The top ten podcast recordings during 2006, from the Small Business Trends Radio Show, are now posted. I thought this would be a good platform to share our insights on what makes the most popular small business podcast episodes.
First, though, some background: I run a weekly radio program that broadcasts over the WSRadio.com Internet network. The format is an in-depth interview of a small business expert. Most experts we interview end up with 30 to 40 minutes “air” time.
But the live broadcast is just the beginning. Afterwards we load each recorded show on to a website designed to house the audio archives. We then distribute the recordings as podcasts through social media channels, including through sites such as iTunes. Listeners can download the recordings and listen to them on their own schedules.
I partner with Steve Rucinski  on the show and we started in late 2004. Since then we have learned a lot.
One of the things we have learned is that good podcasts have a lasting shelf life. A good episode, with excellent content, will continue to get listeners months later — even years later. Some of the recordings that made our top ten list in 2006 were actually recorded in 2005. If anything, the best recordings become more popular over time, especially once the page they are listed on is indexed in the search engines (we take the time to write a detailed page about each show).
Some of our top episodes have had nearly 10,000 downloads each in their lifetime, NOT counting the live broadcast. All of the top ten for 2006 have had 4-figure downloads, with most of them having 2,000 or more downloads apiece. And still counting.
What makes for popular small-business recordings? It may not be what you think.
For instance, it is not necessarily the “big names” who are the most popular. Nor is it the representatives of “big organizations.” Yes, we have had guests from several large organizations — even Hector Barreto, the former Administrator of the Small Business Administration — but typically those are not our strongest shows.
The most popular small business podcast episodes have three factors in common:
- Narrow Topic — The best topics are narrowly-defined with a descriptive title (a title such as “avoiding the top ten online marketing mistakes” is better than a plain-vanilla title like “marketing insights”). Vague or cutesy-creative titles (such as “putting the oomph back into your oompa”) are the kiss of death because such titles do not tell you within 2 or 3 seconds what a show is all about. Business owners don’t have time to guess.
- Specific How-to Material — The material delivered in the show should be detailed practical information that is not easy to find elsewhere. Specific how-tos are always popular — popular guests spend more time explaining “how” rather than “what” or “why.” Putting information into numbered lists is also effective. Listeners love guests who are capable of crisply delivering information organized in the form of “five tips,” for instance. Remember, listeners are investing considerable time in downloading and listening to a podcast. They expect to end up with advice they can act on to improve their own businesses.
- From-the-Trenches Guest — The most popular guests have been business owners who speak from “been there, done that” experience. What matters most is that you know your subject inside and out. If you happen to have a reputation that precedes you, that helps, but it is hardly the most important factor.
Check out our top ten small-business podcasts in 2006 .