“Video killed the radio star,” sang The Buggles in 1979. For almost 40 years they were so right that some people might have thought that they were soothsayers.
Recently, something’s changed and the radio stars — or the podcast stars, to be precise — are finally having their revenge! Podcasts are becoming increasingly popular, and some of them are so well-followed that even companies are using this medium as a way to conquer new audiences and drive the product they’re selling.
Babbel, the world’s leading language learning app, started an Italian podcast called 4 Verticale in February 2016. The two hosts, Stefano and Giulia, are storytellers who share their experiences with listeners: living abroad, being expats, making fools of themselves in foreign languages, and also sharing Venetian words that are used all over the world and Italian vintage insults. It’s all about being interesting, funny and engaging their audience.
“Let’s start a company podcast then”, you’re thinking. It’s easy, but it’s not that easy. What are the steps to take to start a successful company podcast?
Here’s a list of suggestions for any would-be podcasters, prepared by Stefano and Giulia from 4 Verticale.
1. Find a partner (who you like)
If you understand Italian and you’re a fan of 4 Verticale, you certainly understood — besides the cool stories — that Giulia and Stefano have a lot of fun and enjoy doing a podcast together. This is not an optional step, this is the first thing you have to look for before going any further. Good chemistry with your co-host is essential to delivering an entertaining product.
2. Purchase a microphone and editing software
Quality over quantity, always. There is nothing worse than a badly recorded and poorly edited podcast. The content might be amazing but you certainly don’t want to annoy your audience with buzzing room tone, static, pops and muffled voices. Therefore, good tools are the first thing you have to invest in. At Babbel, Giulia and Stefano are very lucky because they can count on quality audio devices and also on an insulated production room. If you have a good microphone, however, you will simply need a silent room and to ask your colleagues to close doors quietly.
Once you’re familiar with the use of the microphone, it’s time to learn how to use editing software – which could be GarageBand, or the tool that comes with your Spreaker subscription. When in doubt, you can find plenty of tutorials on YouTube that teach you how to edit, adjust the volume, and add background music and sound effects.
3. Decide on your style and write an editorial schedule
Is your style funny and informative? Professional and placid? Hilarious and wacky? It’s up to you (and your company, of course). Choose the style that best fits the product you’re representing, and make sure not to become a living billboard: you don’t want people to get annoyed because you’re so clearly promoting your product. You’re telling stories and your company is sponsoring the podcast. You want people to like YOU and your podcast — you want them to become YOUR fans. Remember that the podcast has to live its own life independently of a product. Ideally, you can even exist without the product because you’re so cool and people tune in no matter what.
Once you’ve found your style, sit down and prepare an editorial schedule. Remember that in order to engage your audience, you have to release episodes regularly (preferably once a week) – so write the schedule accordingly! Prepare the material you think you’ll need, write a draft of the episode if you need references, and rehearse a bit before starting (this will become less necessary as you gain confidence).
4. Choose your podcast’s home and spread the word
This is a very important step: the platform you choose will help you obtain visibility and attract more listeners. Spreaker has a broad and diversified audience but you still need to promote your podcast.
To start with, just consider which marketing channels your company is already using: newsletters, social media, PR, content marketing and so on.
For 4 Verticale, Babbel chose a 360° strategy that successfully incorporated all the available channels and gave a lot of attention to the podcast, but you can shape your own direction by choosing whatever you think is the best option for your company.
Now it’s time to go “ON AIR.” And don’t forget to have fun — this is certainly the most important tip!