Social Media 106: Introduction to Podcasting

This post is part of the Core Curriculum for the Social Media University, Global Bachelor of Science degree in social media, otherwise known as the SMUG BS degree.

You’ve probably heard of podcasting, but maybe you don’t know why it’s important or what you can do with it.

From a consumer perspective, podcasts are great because they’re like TiVo for audio (and now video.) They let you set your computer to automatically receive the next installment in an audio or video series, to use when it fits your schedule.

Podcasting has the potential to make “appointment” listening a thing of the past. And if you’re reading this on your own computer, you can subscribe to podcasts.

You have several options for so-called “podcatchers” (including RSS readers like Newsgator, NetNewswire and Google Reader), and there also are numerous directories where you can go to find listings of podcasts. If you’re not one of the 100 million or so people who have an iPod, you might want to try one of those alernate podcatchers.

I say alternate because iTunes is a great all-in-one podcast directory and podcatcher, and if you have an iPod you should use it. Even if you don’t have an iPod, you can still download iTunes and use it to listen to podcasts on your computer instead of using a dedicated mp3 player.

So, feel free to try another podcatcher if you’d like; this site has a whole list of them, and you can use it to compare features. But otherwise, to keep it simple, use iTunes.

Podcasting offers great benefits for consumers, and it can be quite useful for producers of content, too. The best part is it enables you to reach people who are interested in what you have to say. You don’t have to limit yourself to a 15-second sound bite that can get in a news story. You don’t have to follow a 30-second or even 60-second format of radio ads that you have to buy.

Your content can be as long as is interesting to the people you want to engage. Longer may be even better than shorter, because you’re aiming to reach a niche. And what’s even better is you can produce and distribute a podcast for nothing. $0.00. Zip.

The next courses in the Podcasting curriculum will get into the mechanics of producing and distributing your own podcast. For now, though, your homework assignments are on the consumer side.


  1. Download and install a podcatcher, either iTunes or one of the alternatives.
  2. If you’re interested in a podcast that is about social media, technology and related topics you read about here, For Immediate Release is a good one. You can get it in iTunes here. Shel Holtz and Neville Hobson, the FIR hosts, also have written a book on the topic, called How to do Everything with Podcasting.
  3. List some of your favorite podcasts in the comments below.

Author: Lee Aase

Husband of one, father of six, grandfather of 15. Chancellor Emeritus, SMUG. Emeritus staff of Mayo Clinic. Founder of HELPcare and Administrator for HELPcare Clinic.

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