5 steps to grow your brand with a podcast strategy: Vikas Chawla, Social Beat

Guest Column: Vikas Chawla, Co-founder of Social Beat, explains how to build a sustainable podcast channel in an age where content is king

by Vikas Chawla
Published - Sep 17, 2019 8:42 AM Updated: Sep 17, 2019 3:50 PM
Vikas Chawla Social Beat

As we inch closer to 2020, a year full of promises and newer projects coming alive, it’s almost too surreal to see how far we’ve come in every aspect. Way back in 1996, Microsoft founder Bill Gates wrote an essay that led to the birth of an often-used quote - “Content is king”. In the essay, he wrote: “Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet, just as it was in broadcasting.”

Albeit written 23 years ago, Gates’ essay is used in conjunction with today’s content marketing and SEO strategies. In this day and age, there are innumerable avenues to consume and explore content. One of them is podcasts, which are consumed on-the-go and coupled with a variety of content that surpasses genres, lengths, languages and quality. A podcast is not a new concept. They branch from radio and audiobooks, but with the advent of technology and the power of the Internet, they are made in such a way that it caters to everybody’s wants and needs. Read on for the 5 imperatives you need to keep in mind to build a sustainable podcast channel.

Start with a content strategy

A podcast, just like any other type of content marketing, requires a strategy. However, keeping abreast of current affairs and the market isn’t enough. Sometimes, you need to reach out to consumers and ask them what they prefer. Without a strategy, not only does it look disjointed, it can make the whole podcast unprofessional and lead to little or no growth.

The right content strategy involves a lot of self-assessment and questions. What is the purpose of the content? Who is the audience you’re targeting? How will the content help the target audience? Why should the content be more frequent and time-sensitive? Where would your target audience choose to consume your content? It isn’t a one-person effort; devising a strategy involves multiple takes and voices. With the content floating your opinions alone, your consumer’s requirements are neglected. The last thing you’d want is forming an echo chamber.

Experiment before you implement

There’s a plethora of content available in various mediums. For instance, a while ago, no one would’ve imagined how a podcast focusing on an investigative journalist delving deep into a murder case would fare among consumers. However, in 2014, the podcast “Serial” blew up and had so many listeners hooked, leading to it being recognised as a new genre of storytelling. Post that, various genres have been introduced and making waves in the medium. Experiment with various content patterns to identify the style you want to project through your podcasts.

Interview Podcast: This is a frequently tried-and-tested genre, often resulting in a larger engagement with consumers. It brings in a variety of content bearing in mind the different guests you bring in.

Solo Podcast: This type of podcast-style often works when your opinions resonate with the audience. In addition to building a personal connection with your consumers, you also project yourself as a brand.

Panel Show: This involves multiple guests, varied opinions and a higher engagement rate. While it may not adhere to your content strategy, it is a dynamic genre and can offer your audience a larger insight. For instance, It could be a panel discussion on marketing techniques, discussed by various seasoned CMOs and CFOs.

The podcast could be more specific, too, focusing on FAQs based on user questions or a topic that most consumers would like to know. For instance, at Social Beat, we collaborated with Sundaram Mutual for the podcast ‘The Wise Cast’. Available on SoundCloud and Spotify, the podcast has several episodes each different from the other but related to the brand’s USP. Right from decoding the Union Budget to explaining to consumers what the risks are in a fixed maturity plan, ‘The Wise Cast’ is expansive and useful for experts in the field and a layman.

Do not compromise on quality

Once you have figured out your content strategy, then the next step would be to execute it. Just like how shooting a film requires a lot of pre-production work, your podcast would demand the same. Forming an invincible team brimming with creativity is essential. Post the brainstorming and ideation process, you get down to the technical part. Zero in on the right equipment. This part would come in handy as it boosts the quality of your content, leaving no room for any shoddy work or disturbance. Keep it professional by choosing to work on the production in a studio. Post recording, editing your content is key. With the knowledge of what your consumers want and your team’s efforts, editing content can be more seamless than you think.

Build, engage and sustain

Be consistent with your podcasts and don’t get bogged down by fewer listeners in the beginning. Start building followers by sharing your podcasts on various platforms. Spread the news via social media, have friends and family share it and give them updates about the next episode or show. Remember to focus on the topic you are talking about and not you as a person. It’s easy to go on talking about yourself, but it seldom interests listeners.

As the number of followers grows, it’s important to engage with them and occasionally hold contests, giveaways or discounts. Focus on growing your followers not just in the podcast world, but on social media platforms, too. For example, if you are an FMCG brand, you can host frequent AMA sessions on Reddit to connect with potential listeners. On the other hand, if you are trying to build up a database of listeners as an individual, you can resort to Twitter. Furthermore, you can go live on Facebook or Instagram and promote your work whether you are a brand or an influencer. Hold giveaways of sponsorship products and personally engage with your followers to participate. Building followers isn’t difficult, but sustaining the relationship can be tough so invest ample time and energy to get to know their needs and feedback. This strategy also includes sending newsletters to them and giving updates of what’s next.

Furthermore, ensure there’s a dedicated website for the podcast. Include a section containing free and premium content, snippets, media coverage, an ‘about me’ section, contacts, etc. Make it user-friendly and minimal; it’s tempting to add more features but it will take the focus away from the podcast. Post that, brands or podcast artists can resort to leveraging their shows to generate traffic to their website to generate leads and increase sales. This strategy also includes gaining affiliate revenues wherein links of various brands are promoted on the show and the website.

Be wise and monetise

The podcast industry is indeed thriving, brimming with content that has a higher engagement rate than before. In fact, according to last year’s Infinite Dial Report, most podcast listeners listen to 80% of an episode. That is still half the battle won. Monetizing your content takes time and effort, with followers gradually building up and consistent listeners coming on board. Most podcast artists make close to nothing when they initially begin.

Successful podcasters swear by the Virtual Summit technique to monetize their content. A virtual summit is akin to a panel discussion, wherein several personalities are interviewed by a single host. A collaborative effort, this technique can be an efficient marketing tool, especially for business owners. Benefiting in lead generation and product development, virtual summits can result in immediate revenue, a hoard of email subscribers and more engagement.

There isn’t a thumb-rule on monetizing content, especially for podcasts. A large number of podcasters have been offering services that tie in with their content. Similar to our collaboration with Sundaram Mutual. It’s a way of showcasing your expertise while also being hired for the same.

Apart from entertaining a listener and engrossing them with your content, podcasts have proven to be an efficient tool in reaching your target audience and making money if one sticks to consistency. How has your experience been with podcasting? Has it worked for your brand? Do let us know in the comments below.

(The author, Vikas Chawla is Co-founder of the digital marketing agency, Social Beat)

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of exchange4media.com

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