Should Your Business Have a Podcast? With a low barrier to entry, podcasting may be a way to establish expertise.

By Lindsay LaVine

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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Your business probably has a website, Twitter account and Facebook page, but does it need a podcast? Consumers enjoy podcasts because it gives them alternative and more convenient ways to consume content, says Deborah Shane, a Florida-based branding expert and podcast host.

She says that more professionals are using podcasts as a marketing tool to establish expertise and distinguish themselves from the competition. Shane's Metropolis Radio business podcast has featured more than 350 guests and has been downloaded 245,000 times in the last four years. The 15 to 30 minute segments consist of interviews with expert guests on topics such as branding, social media, and entrepreneurship. "Podcasting has opened up more doors than just about any platform I've used," Shane says. By inviting experts as guests on her show, she's networking, building credibility, and making professional connections.

Related: 4 Things You Need to be Doing on Social Media

But podcasting is a time commitment. Shane suggests waiting a month before you start promoting your podcast. Use that time to create visual branding for your site, think about the content you'll provide, the show's format, how frequently you'll record the podcast and which guests you'll invite on the show, etc.

Shane recommends using BlogTalkRadio, which offers a free, turnkey solution to record your show and link it to iTunes, Facebook and Twitter. Once a show is scheduled through BlogTalkRadio, the host and their guest(s) call a special number and are patched through to a "studio" dashboard that the host controls on his or her computer where he or she can take calls live or interview through the switchboard.

The show is recorded live and archived as a podcast, where it's made available on iTunes and can be shared on social networks or blogs. Editing is not available with the free version, but premium paid levels (which range from $39-$249 a month) allow users to edit their shows.

Here are six things to consider before starting a podcast:

1. Choose your format. Shane uses a late night talk show format and discusses talking points with her guests beforehand, but allows the conversation to evolve on the show. Another popular format is giving a tutorial or lecture on a topic relevant to your business that many people have questions about.

2. Record a podcast at least once a week. You want to listeners to know when to expect new content. While "live listeners" (people listening to the show as it airs) are great, Shane says the goal is to increase the number of downloads your podcast receives once it's posted.

3. Find guests with energy. Your guest may be brilliant in their field, but you want someone who's interesting and with whom you can have a good conversation. Shane suggests reaching out to experts in your field who have written a book or have a lot of Twitter followers, so they can promote their appearance on your show. The appearance is mutually beneficial, as they are gaining credibility as an expert, and you're building an audience and area of expertise.

"Great guests are actively marketing on their own social media platforms. They have energy, articulate well and know how to tell their story," Shane says.

4. Practice. Do two or three practice shows to get the feel for podcasting. Shane recommends recording a few test shows and posting them on your site to become comfortable with the process before promoting the podcast. You can set the show as "test" or "private" when scheduling your podcast.

5. Promote your podcast consistently. Use your other social media platforms, blog, website, etc. to promote your podcast before, during, and after the show has been recorded. BlogTalkRadio allows you to post updates automatically to your Facebook and Twitter accounts.

6. Get ideas from the competition. Visit podcast.com or iTunes to see how other businesses are using podcasts to promote themselves.

Related: 3 Ways to Turn Social Media Followers Into Promoters of Your Brand

Lindsay LaVine is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has worked for NBC and CNN.

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