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Newsfeeds & Podcasts

Broadcast your news to a listening audience!

Modern technology is providing us with almost limitless opportunities to communicate with our customers. Even techniques that were once regarded as completely 'consumer' orientated.

Of course, a dry B2B newscast will attract fewer downloads, but the value you can provide to customers outweigh any B2C comparisons.

Fashionable communications for businesses

The iPod has become a must-have fashion accessory, and you can now sit on rush-hour trains and see many suited iPod owners. Many will, of course be listening to their music collection, but increasingly you will find them listening to podcasts.

If you haven't already done so, take a look at the podcasts available - in iTunes it is a separate selection, from which you can choose from a large number of categories. In business terms, the largest choice can be found in the technology areas.

So how can you use these to your advantage? If you have a charismatic speaker in your organisation, you could use them to provide regular updates. If you run workshops or presentations, you could record them.

Everyone is now getting on the bandwagon. Irrespective of your politics, it is worth looking at what the Conservative Party are doing in this area. They have embraced and led the technology for political parties with their WebCameron website (www.webcameron.org.uk) using video "blogs" with the leader and members of the party. It started off with some ridicule, but someone like David Cameron can offer many "soundbites" and interviews to keep the site up-to-date and fresh.

Business news to the masses

If your broadcast options to customers are limited, you could use your broadcast internally to educate technical or sales staff. New product demonstrations, competitor evaluations, etc, would all benefit your company, and your staff.

One factor that you find consistently in modern life is that user manuals are huge, encyclopaedic volumes, written in inaccessible legalise, and most people actually want to have a demonstration of use, rather than reading the manual. Why not replace a PDF user manual with a video manual (as a download, CD/DVD or on a USB memory stick) – at least for Troubleshooting or Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's). This would be a benefit for staff and for most customers.

Make use of the time your customers spend on the train or in the car by offering an audio blog. Just like David Cameron, you could also use a video blog to pass on your information, potentially recording it as part of a regular interview and information policy.

Feed your news

You can provide simple newsfeeds to your customer base from Blogs (web diaries), news items or press releases. In doing this, interested customers can sign up to receive news when it is released. If you do this, please make sure that the 'news' is newsworthy - there are too many stories that leave readers bored, bewildered, or just completely turned off.

Signing up to provide newsfeeds is not onerous, and if your feed is irregular, you do not get penalised, though your customers may not remain loyal to your message if they have to wait too long between feeds. All too many blogs are irregularly updated, and therefore lose any customer loyalty – I know, my own blog (Technothom) is one that I struggle to update, but I don't rely on it for my business, as a result. Well-written, regular feeds will attract customers.

RSS Newsfeeds

Rich Site Summary or RSS is a format for syndicating web content. A website that wants to allow other sites to publish some of its content creates an RSS document and registers the document with an RSS publisher. A user that can read RSS-distributed content can use the content on a different site. Syndicated content includes such data as news feeds, events listings, news stories, headlines, project updates, excerpts from discussion forums or even corporate information (definition from www.webopedia.com).

Newsfeeds from blogs are easily drawn into other websites, extending the reach of your message. Up-to-date news will allow other websites to keep their information fresh, and drive additional traffic to your own website. The fact that more traffic goes to your website will then help with your search engine listings, as well as pushing your message to your public. There are many sites that allow you to subscribe to newsfeeds, the BBC being just one, and they also explain it very well – visit news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/help/3223484.stm.

About the author

Thom Poole is a Chartered Marketer with the Chartered Institute of Marketing, and a member of the Marketing Society. A marketer with over 16 years experience in online marketing and web strategy, Thom is strategic e-marketing consultant for Jack Marketing Solutions, working with SMEs. He also teaches people web design from beginners to professionals, as well as CRM, eCommerce, etc., and is a lecturer for Birkbeck College – University of London. A regular speaker on the CRM and e-marketing event circuit, Thom has also written a book on ethical e-marketing, called 'Play It By Trust'. The book is available at the publishers as a hardback or download.

For more details visit www.jack-marketing.com

Article first published - Daily Telegraph Business Club (September 2006)

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