Yahoo finally launched Yahoo! Podcasts in public beta, allowing users to easily search, preview and subscribe to audio content and listen at their own leisure. You can access it at http://podcasts. yahoo.com/. How can it help your business?
What's in it for you?
Podcasting is obviously all the rage nowadays. According to I ISP Interland's Summer 2005 Small and Medium-sized Business Barometer, 11% of small business leaders are interested in using podcasting as part of their website features.
A forecast based on the data on sales of portable digital music players and high-speed Internet penetration by The Diffusion Group released in June 2005 showed that demand for podcasts is expected to reach as much as 60 million users by the end of the decade.
Another interesting fact probably worth mentioning is the release of iTunes 4.9 in June 2005, which integrated podcasting for the first time into the music player used by close to 40 million consumers.
Only two days after the release, podcast subscription reached a number probably none of us would believe before: one million. Many podcasts received free exposure and got surge of subscribers at that time.
As Yahoo! Podcasts entered the market, this event might very well happen again the second time. I am not a psychic but if you can tap into this publishing medium and be one of the first to immediately get exposure to millions of people searching for very specific content they are interested in, I know only good things will happen to your business. I hope you agree with me.
Why it matters to your business
iTunes Podcast Directory offers more than 15,000 podcasts and growing quite rapidly at 1,000 a week according to Steve Job, the CEO of Apple Computer. That is just one directory. This may seem like a lot at the first glance but really it doesn't even scratch the surface when compared to how many websites are currently available on the Web.
With more than 6 million podcast consumers have already listened to podcast in April 2005, there sure are a lot of room to play. If you want a proof, just browse on any popular podcast directory and see how many of them only have a handful items, even on a relatively popular topics.
But really, “Why does it matter to my business?" Well, for the first time there is a way to reach your audience of customers through the use of voice. It's much like your own radio show but listeners can tune in any time they want to.
The power to be able to express emotion and bring personality to your marketing communication can be very powerful. From public relation, customer relationship management, name branding, to generating leads and sales, all can be done through the same medium, but more powerful than the traditional text based communication. Imagine these benefits and the ability to get your podcast in front of millions of Yahoo! Podcasts visitors for free.
How to participate
You can use existing computer equipment to record your voice or anything audible. Really, podcasting is not limited to talk show but can be in the format of music samples, audio books, and more. A microphone that comes with your computer can do it, but a decent one makes you sound professional.
If you need to edit and mix the sound before publishing, some audio editing tools are available for free. To make a podcast file accessible, you need to upload the audio file to a public web server. In the future we may have alternative distribution methods but for now serving it through a public web server is the most common one.
When it's time to publish your podcast, you can use the existing blog software to build a podcast website for the podcast show. Using a blog platform allows you to manage content easier. Most of them can generate a valid podcast feed to for you. It's such a nice feature, but not compulsory.
An RSS feed carries the podcast audio metadata and syndicate it to the mass. Existing technologies even make the whole process of creating and publishing the feed almost seamless.
Once you have a podcast ready, all you needed to get listed is to enter the URL to your podcast feed at the Yahoo! Podcasts Publishing page (http://podcasts. yahoo.com/publish). You can even tag it so that others can find your podcast easier.
When to start
While the use of podcasting has gained a significant boost lately, it is not for every market yet. Some industries are better serve through other channels. Yet others mostly consist of users who connected with slower Internet connection where regular audio downloads may be more difficult and longer, or simply are not that technical savvy.
You know your market better than me, but you can't never be sure until you test it. The technologies are here, allowing you to start on a shoestring. You may even stop if this is not for you and continue after your market is ready. Whatever it is, just make sure you don't miss the opportunity.
If you decide that podcasting is for you, there are dozens of free resources you can use to start immediately. The sooner you start the better. Your audience may have been waiting for your podcast and if by the time they can't find yours, obviously you'll be missing not only targeted traffic from one of the search engine giants but also prospective customers.
Copyright 2005 Hendry Lee
Hendry Lee is actively blogging about Podcast Marketing . He helps people use technologies and content to market their business online. Subscribe to Podcast Profit Tips to receive concise information and strategies to get the most out of your podcast.