The term podcasting emerged in 2004 as a combination of the keywords ‘iPod’ and ‘broadcasting’. The term is a little misleading, as you don’t actually need to have an iPod to listen to a podcast, you just need something that will play mp3 files.
In 2005, podcasting became an official word in the New Oxford American Dictionary meaning a ‘digital recording of a radio broadcast or similar program, made available on the Internet for downloading to a personal audio player. From there, this medium has branched out to encompass a whole host of talk show type programmes, from instructional pieces, to coffee talk guides, to radio shows themselves.
But why has it taken off so well? What made everyone jump on the podcast bandwagon?
Podcasting allowed consumers to have fresh content right now. In a day and age where information is received at neck breaking speed, audible content has become a quick and easy way to get a message across via a more dynamic and intriguing forum. It has given consumers a medium by which they can take their information on-the-go. They can be walking to work listening to the latest instructional fly fishing piece from Fly Fishing or debate about childcare from Mommy Cast. It has given people a chance to receive the information they want when they want to have it.
Secondly, podcasts are more interesting than faceless web pages. Rather than ploughing through mildly average content to try and decipher real information, consumers can now listen to their favourite podcast broadcaster divulging industry secrets straight to their ears. Where website content builds a barrier between the reader and the writer and company, podcasts invite the listener to become a silent partner to the conversation, making people feel at home and comfortable and enticing them to come back and listen some more.
So where is it going? Why is it useful now?
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There are two main ways that podcasting is branching out now to encompass all aspects of online life. Firstly, it’s being used in business as a way to create content for websites and build SEO. Companies are providing weekly or monthly podcasts that can consist of instruction guides, interviews with experts or general industry discussions for their customers to listen to. Often a ‘sign up’ service, podcasting is being used as a method for building an online community around companies and to increase recognition of brands.
By making these podcasts, businesses are able to have a creative content piece which can easily be shared across social media, creating backlinks and increasing the community activity surrounding their brand. This increases their search engine potential and brings companies up the search engine ranks to try and get that number one golden spot at the top of Google’s first page.
Secondly, and probably more interestingly, podcasting has become the new face of DJs. With such a busy world and longer working hours, people don’t always have time to catch their favourite radio DJs, so radio stations are now recording podcasts to allow their listeners to catch shows later on.
Secondary to this, up and coming DJs (musical or talk show hosts) can now piece together shows to build an online following to pursue their career. By shaping an online presence through podcasts, up and coming DJs are able to create listenable material for fans from their own home without the need of a fancy studio or professional DJ equipment.
A great example of this is Chris Arnold, founder and familiar voice of Cool Beans, releases a radio show podcast using Mixcloud to build an audience online. Through a mixture of local shows and social media, he was able to publicise and promote his podcast, creating himself as a household name in his certain circles. He used his podcasts to secure himself slots on local radio shows as a freelance DJ, at festivals as a presenter and interviewing for local TV shows.
Podcasting has moved forward from its original stance of providing one time information pieces to becoming a medium in its own right, supplying ‘on demand’ entertainment, information and education. Not only has it become a familiar face for listeners who want to be able to access their own choice in entertainment when it suits them, it has also become a user friendly platform to support businesses and promote young aspiring DJs and talk show hosts.
As such an easy to use tool, it has allowed people to build their own libraries of shows and syndicate them across the Internet to build their own following and success through the sharing of information. Podcasts are the perfect way to build yourself up in this social media frenzied, here and now society. With information exponentially replicating and spreading like viruses across Facebook, Google+ and Tumblr, it has become the quickest way of securing your own destiny as an online face for public consumption.
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