The explosive growth of video as a B2B content marketing tool raises a question: Can audio content, and podcasting in particular, stay relevant?

podcasting

Online audio was here first, of course, and it’s still extremely important today. It was the first practical form of online interactive content; dialup users could access audio files back when online video was a buggy novelty act.

Today, thousands of companies produce podcasts and pre-recorded audio webinars, and DIY production tools like BlogTalkRadio are very familiar to marketers.

Even so, video is now far more prominent today than audio, and that’s very unlikely to change. Our clients, for example, regularly incorporate video into their lead nurturing campaigns; relatively few devote the same attention or resources to podcasting.

One up-and-coming service, SoundCloud, would like to change this. I’m skeptical.

SoundCloud was launched in 2007 as a service to help musicians share and distribute recordings with each other. Since then, it has evolved into a full-service site for uploading, commenting on, sharing and promoting audio content.

The service is still heavily weighted towards musicians. A growing number of news and business publishers, however, use it to distribute content. It’s easy to embed SoundCloud files on web sites or share them via social networks; the service also offers apps for Android and iOS devices.

Paid subscribers get additional hosting space and better analytics, among other premium perks.

There are some interesting features here, and I think there’s room for SoundCloud, or a similar service, in the content marketing mix. It’s potentially a very useful way to share and promote all kinds of audio content, and clever B2B marketers will find ways to take advantage of it.

Yet there’s a tremendous amount of hype around SoundCloud. A recent VentureBeat article, for example, features SoundCloud CEO Alexander Ljung’s claim that “sound will be bigger than video online.” That statement is so detached from reality that it’s hard to accept it even as entrepreneurial self-promotion.

SoundCloud also isn’t appropriate for creating podcasts or other content. You’ll still have to do that yourself, or turn to services like BlogTalkRadio.

My advice for now is to get acquainted with SoundCloud and to consider experimenting with it. Just don’t buy into the hype that SoundCloud is destined to become YouTube for audio content or that audio is poised for a great comeback. Neither of those things is going to happen.

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