James Arnold, Chief Digital Officer, Rooster Strategic Solutions
With little fanfare and even fewer autograph requests, The Rooster Cast recently hit its 100th episode. Each episode was intended to teach the audience about digital but the experience taught us quite a bit, as well.
The Rooster Cast is a podcast, or microcast, that covers digital marketing and sales topics primarily focused on agriculture. It is quite short, no longer than 77 seconds, which equates to 5 or 6 paragraphs for the script. It launched a year ago as a test of an emerging suite of technology tools around voice search. Because of that, the podcast is also available on Alexa or Google Home as a part a news briefing or skill.
Topics of The Rooster Cast have ranged from email and voice search to programmatic and social. Digital video has also been a focus area for many, including an episode on YouTube as No. 100.
As the host of The Rooster Cast, I have endeavored to teach everyone something with each episode, but I also love to learn through the process. For budding podcasters or microcasters, here are three key areas of education:
- The metrics are sketchy. Every tool will be different, but none of them are particularly solid. As a marketer, this knowledge is powerful because it allows me to filter when looking for social media influencers to sponsor. I know the metrics are challenging to both find and to prove. For instance, The Rooster Cast has more than 50,000 plays in a year’s time, which equates to 500 listens per episode. Two early episodes on fraud generated 3,300 listens on their own, so you can see the sweet spot for this content is between 500 and 1,000 per episode. The challenge is the tool that is giving me that data is unchecked and goes against other data inputs. For instance, our site traffic to each episode is fewer than 50 page views or unique visits. The social media promotion shows negligible direct click-throughs. During recent interrogations, most of my friends, family and co-workers haven’t listened to but a handful of them. And, the universe of potential interested individuals is probably in the 100-200 range. So, how does The Rooster Cast pull 2x-4x listenership? I can’t explain it.What I can explain is when digital media tools have a questionable analytic around them that can’t be checked, it’s not to be believed.A few months ago, in an effort to slay this dragon, I investigated PodTrac. PodTrac follows the listenership metrics in podcasting and now sells some of its data on a categorical basis. Its concept is sound but the tool is still in the glitchy stages.
- Stay current with all of the players. Unlike a web site or email, where you build one and it propagates into all of the other types, styles, search engines and systems, podcasting requires a pioneering spirit. You have to know all of the players among the players, and you have to register your podcast in all of them. It all starts with Amazon and Google for any voice search aspirations (and you MUST have voice search aspirations). Spotify, TuneIn, Spreaker, CastBox, PodBean and Stitcher are just a few of the others. A podcast can be entertaining to put together and record, but if you want any shot at someone else hearing it, you must engage with all of these toolsets. And they change often, so checking in on them every other month or so will keep you current.
- Apply the usual content marketing practices. A podcast is a piece of content and should be treated like any other content – a blog, an infographic, a video, etc. That means….
- Create with the audience in mind. Determine the topics, the cadence, the tone, the length, the source and everything else about the podcast based on the intended audience.
- Promote where the audience spends time. The Rooster Cast is primarily for the business-minded digital marketer. Promoting it on Facebook to my friends and family will not get it into the hands of the right people, although my mom says it is good. LinkedIn, Twitter, our web site and our enewsletter are obvious promotional locations for it. But don’t leave out your email signature or on your social media profiles, or printed on your business cards, if you have those. Make the right people aware that it exists and they might check it out.
- Analyze what the audience finds interesting. The metrics are sketchy but they are my sketchy metrics. Even if I don’t believe them, I need to use them directionally to know what is hitting and what is missing. A post about digital analytics in April generated 1,300 listens but the episode prior to it about competitive web site traffic tools had only 400. It doesn’t mean I will shy away from the important topics, but it does tell me my audience might shy away when I get too deep in the weeds.
The intent of The Rooster Cast was never to become a regular podcast with 100 episodes. It started as a test. It’s become an education on a reasonably hot digital category that will likely blow up even more with voice search powering it.
If you are considering a podcast or a podcast strategy in your marketing efforts, let me know how we might be able to help.