Chris Brogan asked 6 years ago:
But now, think about podcasting. Where is THAT going? If you can guess that one correctly, get back to us all. It’s been a crazy ride so far.
Podcasting is going exactly where it should be going, away from "shiny object of the day, one solution will solve your problems" to useful platform in the right context.
People have been speculating on either the rise of podcasting or its imminent death for the last decade. The reality is, it's just another part of the new media landscape, and one that has silently grown for the last 5 years in the background, as much more noisy and flashy new inventions have come along.
Consider what podcasting is for a moment:
- Audio or video content
- Available streamed on demand or downloadable
- Published regularly
- Subscription-based, usually through an RSS feed or audio player
These features give podcasting unique advantages and disadvantages.
Podcasting is terrific at delivering a lot of information when your audience wants it. For people who prefer to listen or watch instead of read, or who listen at certain times of the day (on a commute or at the gym, for example), podcasting is a perfect way for them to get content they want.
Podcasting is excellent for giving you control over the integrity of your media. When you do a radio show or TV show, there's every chance that your words are going to be excerpted, possibly taken out of context, and mangled beyond recognition. When you produce your own podcast, you have control over the output. You can't, of course, control what other people do with it, but at least it leaves your servers intact.
Podcasting is time and location shifted, which means that for people who live in areas without the latest LTE or 5G networks on their smartphones, podcasting represents one of the best ways to get rich media content reliably.
Podcasting is great at delivering loyalty, because it requires a greater time commitment from users than other forms of new media. As such, typically only the dedicated are tuning in.
Podcasting is NOT a wonderful platform for delivering anything time-sensitive, because you don't know when someone will tune in.
Podcasting is almost impossible to track using conventional analytics, as many sites and services cache the audio, screwing up the numbers. There is every likelihood that your numbers are underreported. There's also no clickstream, since there's no way to track mentions from audio to browser.
Podcasting is a LOT of work. There are many more companies, services, and ideas now to make things more streamlined than there were in its infancy in 2004, but it's still a significant commitment of time and energy.
Podcasting is not a get-rich-quick scheme, any more so than Twitter, blogging, or real estate (we see how well that worked out last decade). This, by the way, is one of the key sources of discontent, as a lot of claims were made early on about podcasting being the way for you to quit your day job and solely be a new media maven.
So what's the future?
We're effectively 10 years into podcasting's life. Based on research by Edison Research and Arbitron, podcasting seems to have reached maturity about 3 years ago, with an effective audience of 32 million Americans:
While that's not Facebook numbers, it's still a decent size, and it's an ideal vehicle to continue reinforcing loyalty of your most dedicated customers and fans.
Should you be podcasting?
If you are willing to make the commitment in time and resources, the answer is still yes. Podcasting is a great way to deliver a lot of content to dedicated parts of your community for the purposes of reinforcing loyalty and strengthening your brand.
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