News and primary portal sites like Canada.com and Yahoo keep their web content fresh by using a combination of text plus audio and video feeds both from their own newsfeeds and third party providers. Not surprisingly, Neilson Wire’s April 2009 Global Media Landscape Report disclosed that the total minutes engaged with online video grew 71 percent.
Podcasting is technical jargon for serialized audio and video content – it is like creating a radio or TV station with a series of episodes with your own content or by aggregating and re-broadcasting content from other content providers (syndication). New software technology means that podcast management is not just for the large portal sites and companies anymore.
How do consultants determine when broadcast “media” casting or podcasting is right for your client’s marketing mix and how do you help them proceed?
1.) What is the client’s goal?
Like all marketing programs – the first step is to determine the overarching purpose so you can set goals and objectives for adding video or audio content to a client’s site or marketing mix. Do you want to drive conversions, keep visitors from bouncing to a competitors site or build awareness? Do you want to allow the content to be shared freely across social media sites and will you accept and act on comments on your content? Having a clear goal and determining how to execute will help you map a path for your client and set metrics for success.
2.) What is the client’s technical capacity?
What are the IT protocols? With YouTube and WordPress, pretty much anyone with reasonable technical skills can add audio and video content to their site. However, these tools may not be appropriate for corporate or government sites that need to manage multiple podcasts, require global capacity and custom branding. For example, YouTube can be blocked in some countries, and can be clumsy to use. It is not often a corporation would rely on WordPress or other free site builders unless they are in bootstrap mode since branding a website is a critical part of their image and messaging. Privacy may also be an issue – many IT departments prefer a level of control so they will want to use licensed software products with known characteristics within their firewall – which often means YouTube is not an option. As a consultant, you can assist the client with a frank assessment of their technical and IT capacity and policies before moving into assessing the appropriate podcast product.
3.) Does the client need to create original content?
There are countless podcast directories from which to pull quality content, and equally compelling reasons for some organizations to invest in creating their own episodes, serialized or custom content. Technology has made audio and video formatting issues less of a concern though the quality of production is important. For example, police and fire departments now create public information hubs with fire and public safety episodes to be shared with content subscribers and other departments via RSS Feed. Subscribers then share the material on social networking sites, expanding the scope from the original department site and allowing it to be widely viewed. Other companies put product information, and training in episodic podcasting form available via private login and others want to create humorous or specialized content available publicly to build their brands.
4.) Who will maintain the site?
The biggest impediment to podcasting is the same stumbling block that hinders corporations from embarking on social media campaigns. Time. Who will be maintaining site content and what is the time investment? Technology advances have made podcast engines much easier to work with and pushing mainstream adoption – though the time factor has to be weighed against the purpose, goals and technical capacity of the organization.
5.) What features are required?
Once you have worked with your client on the basics, you can assist reviewing the features, benefits and costs of the various podcast engine suppliers. It is unlikely that a client would build their own player as podcast management engines are commercially available. Typically, Fortune 500 corporate sites rely on broadcast services from heavy hitters, Treedia and Mediafly for high end corporate video broadcasting. Mid-range product from Canadian technology player DailySplice (and a former client btw!) fills the need for the feature rich affordable content management that is easy for the non-technical manager of small to medium size enterprise to manage. DailySplice also recently entered the corporate arena with product upgrades though it is not yet clear how they will compare to Treedia. For cost effectiveness, the low end niche is covered by Danish Podcast Machine . There are other suppliers as well – each with their own benefits.
Consultants are often called on to research and recommend methods to keep messages front and center with a target audience. Audio and video podcast streaming on websites and to mobile handset players have become technically and economically feasible with strong links to social media, providing a new and viable option for the marketing promotion mix and for presenting corporate and non-profit messages.
Terry Rachwalski is a Certified Management Consultant and MBA based in Victoria, BC. She specializes in go-to-market strategies and business development for technology firms