Blogging vs. Podcasting

Some time ago, Suzanne Lowe published a posting called The Myth of Intellectual Capital.  In it, she commented on a talk by Paul Dunay  , Bearingpoint’s Director of Global Field Marketing.

According to Lowe, Dunay sang the praises of podcasting over blogging, on the grounds that it required less time.

According to Dunay, who then commented, he was merely pointing out the higher return on investment of publicizing content.

Alan Weiss also chimed in, saying “First, it’s blogging, then podcasting, then video, then something else, with each one expected to take over the world.”

But it’s not a he-said she-said thing.  And contrary to Weiss, much more is at stake here than the latest fad and flavor of the day.

There are distinct parts of the human decision making process; and different media drop into different slots in that process. That’s true for old media, and for new as well.

Podcasts are aptly named. Like their cousins “broad-“ and “narrow-“, they are one-to-many media—non-interactive even in audiences of one.
Podcasts are also consumed in very constrained time limits—a 120-second podcast is going to take—approximately—120-seconds for someone to listen to.

Blogs are more interactive—you can hit “comment” right now in response to this blog, and get the instant gratification associated with seeing “you moron Charlie!” pop up and knowing it can be read in Thailand—right now!

We can also read at varying speeds, including—frequently—a whole lot faster than listening.  And the reader controls the speed.

Over to buyers.  Buyers want many many things, and at different times in their decision-making process. Sometimes they want to interact; sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they want information; sometimes they want visual and aural assurance.

If you’re selling to someone with a buying process more complex than getting a #4 at Burger King, you’ll want to match distinct parts of the buyer’s decision-making process with access to distinct media that help the buyer decide.

It’s not a trivial exercise, anymore than is a decision to buy billboards or broadcast TV or newspaper is for an ad agency serving any client.

Politicians are still sorting this out too. Watching on television as sound-bite based politicians “respond” to blown-up computer screens showing YouTube clips is a crazy mash-up.  Enough to make you agree with Alan Weiss that it’s all a popularity contest.

Except it’s not.  Smart politicians—and other sellers—will integrate media, using each for what it’s best at.

Kennedy didn’t beat Nixon just because Nixon looked bad on TV; TV was part of the package.  And people distrust the absence of a coherent package more than any particular package per se.  

0 replies
  1. Alan Weiss
    Alan Weiss says:

    My Google Alerts indicated one of my mentions this morning was here, so I thought I’d find out what was up. I will "chime in" again, as was so inelegantly cited above. The basic problem here is one of people just beating their own favored alternatives to death. These are all solutions in search of problems. Someone becomes enamored of blogs (or whatever), builds a "business" or coaching approach on that passion, and then wears those blinders, demanding that everyone adhere to the faith. If we are talking about consultants who do not yet have a brand, which was the context of my isolated remark above, then they are wasting time and money blogging until they develop that brand. Simple as that. Objectives precede alternatives in a rational universe.

  2. Charlie (Green)
    Charlie (Green) says:

    Welcome Alan; to those who don’t know, Alan’s a respected and successful author, and co-Contributing Editor at with me.  He’s also known for being a "content" guy.

    But in this case I have to differ, Alan.  You’re restating what you said on your original comment–as you put it here, "the basic problem here is just one of people beating their own favored alternatives to death."

    Suzanne Lowe disagreed with that view in her original post; Dunay, in his response, also disagreed with your point.  And I too disagree with it.

    What is your basis for argument, other than repeating the assertion?

    The three of us see meaningful distinctions between blogging and podcasts with respect to IP development, with respect to qualitative impact on client relationships, and with respect to their roles in a marketing mix. 

    I don’t see you addressing those views at all.  Instead, you seem to assert that the hot air surrounding new media is  content-free, driven by egos and volume levels. 

    I  completely agree with you about the hot air and egos–but that doesn’t mean there’s no meaningful difference between podcasts and blogs.  Which is the point the rest of us were talking about.

    In your original comment, you suggested when all the huffing and puffing was over, things would average out somewhere in the middle.  I have no idea what the "middle" is between written and oral, or between broadcast (one-way) and dialogue  (both ways).  If your point is about popularity, it’s a point unrelated to the rest of the discussion.  It’s a non sequitur.

    Finally, I’m flummoxed by your statement that your original comment was  in the context of  "consultants who do not yet have a brand."  Your comment was in the context of a blog post about BearingPoint, which I think hardly fits that category.


