The The U.S. Small Business Administration is the latest organization jumping on the podcasting trend — but is it really “podcasting” as that term is defined?
I wrote about it over at my BNET column, Selling to Small Business. On the one hand, the SBA is to be commended for offering podcasts, but on the other hand the SBA’s implementation of podcasting needs a bit of improvement. You can learn these do’s and dont’s about podcasting from the SBA’s example:
- DON’T forget to offer your audio recordings in MP3 format. The SBA is offering some of their recordings only in a WMV or WMA format, not MP3. MP3 has become the lingua franca of the audio world. WMV and WMA are Windows file formats, and not everyone is on Windows. iPods require specified audio formats for the audio file, and that does not include WMV or WMA. Although some MP3 players support WMA and WMV files, others require that the file format first be converted to MP3. That’s not an insurmountable task, but it is an extra technical step and just enough hassle to cause people not to bother. Bottom line: make sure you offer the most widely-usable audio file format: MP3.
- DO offer a transcript of the recording, or at the very least offer some text that hits the highlights of the audio recording. Podcasts are invaluable for when people are away from the office and have some time they want to fill with audio: when out running or working out; when outside gardening; while waiting in a doctor’s office or at the BMV line; when on a plane or at the airport; when driving long distances in the car between customer sites. However, at other times you just want to read. The SBA is also offering a transcript of the recording, for those who wish to simply read the content. Great idea!
- DON’T forget to offer an RSS feed in which your podcasts are enclosed. That’s the true definition of a podcast: an audio file enclosed in an RSS feed, so that readers can subscribe to the podcast series and automatically download new recordings via their feedreader or podcatcher program. If you do not have an RSS feed for your podcasts, you are overlooking an important marketing aspect of podcasts, and an important convenience benefit for the user.