Thought leadership, podcasting and challenging convention
Thought leadership is the ability to influence and engage with others, and share specific knowledge.
Of the many ways to do this, podcasting is a terrific option. In this short article, I’ll explain why I think it should be an important part of your content strategy.
To begin, why should you bother sharing knowledge? Internal knowledge sharing has been lauded by intelligence firms for many years as a key to success. A 2019 Elium post cites this IDC statement: “According to global market intelligence firm, IDC, Fortune 500 companies lose at least $31.5 billion a year by failing to share knowledge.”
There are benefits to sharing knowledge, especially in-house. If you can successfully externalise knowledge sharing so that you’re actively sharing it outside of your company, you can reap different benefits as well. While your organisation runs smoothly from department to department due to great communication and shared knowledge, external sharing enhances your voice in the wider community.
Let’s say you’re a retail expert and you know a thing or two about trends, and you’re selling products and services of your own. By talking about these things and having an opinion, you’re actively sharing your knowledge and creating influence. In short, you’re a thought leader. The gains are often individual, as you'll be seen as a person to connect with and invite to speaker engagements. Your organisation may benefit from increased leads and sales. Let’s look at how content (and podcasting) helps.
Where podcasting comes into its own
The traditional, universally accepted method of sharing knowledge is to write. When we want to learn, we read books. Shorter-form documents such as white papers (research papers) are also great. Even shorter documents such as blogs and published articles are fantastic ways to impart knowledge, and if you’re seriously pushed for time, social posts are better than nothing at all. But we’re not all great writers. In fact, while the outsourcing of thought leadership in written form is likely to increase your leads per month, on average, by a significant 67%, many companies are still not doing it. Why would you not have a blog on your company site in the 21st century?
One of the reasons is because it’s hard. For instance, to boost brand awareness, you should produce many blog posts a week to achieve an uptick in ROI. (Take a look at this HubSpot article for more details.) This is a real commitment, and if you’re not skilled in the art of writing, you won't bother. You may outsource to a content agency instead, which is a good idea, but you have to make sure the agency knows your industry, or at the very least understands what questions to ask.
The same applies for podcasting. It’s easy to get caught up in the technicalities of what’s involved, such as what microphone to purchase, how many, what room to use, publishing frequency and so on. Your initial focus, however, should be on what knowledge you should share on such a different medium. And I think this is where podcasting comes into its own as not just an alternative content source, but a unique one.
If we compare writing with podcasting, there are unique characteristics for both. Writing is considered, patient, detailed, nuanced and packaged in a neat and tidy bow. Podcasting is spontaneous, dynamic, engaging and adept at getting a more accurate tone of voice across. Both are terrific ways to enhance your thought leadership credentials. If you can do both, you’re all set. If you can do only one of these things, let me make the case for a podcast series.
Podcasting isn’t better than writing. It’s just different
First and foremost, I believe multiple content streams work best for a solid content strategy. They naturally feed into one another. Take your hypothetical new podcast series as a prime example, episode one of which was an interview with an expert in your industry. You discussed the ins and outs of a particular subject that’s trending right now, and the chemistry between you was great. From this, you were able to publish a transcript of the interview as a new article on your website, and if the podcast was chock-full of facts and statistics, you may have designed an infographic. On your social media channels, you provided audio snippets of the episode and perhaps pointed people towards your sales funnel to learn more. Best of all, it didn’t take you long to do. Bring on episode two!
According to Andy Crestodina of Orbit Media Studios, “the average blog post takes 3 hours and 57 minutes to write”. That’s a long time. Factor in your writing skills and the potential for hubris to affect whether it’s proofread and edited by a more seasoned writer, and you can see that the quality of your blog posts may not match your extensive knowledge of the subject. Alternatively, with your audio producer or content manager having set everything in place for you, and with a few conversation cues at the ready, all you have to do with a podcast is sit down and have a chat. It’s quicker, it’s energetic and crucially it’s something you can do more often.
As for audience engagement, 43% of readers skim blog posts, while 80% of podcast listeners listen to all or most of each episode.
I am a committed advocate for the power of content to improve how the world sees you and how well your business performs. I’m also a true believer in the underused content channel that is podcasting, because the benefits are so clear. It’s a channel that can augment your knowledge-sharing channels or stand alone as your focused knowledge channel of choice. I guess it depends on the personality of your business and whether it’s full of the right kind of storytellers.
While writing can seem daunting to the thought leaders in your business, podcasting can be easier to entice. Your software engineer may be hamstrung by the technique of writing their thoughts down, but they may come alive when interviewed for your latest podcast episode.
Thought leadership is about challenging convention, being innovative and saying something new. If you want to be seen as a compelling and engaging thought leader in your industry, part of it is being seen to embrace new ways of communicating your ideas. While writing is popular, traditional, tried and tested, it has also fallen – arguably – into cliche, unmercifully mistreated in the hands of algorithms, SEO agencies, and now AI.
Podcasting is all yours to control. Plan it, record it and set it free. You’ll be doing your audience a favour, increasing the potential for your business to succeed, and raising your profile as a significant thought leader in a competitive global marketplace.