How Podcasting is Used
Copyright 2005 Sharon Housley
Although podcasting is new, it is well on its way to becoming a mainstream communication medium. Podcasting, simply put, is audio files that are delivered via RSS. Many people believe that podcasting is solely for the distribution of music files, but really, nothing could be further from the truth. This emerging method of audio file distribution has opened an array of marketing and communication opportunities to businesses. Currently, most who are familiar with podcasting are technically savvy, but it is clear that podcasting will be more than a passing fad as many businesses are adopting podcasting and employing it in unusual yet powerful ways. Podcasting can be used for talk shows, tutorials, music demos, educational training, stories, comedy clips, debates or even foreign language tutorials.
While RSS has had the capacity to include audio files for a few years, only recently have entrepreneurs made the conceptual leap, taking advantage of the new power held within this communication medium. In reality, podcasters cover the gamut; some are professional broadcasters, while others are obvious amateurs.
Podcasts are usually published with associated meta information that includes descriptive data about each specific audio file. This allows listeners to make a determination of which audio items are of interest. If listeners are using a news aggregator that supports podcasting, they will automatically receive updates in their feed reader or news aggregation software when a new podcast exists for a feed that they have subscribed to.
Why is podcasting so beneficial to the subscriber?
Unlike traditional radio, with podcasting the subscriber decides what content he/she receives. Podcasting is extremely useful to the subscriber because the user can easily receive information he/she would like, and listen to it when they want. The material, once downloaded, can be listened to and viewed on wireless handhelds, allowing subscribers to utilize time on the road.
Topic-specific radio talk shows with commentaries, interviews and debates can now be heard at a time and place of the listener's choosing. Consider the benefit of educational tutorials and foreign language instruction; lessons could be listened to during a work commute. Supplementary class lectures, step by step tutorials or walking guides are all possible using podcasting. An unlimited collection of books read aloud for elderly or visually-impaired listeners only scratch the surface of what is possible in the future of podcasting.
The fate of podcasting is in the hands of the subscribers. The subscriber can easily delete podcast feeds that do not satisfy their needs with the single tap of a button. Ultimately, the subscriber maintains control and determines what podcasts are deemed successful. This intrinsically builds in a quality control level and will ensure that the more innovative instructional and interesting podcast feeds survive.
The technology is fresh and, like the Internet, is opening doors to entrepreneurs. As podcasting evolves, users will find more creative kinds of audio content to deliver. The low barrier to entry has forced this new medium to the forefront, as businesses and individuals have really little to lose in adding podcasting as a communication channel.