On September 4th, I was interviewed by RadioInk Magazine and contributed my thoughts on how radio broadcasters can become better podcasters. If you are interested in reading the article in full you can click here.
As I reviewed the article, I realized the advice that I was giving to radio broadcasters applies to just about anyone who has a podcast or is starting a podcast.
The content below will have a little bit of inside baseball lingo, but it doesn't detract to the overall idea of creating a successful podcast. In fact, radio broadcasters are content creators just like anyone else. The only difference is that they have access to better equipment and more ability to create valuable content.
Please take this into account when you're reading this Q & A and enjoy!
Shannon: First, I’m going to exclude public radio from this section because they are the ones who are the masters of developing quality programs that pack a punch. They do it the best and everyone should be learning from them in some way. So when you hear me talk about radio, I’m not including public radio in this generalization.
As a whole, traditional radio is in the top of the sixth inning with podcasting, leading 15-2. Radio is playing against a team that has outworked them when it comes to listening and taking action on what the market desires — which is more original content and not rehashes of morning show replays that lack actual engagement within the podcast.
Podcasting is winning in the “I wish” category. In other words, it’s the conversation in every major city:
“I wish there was a podcast that talked about_______.”
It’s these people who fill a hole in the niche and take action to search for the audiences that might be interested. These days, podcast content is being shared to relevant Facebook Groups.
If you didn’t know, Facebook Groups are the hottest thing right now when it comes to niche marketing, and the majority of radio has ignored it all together. As a result of these groups, podcasters get targeted listeners who are willing to listen and share podcasts.
If radio is trying to stay relevant in podcasting, their market research should consider the comments section of their very own Facebook pages, if they are making it a point to actively market on Facebook. Ideally, radio should already have Facebook Group communities that are connected to their Facebook page to work around the dreaded Facebook page algorithm that gives them very little reach.
If radio stations took action by creating groups to their Facebook pages, they could nurture the fans, develop a deeper relationship and have a mutual trust. This trust helps garner downloads, shares, and raving reviews.
I don’t think radio respects podcasting, its online ecosystem, and how it actually works. Radio’s corporate ego gets in the way of seeing success with podcasting because they are playing by radio rules in an online format. The standards for creating a successful podcast are drastically different than what radio sees as success. In order to play in the podcasting sandbox, respect must be given.
Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean you can’t use techniques from the radio world, but radio should study the podcasting platform to know when they can employ strategies and techniques from traditional broadcasting.
One thing public radio has done well is that they have understood these unwritten rules and created VALUABLE and engaging content that works well with these rules. Their programming is not sponsor-heavy, yet their calls-to-action are concise and clear, along with the follow-up content they publish on their websites:
“If you enjoyed today’s program, see pictures and documents of today’s story on our website at ___________. And while you’re there, consider making a donation/contribution. Programs like this don’t exist without your support.”
But we have to remember, public radio promotes the content first and the monetary contributions second. The content is where the true value is for the podcast because public radio realizes the more value they give, the more value they will get back.
Public radio has an incredible grasp on how to navigate on the radio and online because they study online algorithms and best practices. Everyone else in radio should be following how public radio is crushing it in the podcasting game.
1) High-Quality Audio Output
This should be a no-brainer, but radio stations have 100% access to the best equipment in the world and it’s no doubt that their audio can come off sounding professional. Even though there are services out there that provide the ability to record podcasts via smartphone, radio is using the equipment they already have sitting in their stations. It’s a no-brainer.
2) Leveraging connections
Programming and promotions directors have a direct line to music management/labels and PR companies. This gives radio the advantage when looking to invite guests who can provide value to a podcast. Where traditional radio is only giving 10-15 minutes (at most) to a guest, an elaborate interview on a podcast can leverage interest on and off the radio. I’m sure some radio stations already do this.
3) Ability to conduct interviews
One thing radio does really well is harvest talent that can steer the wheel and drive a conversation in the direction that it needs to be taken. On-air talent have a natural inclination to ask questions on the fly based on answers that are given to them in real time. On-air talents are a curious breed, so they dig deep. Amateur podcasters struggle with this ability and it’s something that has to be learned over many years in order to be great at it. Radio will never have this problem.
