The Why I Social Story

This post originally appeared on ChrisGBarrows.com and tells the story behind the origin of the Why I Social podcast

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As we start the second month of 2015, I’ve been reminded daily by many of my fellow social media professionals that this year may be the year of the podcast. Since this year began, I’ve seen more discussion around the topic of podcasting than I care to count. From Brian Fanzo‘s #SMACTalk to my #JVMChat co-host Jason Viglione and I launching JVMChat Recap Podcast – podcasts seem to be everywhere amongst my social circle.

Lately, I’ve been asked how I went about starting Why I Social. The truth is, it’s been a long time in the making. More so, the question should have been why.

Here’s that story – both the why and the how.

Social Talk featured people like Santa Ono (President of the University of Cincinnati and Chad Jennings (Yankees Beat Writer)

Social Talk featured people like Santa Ono (President of the University of Cincinnati and Chad Jennings (Yankees Beat Writer)

It Started with a Blog Post

In early 2014, I began a monthly blog series of sorts entitled “Social Talk”. The interview series explored conversations with people using social media as part of their careers. Each was unique as it featured everyone from author to university president.

Unfortunately, because of the format of the series, I didn’t feel it explored the personal side of the interviewees to the level that I had originally hoped. I could have evolved it to be more personal from the perspectives of the questions asked – but I wasn’t sure that the real voice of the individuals was being heard. I knew what the next step was – and had known for sometime – there needed to be actual audio.

Knowing the Next Step (but not being ready)

I knew the next step was the start of a podcast – but the idea was not fully formed. I needed a few more things. In order to examine what I need, I often ask myself questions. Here’s what I asked myself as I planned my next steps:

What would make the podcast unique?

In order for the podcast to have any sort of success, it had to be interesting. From the research I had done I knew there wasn’t a shortage of podcasts to listen to. There needed to be a reason for people to tune in and it had to be something that they couldn’t find anywhere else.

Did I have enough potential guests (and enough influencers at that)?

It was one thing to have an idea. It’s another thing to actually be able to provide content. Since I deal with building content everyday in my work, it was a key focus as I went through my planning process. One of my bigger concerns, however, was determining if I had enough influencers to help drive my content once I launched my podcast product.

What tools would I use?

The podcast I was trying to create was designed to feature a wide variety of people. I knew it was going to feature people who may not be known as well as those who were very well known. This meant they’d all have access to different levels of equipment. I needed to find some sort of common ground and a tool for recording that would be easily accessible.

Answering Those Next Step Questions

After I asked some very important questions – I found some answers too:

Why I Social would be unique because…

It would do exactly what I wanted my blog series to do. It would dig deeper. It would get to actually know people. When I explored social media focused podcasts on iTunes they were all about business. There was some human element to it, of course, but they didn’t truly explore what made them tick. Additionally, they generally targeted the very well known and not the up-and-coming.

Guests and Influencers

I quickly realized I wasn’t that ready to launch this podcast. Not yet. I needed more. At the time, my overall social following wasn’t strong enough and I lacked the key influencers that could help me drive home listeners. I was alright with developing a podcast that had niche social media audience. I wasn’t alright with starting a project that I felt was limited in potential reach, however.

The idea behind Why I Social was born during this part of process. I knew what I had to do – I had to do a better job of building relationships. In short, I had to put more focus on my personal brand and networking. The idea of starting a podcast turned out to be one of the single most important ideas of my career. Not because I launched a podcast at that time – but because it made me examine myself and what I wasn’t doing right.

Spoiler: Near the end of 2014, I had experienced an over 150% increase in social media followership and growth. More importantly, I had built some amazing relationships which would allow me to successfully launch the podcast.

Finding The Right Tools

The search for the right tools came much later. In late 2014, I knew I was nearly ready to start the podcast. The one thing I hadn’t done was research tools. So, what were my two biggest concerns?

  1. A place to store/upload my episodes
  2. Determining the best way to record the podcast

1. I explored a lot of options and ultimately decided to use Libsyn.com as my hosting tool. The greatest advantage was a flexible pricing plan, month to month payments and very helpful customer service. I had an on-going conversation with their Twitter handle (@Libsyn) before making the final decision.

2. This decision was a bit easier due to some previous podcasting experience. I used to do a guest spot or two on my friend’s pop culture podcast and he had suggested I use Call Recorder (which integrates with Skype) incase I ever chose to podcast in the future. I looked a bit into other recording options – but this one offered the most flexibility with a tool that everyone from average joe and ceo could enjoy.

The Core of Why I Social

Finally, I had to finalize what was going to draw listeners into the show. A great concept is fine – but I needed to be able to tell people about it. What was the purpose of this podcast? What was the overall goal.

This is what I came up with:

Why I Social brings brings you candid conversations with folks who truly get social media – from average joe to CEO. Each podcast invites you to get to know social media professionals beyond their social media handle. Go beyond the handle with Why I Social.

Source: ChrisGBarrows.com

In truth, the original tagline for Why I Social was “from CEO to average joe”. I was debating this tagline over the course of many days when the following conversation with my wife took place (you’ll get the general idea).

Me: How does this sound? “From CEO to average joe”.
Mary Alice: Shouldn’t that be “from average joe to CEO”

So credit where credit is due. I’m a lucky man.

Launching The Podcast

To launch a podcast, it was more than simply recording a podcast, working to get theme music (special thanks to Benjo Beats) and uploading it to Libsyn. Determining the amount of time on average that it takes for a podcast to go live.

Registering your podcast with iTunes and Stitcher Radio can be a process. You submit your new RSS feed and you play a waiting game. It’s frustrating waiting because you’re excited about what’s to come. You can’t allow that to rush your process, however. I used that time to wisely put together some great graphics using Canva. By building these templates I was able to make the process easy for promoting every one of my podcasts.

I also went on to create a new Twitter handle (@WhyISocial) which has become an extension of my own personal brand. Again, more strategy and content planning takes place with launching a new Twitter handle, but that’s another post in itself, isn’t it.

The End Result (What I’ve Learned)

Since launching, I’ve learned quite a few things. I could write in-depth about all of them. If you take anything away from this post, here’s the big takeaways that I can give you.

  • Know your tools (Research RSS feeds and how to submit to iTunes)
  • Get a decent microphone for yourself (I use a Blue Yeti mic)
  • Develop templates for easy sharing across social media platforms (Canva is an asset for easy image making)
  • Be open to feedback (Provide an email address for in-depth feedback)
  • Have fun (If you don’t enjoy it, if you aren’t passionate, people will know)
  • Use Google Drive or other organization tools to help plan guest schedule (Google Drive and Wunderlist are my go-to’s, Trello is also great)
  • Listen to LOTS of podcasts. Build something that’s unique – but learn from others as well (I’m the first to admit I had a lot of inspiration from the Nerdist podcast – huge fan)

So, What About You?

What would you do differently? What would you do the same? I’d love to hear your feedback. And if you’ve started a podcast before – what was your process like?

Note: This story was originally posted to my LinkedIn page via long-form publishing.

 

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