Highlights from the State of Business Podcasting Report 2021
Guest post by Megan Dougherty, One Stone Creative
Do you ever feel kind of adrift when it comes to your podcast? Like there isn’t a good measurement for success, or clear benchmarks that tell you when you’re on the right track. You would be far from alone! Podcasting, while massively popular and growing every year as a medium, is still a young industry, and best practices (and use cases!) are still being figured out. But when you’re running a show for your business or company “who knows?” isn’t a usable answer to questions you have about the strategic decisions you need to make.
Being involved and invested in the industry, and working with a lot of company podcasts, I always had pretty good, well-reasoned answers for questions like how often should we release episodes, what assets should I provide to our sponsors, and what is the best style of cover art? But the truth is that I didn’t know for sure.
There is plenty of data out there about the podcast industry as a whole – average download numbers, click through rates, length, and audience size. But there wasn’t much in the way of data specific to business and company podcasts. Because these shows fill specific roles in organizations, they have needs (and opportunities!) that go above and beyond podcasts created for a pure love of the game.
So, we decided to fix that knowledge gap and get some hard data on what the top business podcasts do with their shows, and the State of Business Podcasting report was born in 2020. We’ve recently released the 2021 edition and found answers to some of the most common questions asked by people in organizations who want to see if they are on the right track with their podcasts.
Here are some of the data-driven answers to the most common questions we get about company podcasts:
How often should we be releasing episodes of our business podcast?
The short answer is: as often as possible! Among the top 100 business shows 85% of them released weekly or more often. A weekly show is a big commitment of time and resources, and many companies prefer to start with a less rigorous schedule, releasing every other week, or starting with a single season to test the waters.
If it’s at all possible, releasing every week is going to make it much easier to build traction with your listeners (and keep the pipeline of content to repurpose in other areas of your business full!). One method that 9% of the shows we looked at used was to vary the show type, altering a guest interview, for example with solo episodes, mini-episodes, reviews, action tips – content that is easy to batch that can help you boost your schedule without a huge amount of extra work.
What kind of show notes should we make?
After the episode is recorded come the show notes. This is an area where you can go big, or you can scale back – and the data says you can do pretty much as your heart desires (or your team bandwidth allows).
At a very minimum, from a tech standpoint, you should have a sentence or two describing what the show is about – there should be something that people can quickly scan to see what the episode is about and help them decide whether they should listen to it.
Podcast show notes are one of those areas where if you put a lot in – like detailed highlights, blog-post style description and exploration, and additional resources, you can get a lot out in terms of SEO rich content, and user-friendly materials.
What should be included in a sponsorship for a business podcast?
If your show is sponsored, by your own company, or by another one, you need to make some decisions about what exactly is included in that sponsorship. Some of the options include host-read or dynamically inserted pre-produced ads, links within the show notes, logo placement on show notes pages or the podcast website, and sometimes even the guest themselves!
If you decide that sponsorship is a road you want to go down, but perhaps don’t have the tens of thousands of monthly downloads that makes it hyper-compelling to sponsors, you can think outside the box and provide a variety of different assets to your sponsors, to help them connect with your niche audience.
Should I be using YouTube?
Probably, yes. More and more people are using YouTube as an audio-listening platform – and that isn’t likely to stop any time soon, as they continue to make improvements to their audio-centered interface.
Most of the top 100 shows that use YouTube for their episodes have a live-action version, often with the hosts and their guests in studio. And if you have the video team in place, and guests happy to join you on camera that can be a great option.
It isn’t always a fabulous starting place, however, because looking good on video and sounding good in audio are two different skillsets. If you’re not ready to take the plunge into full-on video production, a combination of slides, audiogram style videos and even still-images as a background* are perfectly fine options – and all things being equal, it’s better to start cultivating a YouTube channel now then wish you had in three or four years. If you think there is any point in the future you are going to want to take advantage of YouTube’s organization and search features, which are superior, start getting your episodes up there now in whatever format you can manage.
*Note: If your podcast uses Podbean for podcast hosting, the platform automatically creates still-image style videos with episode artwork and title for each episode (and we offer both audio and video hosting in our Unlimited Plus and Business hosting plans). We also use and recommend a number of audiogram tools.
Which social media is the best to promote my business podcast?
The very best social media to promote your podcast on is the platform that you and your audience are already using to connect with each other. Following that, you can look at what social media platforms the top 100 shows are integrating and linking to from their websites. Where people decide to direct traffic and seek out engagement is a good measurement for what social platforms are the most powerful in terms of developing and audience and promoting a show, and we can see from our research that the vast majority of shows are looking for people to connect with them on Facebook and Twitter, with significant shows also prioritizing Instagram and YouTube.
If you’re wondering where you should devote your own podcast engagement and promotion efforts, it looks like those are the big 4! (Although LinkedIn should not be ignored if that is where your clients and audience are already spending their time!)
If you have additional questions about what the top 100 shows are doing, you can reach out to the team using any contact form at OneStoneCreative.net or click here for a full copy of the report, as well as our extended analysis including year over year comparison, and action steps.