By Nicki Kamau
Blogging began as digital journaling in the late 1990s, with everyone and their mother wrote about everything from traveling on a budget to five-ingredient recipes to DIY home decorating. But over the years, blogging has turned into one of the leading ways for organizations to share ideas, become the industry information leaders of their respective industries, and earn the trust of current and future clients.
Around 2004, a new beast entered the ring that goes by the name of podcasting—a free open mic medium that allows users to access digital audio files from the internet, download them to their computer or mobile device, and listen at their leisure. Typically, podcasts come in a series and offer subscriptions.
Podcasts are growing in popularity and consumption. According to Statista, there are currently 86 million podcast listeners in the U.S., a number which is projected to grow to 132 million by 2022. In addition, 32 percent of the population have listened to a podcast in the past month, up from 9 percent in 2008.
As a marketing professional, you may be asking yourself which is better: blogging or podcasting?
Here’s what you should know.
Blogging vs. Podcasting: The Benefits and Downfalls
Podcasting is still in its infancy when it comes to analytics and closed-loop marketing. Its limitations include:
- Limits to searchability (SEO)
- Inability to provide links or calls to action
- No way to skim content for salient information
- Rudimentary analytics that don’t offer much insight
- No natural opportunity for lead generation
Because of this, blogging has some definite advantages over podcasting, such as:
- No special equipment needed (with sites like HubSpot, Medium, and Squarespace, you can have a blog up and running in minutes)
- Easily optimized for search
- Gives readers control over their content consumption experience (content is easy to skim)
Don’t take this as a suggestion to abandon podcasting and stick to only blogging—there are valuable aspects of podcasting that you simply can’t get by publishing blog articles.
4 Advantages of Podcasting
1. Podcasts Offer a Human Connection
Podcasting is, undeniably, the best way to give your audience a sense of your brand (and host’s) personality, which can be difficult to communicate through words typed on a screen. Podcasting can easily communicate the rhythm, pace, and tone of your brand voice to connect with your audience on a human level. The only way to connect more intimately would be to provide a visual layer to the connection by adding video.
Take Shopify’s podcast, Shopify Masters, a branded e-commerce podcast aimed at entrepreneurs considering the Shopify platform. Through interviews, talks about pop culture, and the sharing of fast-paced stories, Shopify is able to display its witty, down-to-earth personality to current and potential clients, something that could not be done with just a blog.
2. Provide Firsthand Information from Trustworthy Sources
Podcasts give organizations the opportunity to provide firsthand, real-time information from reliable and trustworthy sources. Take, for example, Modern Babies, a podcast run by the fertility clinic Genea. Through the use of interviews with fertility experts, they’re able to explain the process of infertility treatment options, what a family can expect to experience, and give expert advice on the entire process.
This type of content builds credibility and trust with a less cumbersome process than interviewing and writing content based on the interview. Once the podcast is live and being consumed, you can then expand its reach by creating content for social media and repurposing the podcast into a blog article.
3. Listening to Podcasts and Multitasking
When was the last time you sat down with your headphones on and listened to music for 30 minutes straight without doing anything else? Possibly never. The same goes for podcasts. Generally speaking, people are doing something else when they’re listening. And while your audience is driving home, walking their dog, grocery shopping, they can be listening to your podcast. Unlike videos or blogs, the advantage of podcasts is that they do not require the visual attention of the audience.
4. Podcasts Allow More Time with Your Content
You have a lot to say, and as the expert marketer that you are, you know that people don’t have the patience for long-form content and will often skim most of it, possibly missing out on valuable information. According to HubSpot research, 41 percent of people admitted to skimming blog content in 2018. (This isn’t to say long-form content is out the door—there are very real benefits of long-form content, such as generating nine times more leads and spending increased time on websites.)
So we have an idea of reading behaviors, but what about time spent listening to a podcast? The numbers may surprise you. According to Edison Research:
- 80 percent of podcast listeners listen to the entire podcast.
- Podcast listeners listen to an average of seven different podcasts per week.
- Weekly podcast listeners spend on average six hours and 37 minutes per week listening to podcasts.
Compare all of the above to the simple fact that the average reader spends a mere 37 seconds on a blog post. (Frustrated by this? Take some tips from a fellow SmartBug to learn “6 Writing Tricks to Combat Short Attention Spans”.)
Blogging vs. Podcasting: Playing to Your Strengths
We bet you started reading this article thinking we’d have a sure-fire answer to the question, should I blog, or should I podcast? The truth is, each complements the other’s weaknesses. Although SEO for podcasting is slowly catching up (Google, just last month, added playable podcasts to search results), it will still take some time before podcasts are fully optimized for search. As it stands today, there are protocols you need to follow to show up in search, such as a dedicated podcast website.
It goes without saying that any marketing strategy should be a conglomerate of several platforms. Not just blogging or podcasting or a website or social—but a combination of all available avenues to create a well-rounded, marketing strategy.
First and foremost, identify how your buyer personas like to consume content. If they read articles online and listen to podcasts, it’s time to move on to the next step: Identify what your team’s strengths and weaknesses are.
If you have a great editorial team, then by all means—blog. If you have a smooth-talking personality on staff who’s passionate about your product or service, make a podcast. Play to your strengths as an organization, and outsource what you can’t give 100 percent effort to on your own.
If you are creating content that is honest, valuable, and resonant, on a platform where your buyer personas live, you can’t go wrong.