By Lee Sykes
I have the pleasure in presenting an email interview with Scott Schecter from Schecter Technology Solutions discussing Podcasting, how it works, the benefits it can bring to your business and Scott's DotNetNuke® Podcasting module, NukeSyndicate.
- Q. Thank you for taking the time to join us Scott, please could you tell the readers about yourself: What is your background with DotNetNuke® and Podcasting?
- A. My name is Scott Schecter I am president of a consulting and development firm located in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. After college my first job was in VB6/VBA development, and from there I moved into .NET development. I have been a .NET developer for about 3 years now. Somewhere around the DotNetNuke 2.X era I began developing applications for the DotNetNuke framework. This has grown at a tremendous pace and currently my consulting firm does the vast majority of its work for businesses targeting the DotNetNuke platform. I also do a lot of xml work for various entities and this is what sparked my interest in Podcasting originally. I just thought it was a very cool implementation of standard RSS 2.0 specification that had far reaching potential to engage users and facilitate communication.
- Q. Can you tell us about Podcasting, what it is and how it works?
- A. Sure, lets turn to the Wikipedia for a brief definition as a starting place:
Podcasting is a means of distributing audio and video programs via the Internet that lets users subscribe to a number of files, also known as a "feed" and then to hear or view the material at the time that they choose. A feed is usually in the MP3 audio format.
Podcasting became initially popular in late 2004, largely due to software that enabled automatic downloading of audio both onto computers with suitable MP3 playback software and mobile devices that could play MP3 files.
"Podcasting" is distinct from other types of online media delivery because of its subscription model. The idea is to provide the material not as a one-time delivery, but rather as a series of files that are delivered because end-users want to get the information regularly over time.
This uses something called a "feed" (such as RSS or Atom) to deliver an enclosed file. Podcasting enables independent producers to create self-published, syndicated "radio shows," and gives broadcast radio programs a new distribution method. Listeners may subscribe to feeds using "podcatching" software (a type of aggregator), which periodically checks for and downloads new content automatically.
The word "Podcast" is often incorrectly used to describe the posting of any link to a media-player-compatible audio file (typically MP3) on a website. Some radio personalities post MP3 versions of their shows daily, and even though they are not part of any subscription model, they are often called podcasts.
Most podcatching software enables the user to copy podcasts to portable music players. Any digital audio player or computer with audio-playing software can play podcasts. From the earliest RSS-enclosure tests, feeds have been used to deliver video files as well as audio. By 2005 some aggregators and mobile devices could receive and play video, but the "podcast" name remained most associated with audio.
"Podcasting" is a portmanteau that combines the words "broadcasting" and "iPod." The term can be misleading since neither podcasting nor listening to podcasts requires an iPod or any portable player, and no broadcasting is involved.
Aware of that misleading association from the beginning, some writers have suggested alternative names or reinterpretations of the letters "p-o-d", without winning much of a following. One little-used alternative is "blogcasting", which implies content based on, or similar in format to, blogs. Another is "audioblogging."
- Q. What content tends to be in a Podcast?
- A. Podcasts tend to be audio or video files, although there are no specific limits on what type of file can be podcasted. Meaning one could podcast documentation, pictures, or even bittorrent files. The only real limitation on the type of medium you are podcasting is whether the users podcast client, commonly referred to as a podcatcher, recognizes those file types and will download them. Different client software supports different file types and some will let you specify which file types it will download.
- Q. How do you find Podcasts that are of interest?
- Q. Do you have any example podcasts that are worth checking out?
- Q. How do you subscribe to a podcast – do you need any specialist software?
- A. You will need a podcatcher that supports the enclosure element of the RSS or Atom specification to download the media file associated with the podcast. The mechanism for subscription depends on the software the publisher is using to publish the podcast. As a general rule though you will see a button on the site that says ‘XML’, or ‘Atom’, or ‘Podcast’ simply click on that button, and when the page opens copy and paste the URL for the feed into your podcast client, and you are done. The podcatcher will then begin to download the podcast for you automatically.
- Q. Is there a demand for podcasts? How many people are using / subscribing to podcasts?
- A. There is a huge demand for podcasts currently, and I only see that growing as more and more businesses tap into the power of the medium and find ways to use podcasting effectively for their business model. Many popular syndication services are now supporting podcasting such as FeedBurner, which allows you to aggregate your existing feed with some additional features such as integration with many popular social services such as del.icio.us and Flickr.
Here are a few stats I found regarding the various indexing sites I mentioned above, this should give you a rough idea of the popularity of the medium:
Podcast Pickle: Number of Podcasts: 3119 Number of Episodes: 35061
PodNova: 12,633 Podcasts
Podcast Alley: Total Podcasts: 8023 Total Episodes: 175093
- Q. What benefits can podcasting bring to a website or business?
