Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Podcasting : How To Leave Listener Feedback

Everybody knows the rule about pimping your own blog -- comment on other people's blogs.  Well it seems to be true for podcasts, as well.  If you want people to know about your podcast, you leave listener feedback on other people's podcasts.  But listener feedback is different in some crucial areas:

  • You're not in a context where you can provide me a link to click and bookmark (maybe in the show notes, but not in the audio).  So I either have to remember what you said, or be so interested that I go and check out the show notes.
  • It takes me more time to listen to your feedback than it would have to scan your comment
  • In a text post you can just drop in a .sig file with a link, a title and a catchphrase.  When you're speaking, you have to work it into some sort of context.
  • There is no "skip to next listener feedback" button on a podcast player.

It's this last point that is key to it all.  Nobody reads all of the comments on sites like Slashdot and Digg - there are hundreds.  So, you scan.  It's clearly defined where one comment starts and another ends, and moving from one to the next is as easy as flicking your eyes down the screen an inch.

But with an audio stream like a podcast, there's no way to do that.  From the minute you begin speaking, I as the listener am stuck listening to you.  I have the option of blindly fast forwarding, but without knowing how long you're going to speak, I could be scanning back and forth many times before I do it right.  Maybe MP3 players need a Tivo-like "skip ahead a few seconds" button, like a commercial skip? Hmmmm, that's an idea for a different post....

The only option I've got at my disposal is the "next podcast" button.  Think about what happens if I hit that.  I basically give up on the whole show.  That means that you're not being heard, of course, but it also means that anybody else in that listener feedback section didn't get heard.  Plus it makes the main podcast itself look bad.

Anyway, my point is that you've got my attention when you're speaking, so if you want me to actually remember you, you need show a little "listener courtesy" while you've got the microphone. 

  1. Introduce yourself, that's only polite.  But dear god make it short, huh?  Your plug for yourself shouldn't be longer than your comment.  I don't even really want you plugging anything before I've heard what you have to say, I just want the context of knowing who is speaking.  I heard a podcast recently where a listener commented started with, I kid you not, somebody rambling for a good 30 seconds or more about the book she'd just written.  She described the book, when it was coming out, who she wrote it with, and the audience that would enjoy it.   All this before she'd actually made a comment.  That's just rude, both to me as the listener, but also to your podcast host who has decided to play your feedback.
  2. Say something entertaining.  Add some value.  Don't just spam your link out there.
  3. Try not to be too stale.  If you're only on episode 15 and the podcast is up to episode 20, well guess what, you missed your chance.  Nobody wants to hear your comment on something that happened 2 weeks ago.
  4. Go ahead and put your plug in at the end.  I'm cool with that.  If you said something useful, now is the time when I'll be most open to checking out if you've got any more to say.



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