Before we get into the nitty-gritty of launching a podcast, ask yourself this: Why do you want to launch a podcast? If the answer to this question is listed below, go back and take a long, hard look at your content marketing strategy.
- We’re launching this podcast because our blog isn’t capturing our customers’ attention.
- We’ve done everything else, so why not launch a podcast?
- Podcasts are really hot right now.
These are terrible reasons to launch a podcast. If your content marketing strategy isn’t producing results, adding a podcast to the mix isn’t going to help. If you’ve already established a solid content marketing strategy and there’s something about your business that can be uniquely captured via a podcast that also just happens to make your customers’ lives better, then please continue reading.
This article will help you learn:
- How to plan podcast content
- What questions to consider when deciding on a hosting platform
- How to integrate the podcast into a content strategy
Quality content is essential to the success of a podcast. If listeners aren’t engaged, you’ll soon find that you’re talking and no one is listening. Great content trumps great production value 100% of the time. Here are some things to keep in mind when planning podcast content.
The style of the podcast will impact the release schedule, production schedule, and featured content. A scripted podcast is going to have a different impact on an audience and be more time consuming to produce than an “off-the-cuff’ format. An off-the-cuff podcast may be less time consuming to put together, but it puts more pressure on the host or co-hosts to keep the content engaging. Ideally you’ll want to allow the host or co-host enough freedom to keep the content relevant and engaging, but provide them with a safety net to ensure the conversation keeps moving forward.
Things to think about:
- How much time is allocated to research/scripting
- The strengths of the host or co-hosts
- Which format better fits the brand image
Consistency is key with any content marketing tactic. Adhering to a strict release schedule will help build a relationship with your target audience. The release schedule should take into consideration your company’s production schedule and the type of content the podcast will feature.
Things to think about:
- How often will the podcast be recorded?
- How long will it take to produce each episode?
- How long does it take to distribute the podcast and generate marketing support?
To get started, select content categories for the podcast. Categories prevent the podcast from going off the rails and ensure the podcast has a specific role in your content marketing strategy. Just like a blog, social platforms, and newsletters, the podcast should have a specific function that enhances the overall content marketing strategy.
Examples of content categories include:
- Interviews with industry professionals
- A behind the scenes look at your organization
- Industry insights from company executives
- Product reviews
When selecting content for the podcast make sure it fits into one of the established categories. Each avenue of the content marketing strategy should have its own purpose that contributes to the overall mission of your marketing strategy. Having a focus for the podcast also makes content generation easier. Too many options is overwhelming!
Small tip: If it isn’t obvious yet: the key to content marketing is finding unique ways to share a company’s story in ways that enrich customers’ lives. A podcast will be no different.
Picking a Platform
I can’t stress enough the need to evaluate a variety of hosting platforms before launching a podcast. At a basic level, you need something to generate an RSS feed. There are plenty of options out there (including hosting it on a company server), but sources like SoundCloud (despite difficult economic circumstances) provide fairly robust analytics, a community that helps market the podcast, and some listener information.
Once there’s an RSS feed, you can submit the podcast to iTunes, Stitcher, or other podcast streaming apps. If you’re using a third-party platform, be aware of how analytics are measured. For example, iTunes doesn’t monitor any usage information. Will the hosting service provide insights into how many people have subscribed to the podcast?
Things to think about:
- Do you have to compile metrics yourself?
- Does the hosting platform measure everything?
- Is there information available on individual listeners/subscribers or just the number of listens of each episode?
- What do you consider success for your podcast? (Yes, you need to set goals – and not just any goals. SMART goals.)
Launching The Podcast
One of the biggest lessons I learned when launching a podcast was to include multiple episodes in the initial release. There isn’t a magic number of episodes, but launching several at once has a number of benefits.
For starters, launching multiple episodes means you can record episodes with no pressure to release them. This gives the host, or co-hosts, a chance to get more comfortable during recording and provides the opportunity to get rid of an episode that might not have gone so well. Plus, if you get a great idea for a new segment, you can go back and add it to the previous episodes prior to release.
Releasing multiple episodes also gives your team a chance to figure out how frequently episodes should be recorded, the amount of time required to edit each episode, and how long it takes to generate marketing support for each episode. Getting the process solidified before the initial release decreases the likelihood that a future release date will be missed.
One of the most important reasons to launch multiple episodes is to generate more attention, which improves rankings. Many sites use ranking information determined by the number of downloads in the first 24 hours. What sounds better to you – One listener downloading the first episode, or one listener downloading the first ten episodes?
Another way to boost initial download numbers is to release a preview episode to an existing audience. This could be a condensed version of the first episode or a segment of exceptionally good content. This helps generate more attention and gets listeners excited to download all of the episodes within the first 24 hours of release.
When planning a podcast release, be sure to make decisions that balance the needs of the company with the needs of the audience.
Supporting The Podcast
When adding a podcast to the content marketing mix, think about how to leverage existing marketing tactics. Consider release emails to a distribution list and a continued segment in your newsletter containing information from the newest or most popular episodes.
An established blog is a great way to add support to the podcast. Services like SoundCloud offer an easy way to embed the content into a website. You can add supporting information (other resources, links, photos, downloads) or transcriptions of the podcast in the post. Hosting episodes on the blog drives traffic to your website. Using an embedded player means the hosting platform counts the plays.
Social media is an invaluable way to promote the podcast. Remember to tailor the message to the platform. Make sure to take into account your audiences’ tolerance for repeat content. On Facebook, they might not be receptive to daily posts driving traffic back to the same URL. You may find that one post accompanying each new release is all they can handle.
A Twitter audience will be more receptive to multiple posts (the shelf life of a Tweet is only 24 minutes), so scheduling multiple posts per week promoting the same episode means a greater likelihood the content will be seen.
Google Analytics will play an essential role in analyzing traffic. Whenever possible, drive traffic to sources you own. That way you’re not relying on a third-party site that might change their algorithms or usage policy. Using a third-party platform to host the podcast doesn’t mean you can’t capture website traffic. Driving traffic to a blog post with an embedded player will help determine where listeners are coming from and what else they may do on the site. Google Analytics also allows you to see which social media sites drive the most traffic directly to your blog and the podcast.
Additional Tactics to Consider
- Adding link to email signatures
- Pulling quotes from the podcast and creating social graphics
- Adding click to Tweet graphics to your blog
Launching a podcast is an exciting endeavor! Success requires you to find the sweet spot between carefully planned content, company personality, and listener needs. When in doubt, measure everything against the goals of your marketing strategy and make sure you’re having fun!
Photo by Kat Shanahan