Why Don’t Your Customers Listen to Podcasts?

24 08 2009

OK, to be fair they do, but the fact remains that podcast usage is well below what a lot of people had expected.  A PJA IT Social Media Index survey, found that IT decision-makers ranked podcasts #6 in terms of how many hours a week they spend using a particular medium.

Q: How many hours during an average week do you (IT Decision makers) spend online consuming or participating in the following media types?

Discussion Groups 1.40 hours

Peer-to-Peer Networks  1.38 hours

Profiles/Social Networks 1.27 hours

Blogs 1.16 hours

Wikis 1.03 hours

Podcasts 0.88 hours

Podcasts are a great way to communicate, so why don’t people listen more?  I have not found a clear reason why, but here are some potential issues and  suggestions for you to “test for truth” with your specific customer base.

Communication Style: Cognitive studies tell us that all humans have a favored communications style, verbal, written, visual, etc.  Surveys of top executives have shown that many of them favor the visual style of communication.

Idea #1:  For you next big news announcement, publish what you have to say in a document (press release), video, and an audio-only podcast.  Side-by-side.  See which of these mediums your customers reach for.

Idea #2:  It’s common to think of podcasts as audio-only, but that is not necessarily the case.  Try an audio-video podcast.  See #6.

Ideal #3:  If you think that maybe your audience is visually-oriented, offer a one-pager to go along with your podcast.  Give them a diagram or a summary fact sheet to look at while listening.

Communication Length:  I see a lot of podcasts of 30 and 60 minutes in duration.  Some recent studies have suggested that a “normal” attention span for a North American is about 10 minutes, the distance between commercial breaks on TV.  Many people are unconsciously attuned to that interval.

Idea #4.  Experiment with duration.  Try shorter podcasts.  And, stylistically, move it along quickly: You only have a few minutes to get your point across.

Idea #5: If you have a jam-packed agenda, break it up into smaller podcasts with clear agendas.  See if that changes customer usage.

Communication Consumption: Where are your customers most likely to listen to a podcast?  Probably not in the office where they have a lot of other responsibilities and distractions that take a higher priority.  My friends tell me that they most often listen to iPods or similar devices while commuting; driving in cars or riding public transportation to and from work.

Idea #6: Publish your content on iTunes and give your customers instructions on how to subscribe via the iTunes Store.  Bonus: if you include video, this might help with the communication style issue as well.  Factoid: The visual nerve gets a signal to the brain 40x faster than the auditory nerve.

Distribution: If your content is only available on your company Web site, busy customers may not think to look for it.

Idea #7: Consider publishing your content on a third party business-oriented podcast site such as SpokenWord.org.

Notification: How do your customers know you have a new podcast available?  They are busy people and don’t have time to see what is the latest on your site:

Idea #8: Use social media to update them: email (opt-in), RSS feeds, Twitter, Facebook, etc.

Finally, the best way to find out what your customers are thinking is to ask them directly.  If you are looking for an ice-breaker at the next lunch you have with customers, here are some questions to ask. Bring them in on the problem and ask their advice.

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