Opinions on Audio vs. Written Content Are Changing


I use Feedly to follow a lot of my favorite bloggers* (sorry, WordPress – your reader is nice too), and I save posts that I want to revisit in the future. Today’s topic is based on one of those saved posts from our smart friends at Copyblogger: Is Podcasting Replacing Written Content?

Obviously the headline overstates the issue on purpose, but there is no question that the balance of audio vs. written content is a hot topic right now. There is SO MUCH content available at our fingertips each day – most people I know have started embracing at least some audio content as a way to consume information. Some people listen to industry-related podcasts on their way to work and then read fiction in the evenings. Others read for work and listen to sports or comedy podcasts for fun. My husband and I do a big mix of both.

Pamela Wilson is Executive Vice President of Educational Content at Copyblogger Media and she wrote Is Podcasting Replacing Written Content? to respond to the sharp increase in questions they received following the launch of Rainmaker.FM, Copyblogger’s relatively young podcasting network (worth checking out BTW).

I think her assessment is dead on – there is absolutely space for both audio content and written content in our lives. The improvement of handheld devices just makes it that much easier for us to consume audio content, so marketers need to (very quickly) get smarter about creating it. Some content is great for audio – enabling users to listen while they do other things, like commute or workout. Other content shines when paired with an informative graphic, checklist, or other visual element.

I am really looking forward to new research in this area, particularly around podcasting. In the interest of science, here is my strictly personal hypothesis on what makes a strong podcast:

A comfortable length – I read somewhere that the average commute is only eight minutes long, so you should keep your podcasts under ten minutes. I completely disagree. The average workout has to be between 20-60 minutes – a perfect amount of time to get into a good interview discussion, while still allowing your audience to listen to the entire episode in one or two sittings.

More than one voice – The podcasts that really draw me in tend to be interviews or discussions between two or more people. Think well-produced NPR radio program vs. a guy sitting alone in his basement.

Consistency – Just like blogging, successful podcasts center around a consistent topic, are released at regular intervals, and have a consistent format.

Opinions? Research to share? Please comment below or tweet me @RachelLColello.

* Semi-related: I am still suffering the loss of Google Reader – has anyone found a replacement that they really love?


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