Podcasting – audio programs, played on a website or downloaded to a player such as an iPod – can be an effective way to tell your story. Listening to a 10 to 30 minute podcast is generally easier than plowing through a white paper and the podcast may peak the interest, which makes them want to read your white paper or consider your offerings.
Because of the popularity of portable MP3 players, including many of the newer mobile phones, podcasts can connect with an audience commuting, at the health club, doing chores, and in other situations where TV, the Web, and print do not.
Podcasts are definitely not just for technology companies. Nor do you need technical skills to create them. All you need is a computer, an inexpensive microphone, and some free podcasting software. Once you have created a podcast, you can syndicate it for free through a number of services including iTunes.
Originally podcasts were just audio. The simplicity and portability of sound is one of their key strengths. More recently podcasters have added video. One reason is that video is now cheap. A decent handheld video cameras such as the popular Flip can be had for about $ 150. If that’s too much, you might get by with a $ 30 web cam. Now you too can create limitless amounts of video. But should you?
I am somewhat surprised to find that a few of the podcasts I (used to) subscribe to have changed to videocasts. This change has not been an improvement. True, most of the new portable players have small (mostly 2” or less) screens. They can play video including video podcasts. But too many of the videocasts are just talking heads and shrunken heads at that, when watched on a pocket sized player. Often video subtracts rather than adds value.
Video files are much larger than audio, so videocasts take much longer to download. On the mobile phone or solid state players such as the iPod nano, video also consumes scarce storage space. The viewing experience is often awkward and bloated. If you have important video content, such as demos or product training, by all means show it on your website. Let’s leave the podcasts alone.