17 June 2008 | Tanya Goodin

You can be The Podfather…

A friend of mine who is a total luddite about most forms of social media (despite being firmly in the early-adopter demographic….) introduced me last weekend to the truly brilliant Ricky Gervais podcasts on iTunes. Seriously, if the credit crunch is getting you down download them – they’ll have you laughing for days.

But it got me thinking about the power of podcasts and why they are still relatively under-used by all forms of communicators, corporate, political or otherwise.

There’s been huge press coverage about social networks like Facebook over the last 12 months in the UK and when we think about Web 2.0 social networks still tend to be the example most of us would choose to explain what it’s all about.

But the ability to podcast (or to deliver audio or video files) has been around since the earliest days of the internet. However, it only really took off in late 2004 despite being comparatively inexpensive to produce podcasts compared to developing other social tools such as social network apps. Most businesses have the material readily available from presentations and conferences at the very least but the wealth of material languishes in some internal marketing department.

UK businesses, and political parties, are missing a trick because there were 8.5 million mp3 players sold in the UK alone last year and you only have to walk down the street and see the ubiquitousness of those little white headphones to realise how many people are now listening to them. And, I’d be willing to bet, listening to them for far more hours every day than they are consuming ‘traditional’ forms of media. It’s a captive audience if you get it right.

American political commentators reckon that Obama won the US Democratic nomination largely because of his advanced use of all forms of social media especially podcasts (he even won a Grammy for the audio version of his book). Hilary Clinton on the other hand merely paid lip service (rather like David Cameron in the UK) to engaging in social media without really understanding its power.

Most of our clients would complain at this point that they’re not a ‘sexy’ brand like Nike and podcasts just wouldn’t work for them. Who, for example wants to listen to anyone talking about car insurance for very long? Well, granted, maybe not the ins and outs of signing up for a policy but some branded related content on motoring pitfalls, tips and funnies could be much better delivered via a podcast than via the traditional ‘flat’ html pages that all UK brands are now spending hours and ┬ús on developing.

And, naturally, it’s all good for SEO. Google loves podcasts – we have seen examples where podcast posts and episodes show up within minutes on the rankings. There could even be a use for Ricky Gervais….

Tanya Goodin

Tanya Goodin

Founder of Tamar