It seems like everyone and their dog has a podcast these days. As of this writing, there are over 700,000 active podcasts with more than 29 million episodes! The average podcast listener tunes in to an average of 6.5 hours each week.
Business is the second most popular category, which means podcasts are a great opportunity to engage with new audiences as a brand. But with so much content available, it’s important to consider how you can promote your awesome new podcast to stand out from the crowd.
The golden ticket to viral popularity is still social media, where video is the preferred format. YouTube’s audience alone is 2 billion users and counting, and 43% of monthly podcast listeners say they listened to podcasts on YouTube in the past year. Podcast teams are just starting to realize how they can leverage video to reach new audiences. Luckily the two formats go hand in hand, and it’s easier than ever to record podcast episodes with video.
Vidyard runs three video podcasts and we’ve tested the waters of this uncharted territory through trial and error. So if you’re unsure of how to get your podcast going with video, read on as I unpack our learnings from the last few months, and help you choose the right video podcast format for your business!
3 Questions to Ask Before Starting a Video Podcast
Think a video podcast might be right for you? Before you start, ask yourself the following questions.
1. What is the podcast about?
The first thing to do is identify your niche and stick to it. If you veer off-topic, your audience might get confused or feel left out. It would be pretty confusing if the next episode of “My Favorite Murder” was a review of their favorite pizza place (unless a murder had happened there). An audience will only stay with you if they can rely on consistent content from week to week.
2. Who will host the podcast?
I’m sure you and your friends or co-workers are hilarious, but you also have to have something to offer. For example, on first listen, the 2 Dope Queens podcast sounds like two friends chatting about current issues with cool interviewees, but Phoebe Robinson and Jessica Williams are actually highly experienced comedians with backgrounds in feminist theory. Make sure your hosts match well with your chosen topic if you want your podcast to last!
3. How will you format each episode?
From rom-coms to pop songs to talk shows, every piece of content follows a format in order to present unique information within a familiar structure. No matter what your podcast is about, content is more digestible to an audience if they know what to expect. Choosing the right format will depend on your hosts, topics, resources, and goals.
Video Podcast Formats to Choose From
Now that you’ve figured out your podcast’s direction, it’s time to choose a format that will work well for video and audio both. There are a few popular options to pick from.
The In-Studio Video Podcast
This format features one or more hosts who talk conversationally in the same studio set up each episode. You record the entire episode on video and isolate the audio in post-production for distribution on podcast platforms. This format requires very little editing. Simply upload the footage into your editing program of choice to mix the audio, music, and add in a pre-recorded intro and outro animations. The success of the in-studio format largely depends on the strength of the hosts. They should ideally be equal parts personable and knowledgeable about the subject matter.
In our Video Island Podcast, hosts Blake Smith and Mat King are video production experts, who also happen to be good pals. They field questions about production every day in their roles, so this podcast is their attempt to share that knowledge with the world. They know their stuff, but maybe more importantly, they have a natural ease in their communication. They don’t use a lot of jargon, but manage to keep things moving without dumbing it down.
Pros: This format is quick and dirty. There’s not a lot of finesse required for this one-take conversational podcast so you can produce these quickly and even record multiple episodes at once to build yourself a reserve.
Cons: Only choose this format if you have a lot to say about a specific topic. If you don’t, you risk running out of things to talk about by episode 3. If you think you can carry a podcast talking about what you ate for lunch that day, you’re wrong. Not even Jeff Goldblum could do that. (Okay, maybe he could. But no one else!)
Hot Tip: Keep an ongoing list of topics as they come up and make sure to ask your listeners what they want to hear. This format is extremely personal—take advantage of it!
The Remote Interview Video Podcast
There’s a reason why interview podcasts are so popular. Speaking with a new guest every week offers variety and allows your podcast to cover areas outside of your host’s expertise.
But, depending on where you’re located, it can be hard to schedule and bring in guests to record in the studio. The remote interview format opens the door to a global network of guests and is cheaper and more efficient than booking your guests into Airbnbs. Neil deGrasse Tyson often uses the remote interview format to talk to scientists from across the globe on his video podcast, StarTalk.
This format puts a lot of responsibility on your guests to maintain the quality of your recordings, so be sure to work out technical difficulties in advance. This can range from sending detailed instructions for software that needs to be downloaded to mailing equipment (like a good quality microphone) to your guests in advance.
Pros: Hosting guests remotely allows you to create a high volume of episodes with a great variety of content, without ever leaving your studio!
Cons: Only attempt this format if you have a vast existing network of potential guests. If you don’t, it’s going to be hard to book speakers, especially when you’re just starting out.
Hot Tip: Try adding a border or colorful frame to jazz up your split screen display and make it look more interesting and professional!
To learn more about how to set up for high-quality remote interviews, check out this informative episode of Unmissed Connections. Host Chris Carroll has his remote recording set-up down to a science!
Check out our blog post, The Secret to Filming an Awesome Remote Interview for more in-depth instructions.
The Mixed Footage Video Podcast
This format combines host-delivered knowledge with featured guests to create a narrative around a central theme. It requires more planning and post-production than the previous formats, because it mixes together remote interviews, on-location footage, and B-roll in order to weave together a cohesive story. Just be sure that the cut-aways are not exclusively visual.
When planning our own podcast, Creating Connections, we usually start with an interview and then build out a full story arc around it. For example, in this episode, within our special sub-category “Video in Focus”, guest Fergus Dyer-Smith talks about the strength of storytelling in 1980s ads. We took this opportunity to add in B-roll footage of the ads he mentions, as well as asides where our host Tyler Lessard delves deeper into the concept of creative storytelling and delivers a dramatic impersonation of Marty McFly à la Back to the Future.
Due to the creative nature of the format, there is more than one way to produce mixed footage video podcasts. You might start with a big idea or theme and seek out guests to speak to that topic (that’s what investigative podcasts like Serial do). Or you might do it the other way around, choosing interesting guests and adding supplementary information afterwards to round out the story.
Pros: Using narrative storytelling, as opposed to conversation or interviews alone, can make dense or complicated subject matter more digestible, allowing you to cover more ground in a creative way.
Cons: This format requires more pre- and post-production than the other formats since you’re essentially making a short film. Don’t attempt this podcast if you don’t have the time or resources for lengthy research and editing.
Hot tip: We upload the video versions of our podcasts to Vidyard before pushing to YouTube so we still get Vidyard’s extensive metrics and customizable features.
Whether you choose the in-studio format with your hosts in the limelight, a wide-reaching guest-focused show using remote interviews, or your very own mix for optimal storytelling—once you’ve found the right podcast format, stick to it! Grow your listener base by providing consistent, quality content that your audience can rely on.