Stephen Baker (Blogspotting) says the novelty of podcasting has worn off (for him, perhaps others). He prefers “pure music” when he works out (not Coverville). He points to a recent consumer survey conducted by Bridge Data that indicates more 80% of podcast downloads never make it to a portable player or another device – they are consumed on the PC (or, worse, never listened or deleted).”
I subscribe to half a dozen favorite podcasts (Diggnation, TWIT, Business Week, Podcast 411) and listen to them on my nano. But I’m not surprised that most folks can’t/don’t choose to do so. I thought about this a good deal this past week as we met with various businesses and organizations to talk about podcasting and how it could be used to communicate with a variety of audiences (internal and external). Imagine a bunch of grown-ups calling some teenagers into the conference room: “We’ve decided we want to hold a company rave and we’d like for you to tell us what this is all about and how to do a good one.”
While it’s relatively inexpensive to produce a podcast, it’s damned hard to do a good one. Companies think in terms of ROI and I’m not sure podcasting will pass that test when you are conditioned to buying “spots” in radio and TV shows with ready-made audiences.
Here’s what I think will happen. A few really savvy businesses or organizations will find someone that really understands podcasting and trust them enough to produce a good one for them. They might hire this person or “sponsor” an existing podcast. Over time, the podcast will develop a following. But we’re talking hundreds of listeners (maybe thousands if it’s REALLY good)…not hundreds of thousands or millions. How much trouble and/or expense will a company go to in oder to reach this relatively small, albeit targeted, audience?
Another possible scenerio is what I think of as the “homegrown podcast.” Some guy that works at Lowe’s, for example, starts doing a weekly home improvement podcast. He’s pretty good at it and gets a little following. He plays it for the boss who likes what he hears and agrees to pick up the costs and buy some better recording equipment. In return for a couple of brief –non-intrusive– mentions about this week’s specials. In the Hollywood version of this story, Lowe’s corporate jumps on the bandwagon.
My gut tells me this is a bottom-up medium. It requires a lot of passion…some juice. People have “passion” and “juice.” Corporations do not. Corporations have spreadsheets. Really good ideas come from individuals, not organizations and institutions. I wonder if that isn’t true of blogs and podcasts as well.