To podcast or not to podcast? –
That is a question that every content marketer asks when thinking about introducing new types of content to their strategies.
Blogging has already paved its way to becoming a default form for showing yourself trustworthy and building credibility on the market. It is great for reaching a wider audience and there is a good reason for that.
No, we’re not just talking about the on-site SEO.
According to a HubSpot’s most recent annual report regarding inbound marketing (The State of Inbound 2016), about 60% of marketers say blog creation is their top marketing priority while 29% of consumers say they want to see more blog content in the future.
Here’s another piece of statistics if you’re not fully convinced: marketers who make blogging a priority are 13x more likely to achieve a positive ROI!
We can safely say blogging isn’t going anywhere but the biggest puzzle stays the same: how to create engaging content and provide value to readers? That is one of the major cornerstones of quality content marketing strategies. But what about podcasts?
Podcasts can be more personal as they give you an opportunity to communicate your message through the power of your voice. By cleverly using intonation, you can charm your listeners, make them engage easier, hold their attention longer, and build a firmer connection with them.
Evidently, podcast is at least one step closer to the real-life contact and that’s what makes it precious.
The latest Edison Research report gave some interesting insights about the podcast consumer. There has been a steady growth of the podcast community: in 2013, around 27% of Americans (aged 12+) were active podcast listeners while in 2016, that figure reached around 36%. Casting a glance over the past decade, there is no reason not to believe this trend will continue to grow.
PewResearchCenter interpreted these results as a possible positive outlook for businesses but in a more modest frame – according to the size of the podcast audience. This audience is not small but it is smaller compared to other media. But there is potential (both in an economical sense and for building brand reputation), even though there is still a lack of effective metrics to precisely measure the results of advertisement via podcasting.
Both blogging and podcasting are legit ways for reaching audience. The question is: where should you start and what’s right for you? Let’s put them both on a scale and set the score straight, so you can adapt your strategy for 2017.
Minding the Cognitive Strain (and Just Being Honest): People Are Lazy!
Let’s face it: blogs are great but most of us scroll through to see the amount of text we’re dealing with before we even start reading.
We are more likely to immediately click the “back“ button if the content and post’s structure are not captivating enough. If your readers aren’t that engaged, it can actually damage your SEO: search engines evaluate this behavior as an indicator of poor content value which affects your rankings.
Sumo Data’s research showed an average reader has a tendency to skim through the text and fully reads only around 25% of one post! That hurts, doesn’t it?
However, this doesn’t mean you should give up on blogging – on the contrary! Blogging is one of the best strategies for personal branding. Here are a few things to keep in mind when crafting a post:
- Watch out for the length: a minimum of 500 words is required for good SEO, but top-ranking content on Google is between 1,140 and 1,285 words. However, this doesn’t mean you should fill in the content if it doesn’t serve the purpose. Don’t overwhelm your readers.
- Make your content visually appealing: break the text into paragraphs with headlines, use text formatting to point out key things, incorporate images and infographics to grab reader’s attention.
- Offer value: your readers want to learn something and/or have fun. Consider your target groups and adapt your communication style to theirs. Use your blog wisely so you can position yourself as an expert in your niche.
On the other hand, podcasts require less cognitive strain which is why people find it easier to engage: according to the Bridge Ratings’ data, an average time consumers spend on listening to podcasts equals 33 minutes.
That’s a pretty decent amount of time! Can you imagine investing it on reading a long text? I don’t think so. Podcasts simply make your content more consumable. With just a pair of headphones, listeners can multitask while you reach out to them.
It’s similar to a real-life conversation: it’s just that your listeners offer a delayed reply to what you’ve said via comments.
Podcasts Are about to Skyrocket: Board the Train While You Can!
In 2013, Apple announced that their service, the iTunes, has reached an astonishing number of 1 billion podcast subscribers! Now, that’s tremendously a lot and this number will only continue to grow.
The good thing about podcasts is the fact this trend has just started gaining momentum so there’s not a lot of competition yet. You’re more likely to reach a number one rating as a podcaster than as a blogger due to less competition as well.
If you want a great example of a successful podcast in that sense, look no further than SpawnOn.Me: they’ve specialized as a video game podcast featuring gamers of color. Not only do they bring value to their audience by sharing gaming news, but they also know the importance of initiating an interaction with them and so they invite their listeners to engage in a conversation.
