Social Media: Spotlight on Podcasts

TV is the most popular form of media. As much as we all might complain about its quality, we still find ourselves drawn to that warm, antiseptic glow of that entertainment box. As such, radio, which was popular with the previous generation, has begun to lose its luster. We enjoy music, but radio, especially the radio show, seems to be declining.

From the ashes of the radio show rises a new form of social media: podcasts. Podcasting is gaining plenty of popularity, so it’s a good idea to know some of the basics surrounding the medium.

About Podcasts

A combination of the words “iPod” and “broadcast,” podcasts are a type of episodic digital media that users can subscribe to and download through web syndication. They generally take the form of audio, though video podcasts and slide shows have also been used.

Originally, podcasting was an arena reserved for the techie demographic, but it soon caught on with the general public. Content in podcasts now ranges from music to magic to sports to popular culture and beyond.

Podcasts and Social Media

Podcasts came at a time when social media was beginning to make major headway as a viable online tool. Social media, which most people broadly understand as fancy, web 2.0 terminology related to Twitter and Facebook, is a means of opening up the lines of communication and interaction between a person, brand, or organization and its audience, fans, or followers.

Podcasts allow for a broader interaction with audiences, due in part to syndication feeds. Feeds give users the ability to download podcasts upon release and to listen to them on a variety of devices, whenever they want. This is contrary to radio, in which listeners have to “tune in” at a specific time and date.

In most cases, podcast producers become consumers and the consumers become producers and thus engage in conversations with each other. Podcasting calls for active listening and participation.

Freedom and Content

In a lot of ways, podcasting is much more empowering to both listeners and podcasters. For listeners, being able to listen to a podcast on just about any digital media device at any time is much more freeing than waiting for (or missing) a radio show.

The great thing about podcasts is that pretty much anyone with a microphone and a computer can participate. Podcasting doesn’t have the restrictions of radio, which is often seen as a gate-kept media that requires high production values and tools.

Podcasts have become a unique way to share content, and with the broad audiences, lack of restrictions, and ease of application, podcasting is sure to become a major form of media, quite literally giving the average listener a voice to be heard.

Tarik Sansal

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