Your audience doesn’t care about you. They care about themselves. What are you going to give them? – podcast

on August 27, 2008

Episode nine of the “Be the Voice” podcast stars online media mogul Susan Bratton, co-founder and CEO of Personal Life Media.

Summary (Susan Bratton):

  • Podcast production: deliver exactly the same format consistently gives listeners the comfort that you’re there for them.
  • Have an individual in mind (ideally a thought leader) when you’re asking questions during your show.
  • Personal Life Media’s network of 25 programs have taken off thanks to the network effect which we all know by the other name of social media.
  • Don’t be afraid to approach someone yourself if you think you’re the ideal candidate.
  • Ad agencies need to follow UGC, not try to control it, and encourage engagement.
  • Your audience doesn’t care about you. They care about themselves. What are you going to give them?
  • Bloggers are not journalists, but some are. Proceed with caution.

Full article:

DishyMixSusan Bratton is the co-founder and CEO of Personal Life Media, a podcast and blog publishing company that produces 25 weekly programs on the subjects of personal growth, relationships, longevity, and spirituality. One of those programs, DishyMix, hosted by Bratton herself, is a series of one-on-one interviews with leading members of the digerati. With each interview Bratton hopes to find out what these thought leaders are doing that makes them so special and what can her and her listeners do to copy their behavior?

Susan BrattonI just figured out how to produce my own show, now I have to figure it out for everyone else too?

DishyMix is just one of dozens of programs that make up the Personal Life Media brand. To build the brand’s editorial, Bratton sought out top notch voices that fit under her editorial umbrella of “personal life media,” and taught them how to podcast. Using a “MadLibs production format” as Bratton called it, she rattled off a “how to” list that was obvious she has said many times before. Bratton explained her production formula for a great Personal Life Media podcast.

  1. Introduce yourself, the show, and your guest
  2. Explain who your guest is and why they were invited to be on the show.
  3. Go over the top things you’re going to cover.
  4. Play the show intro with music bed.
  5. After the show is edited, put highlights of that show immediately after the intro with music, so the audience knows what they’re going to hear.
  6. Once again tell the audience what you’re going to talk about so they know what you’re going to deliver.
  7. Do the show.
  8. Have a break.
  9. Wrap it up and say thanks.

“I do that exact same format every single week so my listeners know what I’m going to deliver for them,” said Bratton, “I think that consistency of always delivering in exactly the same format gives the listeners the comfort that you’re there for them.”

If you’re not of interest to other thought leaders, then you can’t be a thought leader yourself

Those are just the mechanics of producing a show. To deliver great content you have to keep the individual listener in mind. Its best to think of a real person you know that would be the ideal audience for your podcast. For Bratton’s DishyMix show which is filled often with social media thought leaders, she speaks to Andy Sernovitz, author of “The Word of Mouth Marketing” book, and a leader in conversational media. Andy becomes the representative audience member that she thinks about when she does her show. It’s something she didn’t believe Andy knew…until now. :)

The reason she picks a person like Sernovitz is because he’s a though leader in the same space for which she’s interviewing others. As she’s preparing and interviewing a guest, she always thinks about Andy. Would Andy find this interesting? Is this the kind of information that would help Andy’s business? “It just gives me someone to talk to and think about so that my thoughts are collected at a pretty senior level when I’m doing my show which is my intent,” said Bratton.

Personal Life MediaBuilding an online media network allows you to take advantage of “the network effect.” Remember that? It’s also called social media.

Podcasting for Bratton is “The Global Microphone.” For Personal Life Media, “[It’s] an ability to connect with an audience on a weekly basis and take them through a process of self empowerment in any given category. Whether it was your relationship or your weight or your body image or whatever it might be,” said Bratton.

Each host has their audio show, their blog, and their community. And they make money through advertising and given the similar nature of their media, sponsors will typically sponsor a minimum of five up to all of the shows across Personal Life Media. No one show makes or breaks the network, but each one helps each other grow because they actually like each other, enjoy being part of the Personal Life Media community, and cross-promote each other’s programming. As a result, in just a little over a year, Personal Life Media’s entire 25 program network has between 400,000 – 500,000 listeners, with each show having a listenership somewhere between 2,000 to 80,000, said Bratton.

