Whether you are interested in promoting your business, sharing music or simply connecting with friends, you will find that there are many exciting uses for podcasting.
What Is Podcasting?
Podcasting is one of the latest cutting-edge functionalities of Web 2.0. A podcast is an online audio file which is stored in a compressed digital format and delivered through an RSS feed. In fact, the podcast concept was created by David Winer, who was involved in developing RSS software. While the name podcast implies that it should be listened to through Apple's iPod music player, podcasts are not limited to iPods. Podcasts can be played through a number of listening devices, including your own computer.
What Are the Advantages of Podcasting?
Podcasts have some distinct advantages over basic web content. These include:
- Convenience: While an article on a computer website needs to be read, you can listen to a podcast while driving, hiking, jogging, working out or performing other activities. Additionally, while you need to tune into a radio show at a specific time, you can download a podcast file, and store it until you're ready to play it.
- Personality: Podcasts also add a personal touch to information sharing. Often, certain types of online information can be misinterpreted, because you obviously can't hear the intonations in the writer's voice. In contrast, on a podcast, the announcer can emphasize specific words and phrases, and speak in a manner that lets the listener know what is said seriously, and what is meant to be jest.
- Increases a website's visibility: You can list your business podcasts in an online podcast directory, which will make it easier for visitors to discover your site.
Exploring the Uses for Podcasting
Podcasting is definitely an idea whose time has come. As such, many industries are now using it as a means of communicating with potential clients. Given their convenience and effectiveness, a number of companies are now using podcasts to improve communication with potential customers. Here are some of the industries that have embraced the podcast concept.
Podcasting in the Travel Industry
The "what are we going to do with the guidebook?" question is an age-old issue for travelers. Sure, it's great to know where you're going, but sometimes, the idea of carrying a big guidebook in an already over-stuffed bag is less than appealing. Enter the travel podcast. Many travel-related companies are now offering travel podcasts, which can be downloaded to hand-held computers, iPods, cell phones and other listening devices. Here are a few of them:
- Orbitzinsider: Online travel agency Orbitz has developed an innovative use of the podcast. They feature humorous, irreverent podcasts about various vacation destinations.
- Visual Travel Tours: Visual travel tours has taken the podcast concept one step further, by adding photos to the podcast tour. The tours are created by locals, and can be downloaded to a variety of listening devices.
- Breckenridge Heritage Alliance: The Breckenridge Heritage Alliance is a non-profit organization, which is located in Breckenridge, Colorado. The organization offers a variety of walking and museum tours of the Victorian town of Breckenridge. However, as a non-profit organization, they face a number of significant challenges. Since funds are limited, it was financially unfeasible to hire tour guides for more than a few hours each week. Furthermore, producing a series of free walking tour maps proved to be expensive. Since the alliance relies heavily on visitor donations, they needed to find ways to bring visitors to their sites - so they decided to create a podcast cell phone tour. Visitors are given a number to call on their cell phones, where they will hear a podcast tour of the area.
Podcasting in the Music Industry
In many ways, Napster can be considered the precursor of the musical podcast. Today, many musicians use podcasts as a means of sharing their music with the general public.
Educational Uses for Podcasting
Many organizations now use podcasting for educational purposes. For example, Epicksi, a popular message forum that hosts an annual ski clinic, has a series of podcasts that feature interviews with famous ski experts. A number of online learning and certification programs offer podcasts as a means of allowing students to learn and study at their leisure, and audio conferences are also becoming popular since they allow people to attend conferences without incurring heavy travel expenses.