- A. The main benefit of creating a podcast is it allows the user to decide if he or she is interested; it then delivers the content you produce on demand to that user. Each time you publish something new it is syndicated to the user with very little action on their part. They need to simply open their podcasting client and the new material is automatically downloaded to their computer.
- Q. How can podcasting help with marketing?
- A. Once a user has subscribed to your podcast they are opting in. This is of tremendous benefit from a marketing perspective because it helps to isolate your target audience. You as the producer need not worry about who is subscribed but only publish the content you wish for them to receive and the podcasting mechanism takes care of the rest.
- Q. How can businesses use podcasts to integrate within their marketing mix?
- A. Podcasts reach a different subset of the market than traditional marketing. So in essence you’re exposing a different group of users that perhaps would be missed by conventional mediums such as email newsletters, or whatever other medium a publisher might employ. So I think it adds a level of diversity to any marketing campaign
- Q. Can you give us some examples of how podcasting can be used?
- A. Podcasting can be used in a variety of ways. Some of the more typical examples would be distributing audio or video to user. So if a company is attempting to sell a product, then one example would be a video demonstration of the product in use. This gives the user a concrete example of the service/product the company is offering.
Another use might be to distribute audio files. For new and upcoming bands this facilitates a low overhead medium to reach new users. The costs to the band is minimum, basically the cost of producing the podcast and the bandwidth used to distribute it. Once a user subscribes it becomes very easy to distribute new material to the user with very little interaction on their part. They need not visit your site again, or check for new material.
- Q. What do you think is the optimum time length for a podcast?
- A. That is really a hard one to give a definitive answer to. It would greatly depend on the target audience. In general the optimum length for a podcast is the maximum amount of time you can keep your listeners interested.
- Q. How can we measure how many people are listening or subscribing to the podcasts?
- A. If you have a stats package on your website, then it will log each request for the feed URL. Additionally, many podcast creating packages offer logging as a part of the software.
Creating a podcast:
- Q. How do you create a podcast?
- A. The first consideration is what type of podcast you are creating. If it is audio or video then you are going to need some equipment to record the podcast and mix it. This can vary from a microphone attached to a pc to a recording studio. Then one would want to consider the software they are going to use to create the actual feed for the podcast. So first, one needs to decide on what type of file you want to podcast. Then, consider the actual process involved in creating this file. Lastly, one would want to decide on how they will publish the podcast.
- Q. Do you have any key tips for creating podcasts?
- A. I think most important thing is to have fun. If your audience can tell that you believe in what you are talking about and are generally excited about it then that will come across in your podcast.
- Q. Are there any considerations we need to make before releasing the podcast?
- A. The main consideration would be the cost of bandwidth. For example, if you have a 10MB show and you expect 6000 listeners will download weekly that would equal a bandwidth total of 240GB per month. So as you can see this can become a factor very quickly.
However, this would be for an established podcast with lots of subscribers, so in general you will have some time to monitor and adjust your bandwidth needs as your podcast grows. Apart from production costs this is really the only cost associated with podcasting. Many sites use advertising to help offset this cost. However, this is definitely something one should consider before publishing a podcast.
- Q. Once you’ve created a podcast how do you promote it?
- A. The best thing you can do is to get listed on one of the podcast indexing sites such as the ones I mentioned above. These sites provide a central location for interested parties to identify your podcast via subject of content, and offer exposure to large numbers of users that are familiar with the podcasting medium.
- Q. How does your module work & how can it help with creating podcasts in DotNetNuke?
- A. NukeSyndicate basically allows a user to enter a few details such as a title, description, image, and file to be podcasted. It then automatically creates a feed from this information. The real beauty here is that a user really only needs to know basic computer skills to fill in the required information, and then NukeSyndicate takes care of the rest.
- Q. How much does your module cost? Is the source code available?
- A. NukeSyndicate is truly free software licensed under the New BSD License. Let me further clarify what that means. It is free as in liberty, meaning that the source is always available and you can redistribute it provided a few minimum criteria are met. Additionally, NukeSyndicate is free as in free beer the cost to the user is zero dollars as well. My hope is that if people find NukeSyndicate useful they will consider donating to help support its continued development.
- Q. How do you think podcasting will develop in the future?
- A. I think podcasting will continue to grow in popularity as the tools to facilitate it improve, and it becomes more recognized. Additionally, I think that podcasting will branch out to mean more than audio or video. Think about all the publishers in the world, and all the different formats they use to transmit to their users. As more and more people understand the capabilities of podcasting I think these formats will become more prevalent.
- Q. Any tips or comments for the readers?
- A. I think the most important thing to consider when creating a podcast is what you hope to achieve. Think about what your desired outcome is when creating your podcast. There is nothing magical about the medium, the same rules that apply to any type of marketing hold true here as well. Podcasting is no marketing silver bullet but it can help diversify your offerings and facilitate better communication between your organization and its customers.