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Harnessing the power of the podcast

Does podcasting's rise from nerd to herd open a new avenue of brand communication?

From its conception in the early 2000s as a novel new feature on the original iPods, podcasting has become a bona fide content medium. Recent hits such as WBEZ Chicago's Serial (over 5million downloads and counting) have shown that the format is now booming and a diverse audience are discovering the joys of podcasting.

So what is a podcast?

It's a bit like a neatly packaged version of a radio show to enjoy at your convenience. In fact many of the most popular podcasts such as Radio 4's Friday Night Comedy and Absolute Radio's The Frank Skinner Show are exactly that. But there are also a whole host of other shows created exclusively for the format, ranging from the homemade to the BBC, catering for every interest and niche. Head to iTunes, Soundcloud and Stitcher to start hunting.

Did you know?

Over 1billion podcasts are downloaded every month, according to U.S.A. today.

Podcasts can be from 5 minutes to 3 hours long, but most tend to be around 1 hour.

They can be videos but the most popular tend to be audio.

Most podcasts are entirely free, although some podcasts charge for one-off specials and exclusive content.

Podcasts can be downloaded or streamed from almost any device with internet connection. Simply subscribe to a podcast and you will automatically receive the latest episodes when they're released. Now you're ready for the morning commute.

Where Do Podcasts Fit Into Your Content Offering?

Podcasting has huge potential to become an essential addition to a brand's roster of content production and distribution. They can be made easily and without great expense and target a specific group of customers.

Some forward thinking companies have already started podcasting. Hugo Boss produces Hugo Boss Tracks, a monthly mixtape of new music 'suited to a modern, fashion orientated lifestyle.'

This is a great example of how branded podcasts should be done. The aim, as with all content marketing, is to first and foremost interesting, relevant and useful. No one wants to download a hard sell.

Some of our favourite podcasts

How To Do Everything

One of a host of great podcasts from NPR, makers of Radiolab and TED Radio Hour. How To Do Everything is 'half advice show, half survival guide.' They serve up humorously packaged snippets of trivia, insight and knowhow on a range of subjects 'from how to find a date, to how to find water in the desert.

Stuff You Missed In History Class

Remember all those fascinating things you learned in history class? No, we don't either, but the hardworking folks at howstuffworks.com do such a great job of boiling down historical events into 15 minute slices of factoids that you'll wonder why it was such a drag at school.

No Such Thing As A Fish

The podcast from the QI Elves that makes use of the leftover curios and facts from the BBC TV show.

The Football Ramble

A good example of a homespun podcast. Four regular lads discuss the week's footballing highlights. A slightly better informed and sober version of your average pub chat.

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