If you’re new to the term, podcasts are digital audio shows that are typically focused on a running theme, subject or purpose and can include interviews, storytelling or opinion talks. Podcasts are not new to the online landscape, but they’ve gained widespread notice from recent shows that have been wildly popular, such as Serial and This American Life.
As podcasts become more common and gain more listeners, it begs the question; should they become part of your association’s communications and marketing plan? Much like video, podcasts are rising in appeal among all demographics, and that includes your members, whoever they may be. Determining whether your association should consider creating a podcast comes down to knowing the resources available to you (time and money) as well as the ultimate format and goals of the podcast.
The following are some benefits of podcasting that you may want to take into consideration when deciding if your association should start its own digital show for members.
Podcasts are perfect way to share knowledge, which make them a great tool for associations looking to offer professional development, first-class information and even certification.
If your association is thinking of creating a podcast with education as the goal, it is opening itself up to a world of options. You can take some issues explored at conferences or in your magazine and delve deeper into their subject matter. Recent events can be examined further in a podcast. Interviews with experts, members and staff are a great way to provide context to issues, make them easy to understand and relate them back to the way members do their job in a meaningful practical way. You can even look at a service that the association provides or part of the organization’s history and educate members in that way, while also promoting your association.
Podcasts are one of the most portable, accessible and easy-to-digest forms of content available right now, which makes them ideal for an association looking to separate itself from the crowd and get an edge on the competition.
Once downloaded, podcasts can be listened to just about anywhere; work, home, in the car, on the subway and just about everywhere else you can think of. It can be listened to on just about any device as well, which makes it easy for your members to access on their computer, tablet or phone, no matter their style of technology. Print and video can often be a little too consuming or unavailable for people. You can’t access an article when you’re on the subway and you can’t watch a video when you’re working on a spreadsheet at the office. However, you can listen to a podcast that has been downloaded in both scenarios. This can give your association an edge that it won’t regret.
Everyone likes a little fun once in a while, especially when it’s relaxing and engaging, which is exactly the combination that podcasts bring to the table. While your members become hooked on an entertaining podcast series, they are more likely to interact with your association and its other content as well.
We don’t mean to bash on other forms of online content, but many of them require some work on the part of the member. Reading a blog, combing through tweets and even reading a Facebook post means putting in the time. Podcasts are a great way to unwind and listen to people actively interacting with you about a topic you’re interested in. If your association is keen on creating a podcast, it should keep the topics on something engaging and interesting and even light and fun once in a while. Don’t be overly serious about the subject matter. This way, listening to your podcast will become part of a routine for members who see it as a way to spend their spare time. This will encourage them to engage with other parts of your organization, creating an active and engaged membership.
With any association initiative, revenue is front and centre. Podcasts don’t have to be a loss leader for your association. With some persistence and creativity they can even help your organization make a little cash.
Podcasts are usually downloaded and listened to on a mobile device. Your association can charge a small fee for each download. Your association can also restrict the fee to non-members, putting the podcast behind a members-only wall. If walls and fees aren’t your thing, try selling advertisements or sponsorship. You can plug paying companies during the podcast and charge for the service. If you can find a company to sponsor the whole shebang, that’s even more of a revenue coup! Remember to always keep track of the number of listeners or downloads so you can make your sales pitch to advertisers and sponsors.