1) Focus on a niche instead of broad topics
Radio stations can create any type of podcast they want. If they are trying to eat their own dog food by tapping into their built-in market, the broad topics will probably work within the market. For example, a station podcast could be an extension of the morning show content for 40 additional minutes, once a week. The format could be a recap of the week or something that doesn’t have a place in the normal morning show format. The format should be casual, free-form, and uncensored. Podcast listeners LOVE these types of programs because it deepens the relationship with the morning program and the station.
However, the best type of podcast that radio stations can create are the ones that are based in a niche and focus on that niche exclusively. The most successful podcasts that I have seen are the ones that focus on a specific niche. These niches share interviews and content that contain universal truths instead of glossing over the topic in 10 minutes.
In fact, niche podcasts are more about solving problems for the listener more than they are about entertaining.
Don’t get me wrong, you can educate and entertain at the same time, but podcasts that solve a problem can build a hyper-focused audience that has the potential to buy. I’ll expand more on this in a following question.
Podcasting requires the creator know how to edit the podcast, but they must know how to upload it and provide the appropriate metadata so that search engines can find it. Unfortunately, this is where most podcasts fall flat on their face when they realize how much work goes into it. This realization impacts program regularity and consistency.
The art of podcasting requires that you know a lot more about uploading content into a hosting provider and learning more about how your podcast can be marketed through social and organic search channels like Google and Facebook.
Because this process is somewhat cumbersome, the results are erratic episode release days or the program just fades away. Podcast release days and times are essential so listeners don’t get confused on which day they can download the next episode.
Radio people should know this all too well because we base day-part segments around building habits and behaviors — especially when it comes to something like appointment listening.
Podcasting shares a common sentiment but on a broader scale. Instead of listening at a particular time, the concept of “release days” are more prolific within the space. Even if the content is all “on-demand” people know exactly when a podcast should drop and make it a point to have those podcasts ready to download so listeners can consume it throughout their day or week.
When I used to listen to the Social Media Marketing Podcast with Michael Stelzner, I would fall behind on episodes, but I knew that every Thursday his podcast would drop. That meant I had to catch up on previous episodes to avoid falling behind.
Consistency is everything because behavior is consistency.
3) Search Engine Optimization For More Podcast Downloads
One thing that I have noticed about podcasting is that when you release a program daily into Apple Podcasts or other syndication platforms, the algorithm on those platforms have the potential to favor your program and make it show it up as a recommended program.
Of course, there are other factors that play into the visibility such as meta tagging and promotion, but the regularity of a podcast can have a significant impact on how your podcast gets recommended on these platforms.
If you have the time to pump out daily podcasts and drive the traffic to them, then I’d say you’re well on your way to having a podcast that might generate interest if the topic provides enough value.
But if you’re a radio podcaster only doing one podcast a week without any on-air promotion, I recommend you invest in Search Engine Optimization.
SEO is what drives us to do searches on Google and YouTube to find our answers. Likely you have done the same thing when it came to a home improvement project. Where did you go? Google or YouTube?
And did you find your answer? Likely.
What you may have discovered is that answers are either found on blogs or on YouTube videos. Your answer is the result of the text that is being searched anytime you put a query inside of Google or YouTube.
As a podcaster, what I would recommend doing is transcribing all of your podcasts into text and placing them on your radio station’s blog each time you drop a new episode.
This is probably one of the easiest ways to get consistent traffic to your radio station’s website without having to constantly push a podcast over the airwaves. Instead, you let Google do all of the work for you based on how many keyword searches are being done inside of Google.
I still believe that Program Directors should allow some type of podcast promo run at least once through each day part to generate downloads. Downloads are everything in podcasting because it’s all based on algorithmic behavior online.
As a podcaster I would focus on the following areas to get more organic traffic to your podcast:
– Title your podcast something your ideal audience would search inside of Google. If you have trouble figuring this out, go to Google and type in the keyword phrase about your podcast topic and see what Google will auto-complete for you. This is a great way to get a gauge on how to title your podcast. Use those specific keyword phrases in your title to generate relevancy with Google.