Bratton understands how important it is to hold on to those listeners and nurture those relationships. That’s why the hosts of the shows also have blogs and contact information so they can engage with their listeners. Bratton is in the process of building out a community site for Personal Life Media and they just began offering a widget from Gigya that allows listeners who have blogs or profile pages on social networks to put the audio playing widget on their site so that they and their visitors can listen to the show in their own online space.

Susan Bratton isn’t scared of David Spark

I’m thrilled that Susan Bratton introduced herself to me for the Be the Voice podcast. She found my content online, realized that she would be an appropriate interview, and offered herself as a potential interview including a bio to show that she is in fact a leading voice for her market. I was so impressed by her approach and then I realized during our interview, this was far from the first time she’s introduced herself as being perfect for the job. In fact, that’s how she became a member of the board at Ad:tech.

Attending the Ad:tech conference back in 1996, Bratton was enthralled. She walked up to the founder and said, “I love this and I have ten ideas for you.” His response was, “You’re going to be on my board.” Since that first meeting Bratton’s programmed many worldwide events for Ad:tech and is still chair emeritus today.

How to deal with the ad agency question of “How many people am I going to reach and how much is it going to cost me?”

Given Bratton’s background in advertising, I asked her a question that always made pitching to ad agencies difficult for me. Ad agencies boil down everything to “How many people am I going to reach and how much is it going to cost me?” Because that’s how they buy media, in known quantities. When you’re dealing with an organization that knows its audience and its size, like a TV network or magazine, then you can answer that question. But the realm of social media doesn’t allow you to answer that question.

Bratton split her answer into two parts, first discussing user generated content where you don’t have control of the audience’s take on your brand, yet you still need to keep an ear to what people are saying. She recommended Andy Beal’s book, Radically Transparent and Pete Blackshaw’s book, Satisfied Customers Tell Three Friends, Angry Customers Tell 3,000 for an understanding of how to get a handle around your online reputation.

The second part, as Bratton sees it, is social media, which is not about how the public is going to trash your brand, but rather “What more can I do to play with my customers, to listen to my customers, to give them some experiences with my brand rather than buying media and looking at impression measurements,” explained Bratton. There’s so much more engagement that can happen as people take your content and forward it or discuss it with their friends. “You might have to widen the aperture of your lens on how you measure impressions, [but] impressions can still be very aptly measured in the social media space,” Bratton said.

Honey, I want you and I to go to the next level. I want us to begin a campaign

Bratton agreed with me that the term “campaign” is dying as a term to associate with social media. Because social media is about relationships, and you can’t put the kind of effort you put into a campaign (which is a lot) into a relationship with your audience. It’s too costly and too exhausting. Social media tools like Facebook and Flickr allow you to create ongoing and sustainable relationships. Something a traditional ad campaign simply can’t do.

The initial cost of a social media engagement doesn’t end with the creative push. You have to be prepared with staff and funds to manage the feedback. Because while you may predict everyone’s going to love what you put out there, people are still going to have questions and criticisms of what you’re doing. Think about what your end goal is and make sure you’re “leaving room in your budget to have the time and the energy to really work it all the way through to customer satisfaction with any program you do in the social media realm,” advised Bratton.

The problem that Bratton is still having with social media is how she scales while she manages individual relationships. It’s a problem she continues to face when she sends out a well intended message to two hundred and fifty hand picked friends from a database of 8,000, and still gets messages back telling her to “take me off this list.”

The other issue she’s having is trying to find the right balance of communications with bloggers who are “being really prickly right now,” said Bratton. It’s a response I’ve heard before, of which I remarked, bloggers come in all shapes, sizes, and levels of ethics. Many don’t have to adhere to an editorial mandate from someone else, and most don’t get paid for what they do, so often they feel they can do what they want to do.

Getting started the Susan Bratton way

Like her steps for producing a great podcast, Bratton advises wanna be online voices to begin developing in the following way:

STEP 1: “You have to understand what you represent to someone else,” explained Bratton, “Why they want you and why they care about you. They don’t actually care about you. They only care about themselves. What are you going to give them?”

STEP 2: With every blog post, podcast, or video, show that you can deliver on that objective.

STEP 3: There’s never such a thing as an overnight success. You have to keep plugging at it and build your audience. Realizing this, Bratton delivers consistently on the production of her shows.

STEP 4: Don’t try to do too much. Meaning, don’t try to do a podcast, Facebook, Twitter, blog, videos, etc. all at once. Pick one to start with and be really good at it.

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