"I feel like I already know you!"
When I worked in the conference world, one of the joys of my job was getting to see online friends meeting in person for the first time. It might seem weird to call someone a friend if you've never actually met them, but after reading one another's blogs, exchanging tweets, and even having conversations on Skype, it's easy for a friendship to build. You grow to know and like one another, and even to trust one another.
Wouldn't it be great if you could build that same online friendship with every single one of your customers? After all, people are more likely to make a purchase when they know, like, and trust you, just as they do a friend.
Having a personable blog and sharing on social media are great strategies, but if you really want to solidify that relationship, consider one more tool: podcasting.
With a podcast, you're making a more intimate connection with your audience because people actually hear your voice. You're also telling people that you're an authority on the subject, and you're even reaching an entirely new audience, since some people don't read blogs or use social media much - they just listen to podcasts.
Best of all, podcasting is not as hard as you think!
What You Need to Get Started
Technically, all you need to get started is a computer with a mic (or even a smartphone), some kind of program to record your voice (there are many free options available), and a little time to record. I was first part of a podcast back in 2008, and that's pretty much all we had for our weekly video game show.
Now, I highly recommend spending a little money to purchase a nice mic rather than using the one built into your computer, as well as some sound editing software so you can edit out any awkward pauses or other parts you don't want to be in the final product you upload for listeners. But you don't need to splurge. If you're just getting started, you can find all of the equipment you need for under $100.
Once you're ready to get more serious about podcasting, I highly recommend checking out a couple of resources:
- the excellent overall article called, How to Start a Podcast: Ultimate Guide for Beginners
- the equipment advice from Podcast Answer Man (Cliff Ravenscraft), which you can check out here. Cliff also has an absolutely free Learn How to Podcast training course available here if you want some training before getting started. (I'm not an affiliate for any of Cliff's products; I just think it's top-notch!)
What to Podcast About
Resist the urge to start a podcast about your company. While you can (and should) mention company news on your podcast, people won't tune in to hear what equates to a commercial for your brand. What you want is a podcast that will better your online reputation by making you an expert on your industry, or even a very specific part of your industry.
For example, let's say you own a small brick-and-mortar business, like a BBQ restaurant. You could podcast about:
- The restaurant industry
- Food, in general
- Your local neighborhood
And while you certainly want to mention your restaurant, the entire podcast should not be about your business.
A great option is to have at least one co-host. You'll notice that on radio shows, they typically have two or three people, sometimes with a fourth person who comes in for specific segments. It's just easier to play off of one another than to talk to yourself.
You can also have weekly guests on your podcast. This is key for helping you promote, since guests tend to tell their audiences when they are on someone's podcast. It's also a great way to build relationships with key people in your industry: have them on your podcast.
The Dark Side of Podcasting
Podcast can also ruin your online reputation if you're not careful. Here are a few things to avoid:
- Rants and angry comments: It can feel SO good to slam someone who is acting like an idiot or saying things about your company that aren't true, but resist the urge. Rants are one of the fastest ways to change what people think about you online, and not for the better.
- Personal rambling: You do want to let people into your personal life a bit with your podcast, but too much gets boring to other people. Share the fact that your sister just had a baby and you're a new aunt/uncle. Avoid the play-by-play retelling of the labor...unless, of course, you have a pregnancy podcast!
- Off topic conversations: We all get off topic sometimes, and that's okay. Just be aware that if you spend more time off topic than on topic, you're probably going to lose some readers. People come to your podcast because they have a specific interest in the topic you're covering, so make sure that most of the time, you're talking about that topic.
- Mistakes: If you want people to see you as an expert in your field, you need to give them correct information. If you're not sure about a fact, say that and fact check it later for your show notes. Don't BS your way through a conversation, because people will call you out on it.
Common sense, right? Right!
Podcasting can be a lot of fun on top of being a great way to improve what people think about you online. Look into starting one today - or at the very least, start listening to some of the podcasts in your industry and building relationships with the hosts so you can be a guest on their podcasts.