– Transcribe your podcast from audio into text and paste it into a blog post on your radio station’s website. On a basic level, SEO is about keyword density and it’s likely that you will mention certain keywords in your natural conversation over and over. When you have a blog post that is dense with words, it makes it easier for Google to recommend your site on the search results page.
– Embed a podcast player ABOVE your transcription so that people can actually listen and potentially subscribe on the platform of their choice.
In the Spring of 2018 I made a visit to GoDaddy’s office in Scottsdale, Arizona, and an SEO specialist asked me why podcasters aren’t utilizing transcriptions for their podcast. He mentioned how he started a podcast, transcribed it, and saw the results of how people were visiting his site and subscribing to his podcast.
I told him that it was probably because podcasters didn’t have the time to sit and write out their words or they didn’t have the money to have someone do it.
If you didn’t know, there are actual services online to have your recordings transcribed as low as $1.00 per minute. The transcriptions they get in return are typed by an actual human and are about 97% accurate.
But now that voice technology is improving, these services are offering automated transcriptions for as low as .10 cents a minute. If you recorded a 60-minute podcast, you’d only spend $6.00. That amount of money is a drop in the bucket for the massive amounts of traffic your blog post will get if you embed the transcriptions on your blog.
The only caution I have with automated services is that the accuracy isn’t as good, but it saves a lot of time.
At this point, the only thing the podcaster would have to do is optimize for aesthetics.
And while I’m on the topic of aesthetics, I know someone out there is thinking, “Who is going to sit down and read a blog post that is 7000 words long?” My answer is that they aren’t. Humans instinctually search for what they are looking for and run.
If someone stumbles across your blog, they probably won’t read more than a few paragraphs. But it’s not about reading anymore than it is how they got to your blog based on a keyword search they did inside of Google. This is what leads them to your blog and, potentially, your podcast.
It’s easier to multitask and listen to a podcast instead of being chained to a seat to read a blog. A couple of resources you can use to transcribe your podcast are:
Rev – www.rev.com (manual and automated transcriptions)
Temi – www.temi.com (automated only)
4) Splinter Marketing
The concept of Splinter Marketing isn’t my idea. If you have ever seen or followed the famous entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk, he is the one that has coined the idea of splintering. In fact, it’s his concept of “Pillar Content” that makes content marketing so valuable.
Here’s the basic gist of “Pillar Content” in podcasting terms:
When you record your podcast and release it, that is considered your BIG piece of content always available for consumption. Gary Vee wouldn’t stop at just dropping the podcast. Instead, he will go back and comb through the podcast content and pick sections of the podcast that have incredible value. He would then take those sections and use them like a morning show promo, but for the Internet.
Then he would use something like http://www.headliner.app to create something called an “audiogram.”
Audiograms are a :60 piece of audio content accompanied by a still image along with moving wave lines to indicate there is audio contained within the image. Audiograms encourage people to click on the image so they can hear what the audio contains.
From there, you would take this audiogram and promote it on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook over the course of one week before you drop another piece of “Pillar” content (your podcast).
But you don’t have to stop there. Think of all of the quotes that are being said in your podcast that deliver a ton of value. Those quotes can be turned into images that people can share out onto their Instagram, Pinterest, or Facebook.
This process of creating splintered content only helps improve the marketing of your podcast. Further, your station should be giving in-house podcasts some type of promotion to help boost the download numbers for the podcast.
If one of these pieces of splintered content gets shared out, it has the potential to be re-shared over and over. The result will more visibility to discover your website or podcast. To learn more about splintering content, I recommend you read Gary’s book, Crushing It, as it delivers a ton of value in terms of content marketing.
- End of Q & A -
One thing I wanted to publish in this article was a link to Gary Vaynerchuk's template for splintering content. You can find that article and template here.
I hope you enjoyed this Q&A and reach out if you have any questions regarding your content creation.
Whether you're feeling inspired to make a podcast like mine or you're just trying to figure out where to start, my FREE PDF GUIDE will show you where to get started in under 15 minutes.
Shannon will share his 18 years of radio broadcasting knowledge and show you how strategies in radio relate directly to podcast creation and strategy!