As a podcaster myself, I’d say MacManus has written a fair assessment of a podcasting landscape that is indeed dominated by the mainstream media rather than by the independent voices with something to say that was envisioned in the audio medium’s early days eight years ago.
Then, podcasting was seen by many as the big challenger to homogenized playlist-driven radio in the US, a means to democratize radio broadcasting and enable anyone with something to say to, well, say it.
Today, for anyone wanting to make a podcast, the barriers to entry are about zero, even more favourable than they were when I started in 2004 (and they were pretty close to zero then). You don’t even need the bare-bones equipment of a laptop and a headset microphone – if you have a smartphone, you can use online services like Audioboo and iPadio. And it’s equally easy now to do a video podcast.
So why hasn’t podcasting broken out from the mainstream and into the mainstream, as it were?
Actually, who’s to really say it hasn’t? Take a look in the iTunes podcast directory, for instance, and you’ll find thousands and thousands of podcasts to choose from including many that are all about business.
With the exception of Leo LaPorte who MacManus holds up as a podcasting success story – with some clear justification – you won’t find any podcasting “rock stars”.
What you will find among the thousands of podcasts today are shows, series, episodes containing content on myriad subjects, any number of which can attract people looking for great content on subjects that interest them, created by people most of us have never heard of but who we will get to know as we listen to them.
Note the key phrase: “great content.” Yes, just like any publication in a saturated landscape, podcasting is much to do with content. As consumers, we are totally spoiled for choice and we will find what we’re looking for to meet our subjective needs.
If you’re thinking of adding to the long tail of content with your own podcast, here are some tips to increase your chances of discovery, being listened to, talked about and riding up that long tail:
- Offer compelling content
- Ask for listeners’ opinions
- Include those opinions in your next show
- Suggest frequent commenters might want to be contributors
- Talk about what listeners say
- Provide a platform for listener comments
- Make it easy for listeners to get hold of your show
- Build community
Focus on your content, your audience and what you’re helping them achieve. There’s room for anyone with something to say that others may find interesting. If you want to be a rock star, though, join a radio station.
Now, please do excuse me as I need to do some final prep for recording episode number 663 of The Hobson and Holtz Report today with my friend and colleague, Shel Holtz.
The long tail is huge…