Check out Seth Godin’s Meatball Sundae for a take on mixing old media (thinking) and new media (thinking) and how it can fail.
What would be my suggestions for this podcast?
- Separate content into niche topics and smaller time segments. Three or four shows a week with each focusing on a specific product lineup. Less advertising and more value added information. Shorter times as well – five minutes max.
- Build and populate a show notes or blog page with links to products featured.
- Facebook anyone? A page or group is cheap – use it! Build a community by encouraging interaction and conversation.
- Use Twitter to announce new shows when they’re published.
- Publish video content on other sites such as YouTube. There are a lot of video hosting sites out there so make use of these multiple touch points.
- Make use of company staff as spokespersons. Professional actors look and sound nice but real people talking about real things carry a lot of clout in social media communities.
There’s more but that’s a good start.
Talk with you later . . .