After speaking at a local event, I was networking with some attendees. One of the attendees approached me, thanked me for my presentation and proceeded to immediately launch into explaining how he wasn't a great writer and he didn't think he was going to be able to “do social media stuff.”
He had effectively written off using social media because he felt he wasn’t a good writer. That's like saying that I'm not going to wear shoes because I can't afford Jimmy Choo's. It just doesn’t make sense. I suggested he might consider creating a podcast, and it was clear he had never considered the idea – and he’s not alone in his thinking.
Podcasts are an excellent way to participate in social media if you have an engaging personality and you’re a better speaker than you are a writer. But, there’s so much focus on blogs that many forget that podcasts are indeed a viable option or, because podcasts involve content in a non-text format, they think podcasts require too much work. Not so. Podcasts afford you the sense of tone and inflection that text-based content never could. It also gives people a two dimensional experience of you, as opposed to the one dimensional experience of text.
If you see a podcast in your future, here are some tips to get you started on the right foot:
1. Don’t be overly chatty. If you have a tendency to be talkative, it’s a good idea to create an outline – not a script – to help keep you focused on the content you need to cover. The ideal length for a podcast is 12-15 minutes.
2. Be relevant. While, it’s perfectly fine to interject a personal note or two into your podcast content, resist the temptation to share stories that might be too personal for your audience… unless, of course, that’s the focus of your show. In short: keep it professional, yet approachable.
3. Bookend voices. There’s a reason that the nightly news is usually one male and one female anchor. Depending upon how engaging you are, it can become a bit monotonous to listen to one person’s voice for 15 minutes. Have someone of the opposite sex introduce your podcast, make general non-content based announcements and the closing. If you don’t have a friend or a colleague to help you out, there is great voice over talent available at very reasonable hourly rates. Remember, you only have to record the intro and the closing once.
4. Add ambiance. Royalty-free music is a great way to add some depth to your podcast. It allows you to set the tone and underscore your brand. Make sure you follow the rules about what you can and cannot do based on the rights that cover the music you select, but by all means add it! Free audio editing tools, like Audacity, make it very easy to layer the music over your podcast audio and produce something your market really wants to hear.
5. Let guests be guests. If you have guests, give them an opportunity to speak and express their opinions. It can be hard with a podcast that’s not pre-recorded, but try not to talk over your guests. It makes it hard for your listeners to hear and if that happens too often, they’ll deem your podcast as confusing and will tune out. Also, keep in mind that guests are guests. It’s nice to interview other people, but remember that your audience wants to hear from you, too, so try not to overload your podcast schedule with too many guests – unless, of course, that’s the intended format of your podcast.
6. Select the right platform. There are many podcast platforms that offer you the opportunity to host your own podcast on their servers. There are pros and cons of each – having it hosted means you don’t have to worry about space, but your listeners might be exposed to the hosting company’s logo or brand when trying to listen to your podcast. That may or may not work for you. If you opt to host your own podcast, you have the burden of finding space for audio files, which are going to have bigger file sizes.
Podcasts are a very viable option for participating in social media. And, because they’re usually published weekly, having a podcast will help you stay consistent in being “on the grid.”
However, if you decide that you don’t want to offer a podcast all the time, mixing up standard text-based blog posts with audio might add just enough variety to keep your market tuned in.