I recently interviewed Gil Oved (The Co-CEO of The Creative Council) and Romeo Kumalo (the former CEO of Vodacom).
Just before we hit the record button I was talking to Romeo about podcasting. We discussed how the radio experience is generally depressing and started talking about podcasting. While Romeo has heard of the terms “podcasting” he didn’t know much more about it or how to access a podcast from his phone.
After building the Matt Brown Show into a global media platform, I’ve experienced this same story on numerous occasions. However, every time I’ve switched someone onto the world of podcasts they never look back and very rarely, if ever, listen to the radio once they have tried listening to a podcast.
What in The World Is a Podcast?
In 2004 Guardian newspaper writer Ben Hammersley, suggested possible names for the booming new medium, the “pod” of podcast is borrowed from Apple’s “iPod” digital media player; and the “cast” portion of podcast is taken from Radio’s “broadcast” term. Just because it’s named after Apple’s iPod, does not necessarily mean that you must own or use an iPod — or any portable digital media player for that matter — to enjoy a podcast.
Okay, so that explains the name, but what is a podcast exactly?
Do you remember the days of the Sony Walkman? If you don’t, then that’s okay because you’ll be able to relate through this short bit of history. For the first time, the Walkman enabled you to take your music with you wherever you went. Simply push play and off you went listening to your music, most likely Billy Joel’s album 52nd street – the best-selling album of 1979.
A podcast is the same as Billy Joel’s album, but with two major differences. The first difference is that you won’t use a Walkman, but instead you’ll use your smartphone. If you have an iPhone, then you already have a podcasts app pre-installed with it. Simply search for “podcast” and you’ll see this purple icon.
If you’re using an android phone go to the Google Play store and search for “podcast” and you’ll be shown several different podcast players (my personal favorites are Stitcher and Player.fm). Install any of these apps and you can join the school of cool.
The second difference is that when you listen to a podcast, you won’t hear Billy Joel’s music, but what you will hear is people talking. What are they talking about? Just about everything you can possibly think of. If you’re into Egyptian hieroglyphics there’s a show for that. If you’re into how to write a porno there’s a show for that, and if you’re into how to build small houses with matchsticks there even a show for that. There really is a show for everyone.
The point is that the world is moving towards “on demand” content and away from broadcast content like radio and traditional TV. DSTV is an on-demand content service. You can record and play shows that you like on your terms, and not when a radio station decides to air something.
Who Is Podcasting?
Podcasting has seen a surge of interest from brands and media companies over the past year. Just this year, Buzz Feed, Esquire, Vogue, InterContinental Hotels, General Electric, Tequila Avión, HBO and State Farm Insurance have started their own podcasts – even Alanis Morissette now has her own podcast.
Podcasts are booming, and it’s paying off for brands like General Electric. Their first podcast called “The Message” was downloaded over 500,000 per episode on average.
Why Most South African Brands Aren’t Podcasting — Yet
Despite the growing audience, why aren’t more brands producing their own shows? After all, brands were relatively quick to use other online publishing channels such as blogs, social media, and long form interactive stories. Podcasts have been around since the early 2000s, yet most brands don’t have a podcast. It’s nonsensical to say the least, but the simple answer is that high-quality podcasts are very difficult to pull off.
I’ve learnt this first hand from building the Matt Brown Show. Producing a successful show takes an incredible amount of work and dedicated resources and most businesses do not have the time to do that. This is the main reason why I started Matt Brown Media – a company that helps businesses with new ways to tell their story to their target audience, using a podcast.
The Benefits of Podcasting
Most brands refuse to accept the inevitable. No-one wants to hear a 30 second commercial anymore, but there is a large audience who is interested in a podcast about how a business creates value and can potentially solve a problem for them.
A podcast is a simple, yet highly effective way to convey an experience of a business, its products and services. Microsoft is doing just that, where they used a podcast to drum up excitement for the next Halo release. Microsoft created a narrative based podcast called “The Hunt” based in the Halo universe.
It ended up being a hit, and to give you an idea as to how much of an impact it made, listeners were upset that the storyline in the podcast didn’t connect with the actual game. Microsoft released two seasons so far and it’s safe to say there will be a season 3.
But, perhaps the biggest aspect of what makes a podcast truly unique, is that it can immediately deliver itself to multiple smartphone apps on any number of devices at the same time.
Listeners can easily “subscribe” to podcasts (most are free) by clicking on a subscription button. So, when a podcaster releases a new episode, subscribers are automatically notified without having to constantly check back with the podcast’s website to see if a new show has been produced. You produce it once, and thousands of listeners are notified simultaneously.
And, once someone subscribes, episodes of their favourite podcasts can be automatically downloaded — all without having to lift a finger. So, in this way, podcasts are like magazine subscriptions that are always with you, wherever you go.
The other thing that’s great about a podcast, is that it can easily be embedded in any website (you’ll note that my show is available on my website here ) and any podcast can easily be shared on social media. There is no place a podcast cannot go. It’s powerful stuff.
Everything Else You Need to Know About Podcasting
There are over 1.5-billion apple, subscriptions of podcasts on iTunes. That’s approximately a quarter of the planet earth.
To quote Jonah Weiner: “Podcasts embody what is arguably the essential promise of the Internet: a means for surprising, revealing, and above all ennobling encounters with people, things, and ideas we didn’t know. Listen to enough podcasts and you may come to feel that they are not merely of the Internet, but improved, microcosmic versions of it.”
Podcasts occupy a sophisticated position within what we might call the feel-good Web — that battles the cruelty and nastiness that overflows from YouTube comments and other debacles we find on social media.
If your brand or business has been ignoring the podcast industry because it seemed too niche, it is time to reconsider — even if it’s just to explore the types of shows out there. Every business needs to own a unique space in the market, but to get the attention of your target customer is becoming increasingly difficult. Podcasting enables you to capture that attention in new ways. It’s how I built Matt Brown Media using the Matt Brown Show.
If you’d like more information on how to create a podcast for your business, please get in touch.