They know that it’s important to speak out about things their subscribers find meaningful, such as the influence of games in the world and the position of people of color – which are significantly deeper topics than the ones we’re used to in the gaming world.
So here are the three things to keep in mind when it comes to content you provide via podcast:
- It has to have value: no one wants to spend their time listening to a gibberish talk, even if it’s passive listening.
- It has to be dynamic: invite your listeners to become a part of your podcast, make them feel appreciated, show their opinion matters, have relevant guests. It should be interactive! Encourage them to leave comments on your web page.
- It has to inform, entertain, and promote: humor is advisable as well as a nice laid-back tone.
- Mind your diction: avoid monotone delivery as it will tire your listeners and be too distracting from the logical core of your story.
- In the end, make sure to present yourself in the best light: people will transfer the quality of your podcast to your business and expertise, the same way readers do through assessing blog posts.
As for the podcast advertising, good news ahead: listeners don’t mind the commercial breaks and they are very effective in means of driving audience to action. There is a strong trust bond established through podcasts so marketers can reach specified demographic groups this way. The audience is generally receptive to this kind of promotion: around 70% of listeners stated they really don’t mind the marketing messages as they’ve learned about various services and products of their interest.
This is a great opportunity to monetize your podcast. Just keep in mind you should give your audience something of value. Promoting goat milk and local car dealerships on a podcast channel that’s focused on business trends might be a bit tacky but you be the judge.
Potential Problems: SEO and Metrics
While optimizing your blog post is not that difficult because you are working with text, podcasts are not of any use for SEO. Most people discover podcasts by browsing through the iTunes store or exploring related podcasts based on previous searches.
Search engines have not yet learned to recognize audio content, so in order to improve SEO of a podcast, type a transcript bellow or attach it to an existing blog post. Use intended phrases that can be indexed by the engines.
Another pitfall when it comes to podcasting is the lack of tracking your results. Audiences are measured through the number of downloads even though it doesn’t say us anything about the number of people who actually listened to the podcast or the effects they make. And so, the division is born in the advertising world: we have the believers who think investing in promotion via podcasts can produce profit and the group of doubting Thomas’s who need more evidence about it. However, players such as Nielsen, Apple, Google, and others are making progress in finding a solution for this analytics problem.
Be that as it may, podcasts are becoming more popular: since the end of 2015, major reputable media announced establishing new podcast teams (The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal) and digital startups are not falling behind (Buzzfeed, Radiotopia).
The Final Showdown: Blog vs Podcast
Both blogs and podcasts provide a good way to raise brand awareness. Blogs are usually preferred, as users can follow instructions clearly and contemplate text in a peaceful manner, at their own pace. In addition, texts are easier to find in the web’s archive for this type of use.
Podcasts are effective for conversational topics and discussions and they are also based on on-demand technology as listeners can enjoy them at any desired time. They can be more intimate than blogging as they convey emotion and bring a completer experience to the consumer.
However, in order to attach the widest number of people to your business or brand, you need to direct them to the written content sooner or later (e.g. bio on your blog) so that they can get to know you and subscribe if they hadn’t already.
Both blogging and podcasting are inexpensive. Domain name and a solid hosting service are wallet-friendly, while for podcasting – you will need:
- A host: you can use your own website or use a hosting service
- An RSS feed: subscribers can automatically get new podcasts via RSS
- A podcasting software: inexpensive and easy to use
Both blogs and podcasts require personal effort, commitment, and mainly time investment. For blogging, obviously, you need excellent writing skills while podcasting demands great delivery.
There are pros and cons of both blogging and podcasting but by gaining a full understanding of the two – you can achieve better results for your business, no matter what your niche is. The truth is – there can’t be a final verdict to what form is better. It’s far more complex than that. Blogs and podcasts are two available tools and it’s up to you to make something out of them.
So, there is no winner! To be at the top of your game, combine the two in a marketing mix and build authority inside your community. Write news and announcements via blogs to attract new traffic and release at least one podcast per week to build trust with consumers. But of course, do both only if you think that your consumers or clients would love to get your content in writing and in audio as well.
In the end, who says you have to choose?