Websites are so 2000. Today, if you want to build an audience online, you need to be heard and seen. Podcasting and vlogging have displaced blogging over the last three years.
To remain connected with customers and their communities, businesses and organizations need to adapt to the new multimedia realities of online marketing.
Audio and video content improve branding and develop customer loyalty. Media content allow you to demonstrate expertise on products and services. They also allow you to highlight success stories. A mechanic might post a guide to car problems. A garden shop might post a video on pruning roses.
Traditional ads should mention your online media, reinforcing brand loyalty. The media are always available for people to hear and see.
Merging iPod with broadcast gave us the term “podcast.” Although smartphones and tablets displaced the iPod and other music players, the name podcast became a generic description for any audio program distributed online.
The origin of “vlogging” could be video logging or video blogging. Blogging itself comes from Web logging, the practice of publishing a public online journal.
Before deciding to invest in podcasting or vlogging, a business or organization needs a series concept that justifies short weekly programs. Popular examples include product reviews and tests, interviews with experts and profiles of community members.
Organizations can focus on community building for podcasts and vlogs. Interviews of people benefiting from an organization’s services lead audiences to share the programs and reinforce a good reputation.
Some organizations mistakenly assume podcasting and vlogging are free or cheap. Yes, you can record and post from a smartphone, but audiences expect quality productions. There are free and low-cost tools for preparing media content. However, even a free tool requires an investment of time to master and produce each episode.
Podcasting, more than vlogging, requires weekly dedication to producing content.
Popular podcasts feature a series of programs, usually once a week and sometimes several times a week. Among the most popular podcasts are scripted shows, including a dozen National Public Radio productions. The series “This American Life” and “Serial” reach millions of listeners weekly.
Some podcasts are radio dramas, resembling programs from the Golden Age of Radio. My favorite podcast is “The Way I Heard It” with Mike Rowe. Based on the format of “The Rest of the Story” by broadcast legend Paul Harvey, Rowe teaches history through the unexpected twist of a good story. The episode on Walt Disney’s father inspiring the creation of Disneyland remains a personal favorite that I share with students.
Listeners locate podcasts using services including iTunes, TuneIn, Overcast, iHeartRadio, SoundCloud and Spotify. Apple includes a Podcast app with iOS that works well, but many people prefer the extra features of TuneIn or Overcast on the iPhone. Android users favor the unusually named DoggCatcher and CastBox. Google Play also offers podcasts.
Creating a podcast starts with capturing quality audio. I recommend a digital recorder with support for XLR microphone cables. Eventually, a good podcast production needs good microphones for the hosts and guests.
I own Zoom digital recorders and have also used Tascam recorders. These are common within the independent film community if you decide to produce video content later.
You can record directly into a computer, but I prefer the mobility of a digital recorder. Carrying as little gear as possible allows me to go on-site for interviews and be ready in minutes. For speedy interviews, I carry a bag with two lavalier microphones (these are what news anchors wear), a Zoom H4n recorder and mid-range headphones.
For sit-down panel interviews, I have a mixer with eight inputs. The mixer plugs into my computer, recording directly into Apple Logic Pro. Each speaker records to a track, allowing me to adjust the volume and tone of any guest.
Remote interviews require a little more effort for good audio quality. I use the Zencastr service to record remote guests. If you have used Skype, Facetime or Google Hangouts, the Zencastr experience is similar. Like a physical mixer with multiple inputs, each guest speaking during the Zencastr session is recorded to an individual track. If someone doesn’t have a great computer microphone, I can increase the volume (gain) and filter out any humming sounds.
Podcasting also requires a dedicated server. These range from the free SoundCloud to podcasting specialists such as Liberated Syndication (libsyn.com). Expect a weekly, 10-minute show to consume about 80 megabytes of storage per month. If you archive shows, you need more and more space on the server.
More companies and organizations are familiar with video content than podcasts. YouTube is as familiar as Google or Facebook. As a result, companies often want to produce videos instead of audio shows.
The problem with rushing to create videos is that most creators don’t try to capture quality video or sound. The audio matters, especially if people watch videos while wearing headphones.
For one-person shows, I suggest buying a Marantz Turret video station. The Turret features the company’s famous audio quality and a high-definition video camera. Unlike cheaper solutions, especially other webcams, the Turret includes an LED light with filters. Video recorded with the Marantz Turret can rival professional videography.
My suggestion for vlogging is to invest in a good digital camera from Canon, Nikon, Panasonic or Sony that can be used for still photography and video work. An example solution is a Panasonic GH5 with a Rode wireless microphone kit. Expect to spend at least $3,000 on video-related equipment.
Producing a video series requires more time and money than podcasting. YouTube is free when you post a video, but the software and hardware to create videos requires significant investment. Editing a half-hour show takes 16 hours in my experience. I can edit and publish a podcast in two hours.
Video takes longer because you need various camera shots. Watching two people talking without any cuts or edits seems strange. We have been trained to expect close-ups and cut-away shots while watching a video. Viewers also expect text and effects within videos.
You have a story to tell, which podcasting and vlogging can share with the world.