So many podcasts…so little time
On a conference call yesterday with a client we were discussing the many forms of new media (e.g., blogging, podcasting, vlogging) they might use and I was asked point-blank, “So Steve, you had a nice podcast. If podcasting is so great, why did you stop?”
I did the obligatory humma-humma dance and recovered by stating that it no longer met my communication goals. Totally true, but it made me step back and ponder a bit more deeply about why I stopped.
Part of the reason was lukewarm feedback. Though I had a few dozen hardcore fans (many of whom were vocal and emailed me often), my base of podcast listeners pales in comparison to my blog efforts and audience size. My monetary return on investment for blogging is huge (many clients come to me specifically due to my blog) compared to primarily personal satisfaction I felt with podcasting which was nice, but the few hour investment of time to perform, edit and deliver a podcast wasn’t worth the effort.
The other reason?
There are simply too many podcasts making it extremely difficult to be discovered and an audience built. Take a look at the screenshot in iTunes. To find a podcast (other than the top ones or those promoted to the front page) means browsing by clicking “Browse” under “Quick Links” on the upper right hand corner of iTunes.
If you click that you’ll see that there are 16 categories of podcasts each with 1,000 shows listed! As an experiment, I chose a category, clicked on a podcast, loaded it and listened to a snippet of the first show. Did it again-n-again for ten times. Guess what?
Reviewing just ONE podcast took THREE MINUTES. Do the math (3 x 1,000 = 3,000 minutes or 50 HOURS for one category) and you’ll see that no one is going to do a whole lot of browsing to discover which are the good shows within any given category.
Even if someone just bounced around categories at random to find shows, they’d invest hours and hours to do any meaningful browsing which means any show is unlikely to be discovered.
There is a part of decision theory concerned with the paradox of choice (and there is a book by that name, The Paradox of Choice-Why More is Less, by Barry Schwartz here). Basically there is a tipping point where the number of choices causes people to simply become paralyzed and overwhelmed and thus their natural human reaction is to NOT CHOOSE.
I submit that there is a paradox of choice with the sheer volume of podcasts out there today. The barrier-to-entry for podcasting is a headset with microphone and free software so any schneeb who wishes he’d gone into broadcasting in his early twenties can make one (that would be me).
That’s why I “podfaded” as it’s called and only deliver podcasts as part of my efforts with my clients. Does this mean that you shouldn’t podcast? Nope. If it meets your communication goals and is part of your overall go-to-market strategy, by all means do it. I’d recommend delivering short shows (less than 10 minutes) unless it’s high value content or your audience will stand for (or appreciate) long shows. Also, deliver these short shows with a Flash player so that your audience can listen to them right on your web page or blog so they don’t have to download the mp3.
About Steve Borsch
Connecting the Dots Podcast
Podcasting hit the mainstream in July of 2005 when Apple added podcast show support within iTunes. I'd seen this coming so started podcasting in May of 2005 and kept going until August of 2007. Unfortunately was never 'discovered' by national broadcasters, but made a delightfully large number of connections with people all over the world because of these shows. Click here to view the archive of my podcast posts.