Learn what your social media specialist should know about podcasting

Last week I posted, “Learn what your social media specialist should know,” and received some response on- and offline. In the post I mentioned a report on podcasting I wrote for a client. Below is a non-client specific synopsis of the report that focuses on four key areas: workflow, programming, strategy and user interface.

Workflow:

There is a misconceptions that podcasts just magically appear in you iTunes podcast menu. Whether you’re producing a podcast a month or a podcast a day, a workflow chart is essential for podcast production.

My workflow looks something like this: audio capture, audio content review, script intro and outro, record intro and outro plus ad sponsor (if none is provided), mix it, save audio file as MP3, uploaded to web hosting server.

If you’re doing podcasts on your own (without the benefit of an IT team) you may have the added responsibility of: writing a XML file (complete with all details that tag your audio podcast which may require a bit of knowledge if writing basic HTML), and publish XML file to web hosting server.

Programming:

On the wild frontier of audio podcasts there are podcasts that listeners subscribe to and then there are podcasts that get lost in the vast obscure expanse of the internet. In spite of the harbingers of the decline of mainstream radio, the best podcast programming follows the same tenets of great radio shows. Your audio gear and your audio capture technique is important, but ultimately the podcasts content is what sells the show. Good content for good listeners.

Strategy:

As much as I love MAC products iTunes isn’t necessarily friendly to serious podcasters. iTunes does not provide any podcast download metrics. Still, iTunes is where most people subscribe to podcasts. Whether it is a necessary evil or not, I’ll let you decide.

The primary way to track audio content is through webstreaming content on your website. Webstreaming audio content provides recordable metrics that assist in establishing ROI and sponsor related data.

An alternate aggregating service for audio podcast is Youtube, which has better metrics to track user data. It also happens to be where the masses go to find video and audio content. Case in point: Ozzy’s new album is available on Youtube (not actual music videos but rather a still image of album art) and I have yet to see an actual music video of the new material.

Just because you have a podcast doesn’t mean anyone will listen to it. Use social media to build a community and share podcast links. It’s perfectly fine to leak/tweet that you’re working on an upcoming podcast featuring (fill in the blank). Promoting your podcast on Facebook and Twitter is a bit tricky because no one wants to be spammed on social media sites. But if you maintain a running conversation with your fans/audience then there’s a bit of anticipation when the podcast is released.

Train your listening audience to expect your podcasts every Thursday at 4 p.m. (or what every time you see fit). The point is to ritualize the experience and present a casual contract with your listeners. Also, a routine scheduled podcast may actually grab the attention of the podcast deities at iTunes and they may actually feature your podcast in the directory.

User interface:

Most users will use iTunes to access your podcast. Make sure you provide the necessary titles, descriptions and other details to help listeners access your podcast.

If not on iTunes, users will find your podcast on your website. If you have a separate podcast page, make sure to promote it on the landing page. A podcast page works best when it provides users quick access. Set up the podcast page like a table of contents. List of podcasts on the podcast page with headline, deck (or brief 10-word description), byline (host, co-host, or featured guest), date and “listen to” feature. Users can listen to the webstreaming content or download the audio podcast.

Hi-fi, lo-fi, and the death of good vibes

I’ve been dubious for years at the proliferation of iPod/MP3 music. I find this article, “The Death of High Fidelity,” delicious. Maybe it’s the former radio guy or just plain audiophile geek in me that screams, “Rawk on!.”

It’s not just new music that’s too loud. Many remastered recordings suffer the same problem as engineers apply compression to bring them into line with modern tastes…. MP3 and other digital-music formats are quickly replacing CDs as the most popular way to listen to music. That means more convenience but worse sound…. MP3s don’t reproduce reverb well, and the lack of high-end detail makes them sound brittle. Without enough low end… “you don’t get the punch anymore. It decreases the punch of the kick drum and how the speaker gets pushed when the guitarist plays a power chord.”

 

Link.

And further (this is great):

Still, “it’s like going to the Louvre and instead of the Mona Lisa there’s a 10-megapixel image of it… I wouldn’t look at a Kandinsky painting with sunglasses on.”

Now, I am not advocating abandoning iPods and other MP3 players.

It is just the fact that art, literature and music have been so diminished in the last couple decades that most people in our culture couldn’t tell quality art, literature or music if it was served them on a silver platter with a cue card reading “applause.”

For my generation, Gen-X, the touchstone song is Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” Robert Levine, writer of the article, illustrates — with graphics — the difference in audio architecture of Nirvana’s anthem and Arctic Monkey’s hit “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor.”

Suddenly I feel old.