  3. Shaula Evans
    Shaula Evans says:

    Is there room in the middle for me to agree, partly, with both of you?

    There is clearly a LOT of hot air around the benefits of social media tools. 

    What I understood from Alan’s comment — and forgive me if I’m off base here, Alan — is that blogs, podcasts, etc, are presented as magic bullets for your practice or brand — and they’re not. (I.e., I’m agreeing with Alan.)

    I have a big problem that a lot of the people "talking up" social media are NOT acting like trusted advisors — they get all hyped up about the flavour of the week, whether it’s blogging, podcasting, Second Life, or Twitter, in a race to jump on the latest bandwagon built by the web2.0 cool kids.  But their agendas seem to be more about promoting themselves as cool kids and gurus, and less about providing measured advice or actual value to their clients.

    The reality of all of these new self-publishing tools is that they are content-driven, and to make them work you need to produce a steady stream of quality content that provides value to your audience.  You also need to learn the culture and standards and expectations that go with the communities around these tools, as much as if you were starting a business venture in a new country.

    So it is a big time and resource commitment, you have to learn, you have to be culturally flexible, and you have to put your clients (/customers / audience) first.  That sounds like way too much work to be a magic bullet.  In fact, it sounds a lot like good business practices and earning and building trust the "old fashioned" way, just using new tools.

    But somehow, the discussion of social media tools is very rarely framed that way.

    So Charlie, I agree that blogging, podcasts, etc. have the potential to be powerful communication tools, and that they need to be integrated into your coherent messaging and marketing strategy — and also that they need to hit the same quality standards and be approached with the same level of professionalism.  (hmmm)  And that’s why organizations that aren’t prepared to do social media well are smart to stay away than to do it really poorly — any more than you’d want to run amateur billboards or a pathetic tv ad.


  4. Suzanne Lowe
    Suzanne Lowe says:

    Charlie, Shaula, Alan:  thank you all for helping all blog readers to further shape their thoughts about blogs and podcasts, and other rapidly emerging social media.  As I’ve been away on vacation and business travel, my brain feels a little rusty for what I recognize is another step in the intellectual advancement of thought on this very important topic.

    Shaula, you DID say it well, in the final paragraph of your post.  Indeed, "integrated" is the name of the game.   

    But rather than continuing a debate about versus podcasting, I’m interested in hearing more about the role of Trust in how buyers make buying decisions.

     Charlie, I wonder if you’d consider making further comments on the final sentence of your own original blog post:  "And people distrust the absence of a coherent package more than any particular package per se. "  

    I’m particularly intrigued by your words "distrust the absence of a coherent package."  I assume the emphasis is on "coherent." 

    You’ve said previously that "buyers want different things" and that (sellers) must "match distinct parts of the buyer’s decision-making process with access to distinct media that help the buyer decide." 

    I’d love to hear you say more (if you haven’t elsewhere, that is) about how Trust is impacted by this media-matchmaking process. 


  5. Charlie (Green)
    Charlie (Green) says:

    Suzanne, thanks for those added thoughts.

    My thinking on the "coherent package" concept is pretty simple, if not simplistic.  It is simply that the more dimensions of a person, situation, issue we can be aware of, the more comfortable we are assessing that person, situation or issue.

    If I’m buying a computer, I like having impersonal at-my-leisure online asynchronous data so I can educate myself at my own pace without someone trying to sell me.  Having done that, I may want the equivalent of the salesperson (hopefully a click away, digitally or aurally) to answer questions or provide judgment.

    To complete the Nixon example, I don’t think it’s that he had a 6 o’clock shadow, it’s just that until people saw him on TV they wouldn’t have guessed it.  As people came to know Nixon better later, that was simply part of his persona–people could vote for him knowing full well he wasn’t a polished Kennedy type, because they knew him as a package.

    Related concept–we prefer "the devil we know to the one we don’t."

    Having multiple media gives the buyer the equivalent of 3-D glasses–it’s one thing to read writings, it’s another to hear a podcast, it’s yet another to talk interactively, and still another to see video.

    One of the smartest (albeit unintentional, as I understand it) things the legal profession in the US has done is to require online photos.  Anyone  in the speaking business who added video to their website probably has many testimonials from people who say, "I thought maybe I’d call, but having seen the video, it was so much easier, now I feel like I know you."

    There is a such thing as TMI; but for a great many buying decisions, you don’t get to "too much information" via one dimension alone.  However much it takes to make a coherent package is the right amount.


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