What started out as a “let’s see what happens” experiment with On Branding last year has turned into a full-fledged love affair with the medium.
That's why I'm starting Brandthology this month, kickstarted by an unbelievably talented lineup of anthropologists, inspiration architects, product designers, and retail strategists.
Even now, it's still a little strange to think that my voice has been heard in over 100 countries, across every major continent and global market. That I have some kind of presence people enjoy, that my voice isn’t too nasally for them, or that I ask questions they like hearing about. It’s probably the same feeling people had in the 70’s, when they realized other people could hear them from their basement ham radios. Is this thing on?
To think that you have something important to say — a story worth telling, or a person worth sharing — that can reach people all across the world is the single most profound and impactful thing when it comes to storytelling.
For me, podcasting is an outstanding storytelling medium for a few reasons:
1. Podcasts are just natural conversations that happen to take place in front of a microphone.
Interviewing some of the world’s greatest thinkers to benefit the creative and entrepreneurial community is where my heart is always at. Researching guests, asking them about their work or creative habits, and finding questions that resonate with what our audience would ask if they had a chance are all reasons to love this process. In a way, I see hosting akin to being the translator — I’m representing my audience by asking questions they want to hear, helping them take away something valuable in the process. Podcasting feels natural, even better when there's some light narration to put time or other events into context. Done right, it doesn't feel like a paid ad or "click here" banner, but rather a refreshing meeting of the minds that invite people to listen in.
2. Podcasts allow you and your guest to post content that’s share worthy.
The great benefit of podcasting is that it allows you to market your show with a steady stream of content, while also giving your guest content that’s worthy of sharing to their own audience. One of my strongest strategies when vetting guests is finding a.) interesting people who, b.) have done incredible work, that c.) have a large audience or following that appreciates them for it. Once our guest shares the show with their followers via social media, blog post, or newsletter, it means greater listenership due in part to the established influence of our guest. When people choose to listen, they know they’re listening about a person or topic they’re already interested in.
3. Podcasts give you the opportunity to strike up conversations with your heroes.
I’ve interviewed a ton of really, really cool VIP’s. People like Jeff Raider, co-founder of Warby Parker. People like Guy Duncan, Chief Creative Officer at Coca-Cola. People like Soraya Darabi, co-founder of ZADY and formerly head of digital at the NYTimes. People like Cap Watkins of Etsy (now BuzzFeed), Megan and Mike Gilger of Wild Measure, and Julie Cottineau of BrandTwist and Virgin.
But the best part about a podcast is your ability to brush shoulders with people you admire, picking their brain about topics that can directly benefit you and your audience. This means building your community around a group of influencers, and people who can help you meet even more influential guests. And, although it’s not a priority, interviewing a guest you admire can open up juicy business prospects, collaborations, and partnerships.
4. Podcasts boost your SEO and transcripts can give audiences the chance to read if they can’t listen.
Have you ever seen 30-45 minutes of conversation written down? It adds up to a lot of words, words that are likely “buzz words” for your own content marketing or relate to what people typically search for when it comes to your name. Podcasting is one of the single most powerful things we’ve done for our clients’ SEO, as Google favors those who have strong, steady content publishing each week.
We also have a few creme de la creme transcribers on our team, who are quick to turn around conversations for a small fee. This has helped our own workflow immensely, eliminating the need to spend hours transcribing when that time could be better spent working on other projects that need our attention. As much as they feed search engine rankings, transcribing podcasts is also a huge favor to your audience, especially if they’re hearing impaired and still want to join the conversation, or if they’re in a setting that limits their ability to listen.
5. Podcasts let people find and explore content on their own terms.
We say it all the time: magnetic content brings people in, while forced content pushes people away. Podcasts are a very personal thing. Some people listen at the gym. Some people listen on their commute. Other people only check up on what’s new once a month. When you publish a podcast, you’re letting people find you on their terms — where and when they want to invite you into their ears. For that reason, our audiences appreciate that we publish frequently, but don’t force it on them in a way that interrupts their own style of listening.