My husband- an avid NPR listener switched over to podcasts last year. On his Twitter post that I read with great interest, he called one of them “pure podcast glory”. He wanted to drive a little extra to hear Starlee Kine finish her mystery. With Serial, the Mystery Show, Startup, Limetown stories, I do think, it is the revival of the Podcasting industry. We’re in good times. Using podcasts to tell your brand story has never been more easy, but it also just got a lot more nuanced. What can we learn from storytellers and experts before we create a podcasting series talking about our brands? How do we manage quality of brand experiences through another new channel? Here are a few tips before you go all out on the microphone!
What defines a high quality Podcast?
I’m reading Ann Handley’s Everybody Writes currently and I will quote Ann on this one to define the quality of content. I am starting with this because, podcasts are not new or a recent invention. But the renaissance moment is the fact that suddenly they seem to have high level production and fascinating stories. Sure, quality is subjective, which is why it’s important to define it.
[Tweet “Quality Content = Inspiration x Utility x Empathy ~ Ann Handley”]
Keeping this definition of quality in mind, before you start think about the elements of your content and podcast stories. These are good to reflect on especially when you’re editing your stories. Poor quality content is more likely to harm your brand. Do not cut corners. Before you add another tactic and channel reflect on what you’re providing to the listener.
3 Things To Learn From Startup Podcast
Alex Blumberg’s started his company Gimlet media and while that was going on, they ran a podcast in parallel sharing the stories from the time they were setting up. The narrative was smart, humanized with amazing storytelling, so that even before the company was getting established, there was a strong base of listeners waiting to hear the stories. If I had to point out the key learnings from Gimlet’s Startup podcast, I’d say:
1. Document your stories: There is a possibility that your Startup or business may not work- as is the case with multiple new businesses. Writing down things brings in clarity, a sense of purpose and transparency in what you’re trying to build. In addition, Startup podcast’s stories provided utility value to anyone trying to set up a new company.
WATCH: how to interview tips for podcasts from Alex Blumberg
2. Share your stories to build an audience of beta testers: Even before they launched formal shows or even a company name, Gimlet started producing podcasts about setting up their company. This enabled them to have a range of listeners (or beta product testers) to understand what was working before the big release. The strong performance and readership also inspired new investors to place their bets (and money) on the company.
3. Share a humanized narrative: The listeners empathized with a range of issues that the company was facing. The narratives were in first person, shared details transparently and were weaved together like magic. Even if you didn’t care about the company yet, you began caring about the people. A humanized narrative got listeners invested into the brand and stories.
3 Things To Learn From the Mystery Show
I wrote about the Mystery Show earlier on SEM Rush as being supremely original and exciting. There’s a ton of things to learn from Starlee Kine’s storytelling skills. But I will name a few that stand out and can be adopted by any brand creating stories.
1. Collaborate with others: Whether it is your customers, experts in the field, influencers, investors, bloggers – develop stories to involve them into the narrative. Ask them questions. This gives them a sense of ownership and takes the focus away from just you.
2. Listen: Sometimes a little side story really pushes you to create amazing engagement with your community. So while you must stay with your topics and niche, never underestimate the power of a side story that inspires your audience. For instance, sharing a personal weekend story on your Facebook page adds a human element to your brand. You don’t need to overdo it, but it makes your brand relatable.
3. Build a storytelling arch: A digital story on any platform needs to emotionally engage a reader. From fairytales to Freytag’s pyramid, you can use storytelling elements to keep the audience excited. Give them something to look forward to. Reveal the secrets only towards the end. It’s like a movie, you control the narrative!
As, Kempenaar says in Flimspotting, a weekly film podcast,
[Tweet “Podcast like you’re talking to an audience of a million even if it’s really 100”]
How To Make Audio Stories Using Podcasts To Tell Your Brand Story
Step 1- Set Goals
You need to answer and write down the following questions:
a) What do you want to achieve with the podcast? What are your business/ brand goals?
b) What do you plan to share through your podcast?
c) How many podcasts do you plan to produce?
d) Who do you want to attract through your podcasts? What’s your ideal podcast audience?
Step 2: Define an editorial plan
If you plan to have 5 podcasts in a quarter, you need to get everything ready. From the overall storylines, actual production needs, content that you will share on each episode plan everything. Setting up this process also allows you to see if podcasting is for you- because you will notice the requirements in terms of costs of content creation and the time you need to spend on it. It will also help you weave a story between the episodes as you connect the dots and are able to see a big picture.
Step 3: Focus on quality content
After you define your audience and have a buyer profile in mind, you need to do some research into your audience needs. What could your podcast provide? How can you inspire your listeners? Do not convert your podcast into a television ad. That does not engage. A narrative is what makes people connect. This is not to say that you should not have any calls to action, but ensure that these are weaved at the right places within the content and it does not come across as over promotional.
Step 4: Use tools
Quality comes from preparation and having a plan will mean a lot less stress for you. Use tools like:
- A recording room (sound proofing may be needed) and microphones/ audio equipments
- Freesounds (for music, sounds)
- Audacity or Garage band (for sound editing)
- Soundcloud (to upload your podcast)
- Skype (for co-hosting and call recording)
- Express scribe (for transcribing)
- iTunes (submit your podcast)
- Blubrry (stats)
- More tools here
Before actually recording your first podcast, make sure you have a plan in place. Initially, finding the right tools for you may be a trial and error process. But once it’s done, the next one would land down with a lesser pain and perfection. So consider recording a few episodes before you go live with your content.
Step 5: Stick to a schedule- do not bite off more than you can chew!
Once you get a schedule, make sure it is something you can stick to. Your beginners’ momentum won’t last forever. In order to let your episodes stand amongst the A-listers, you need to take care of quality and consistency. Your audience will be more likely to turn in if you can produce content consistently.
Step 5: Promote your podcasts
The key to promoting your podcast is to use a style that intrigues the audience. Authenticity is paramount. Make sure you pull away all the stops to spread the word about your podcast without being overtly salesy. You need to share what it’s about and how it is useful, and that will automatically create inbound effects as opposed to being interruptive for your community. Use SEO optimization when you upload and edit your podcasts (e.g. titles, transcription etc.).
Radio has often been an emotionally engaging medium to share stories. There is something about sound that compels our imagination to work, making us more active participants in the story we are hearing.
In today’s world of intense competition, podcasts are a great way to build a distribution channel for content that is consumed in a personal environment. A podcast adds a personal touch and a human voice to your products and brands allowing for greater trust. But like any other distribution channel, you need to be fully aware of the best practices and the time that effective storytelling will take before you start. This guide is meant for those who’re ready to get their brand visibility up a few notches through a personal medium. Remember, podcasts are high quality channels. Do not make them a mumbo jumbo conversation without a script. Your brands deserve to be seen in special ways!
Stay creative, and if you needed help on storytelling, we’re here to connect with you!
This post was written in collaboration with Enakshi Sharma.
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