Is Podcasting Social Media?

So, I got asked this question on a call today with a fellow social media expert and I just had to blog about the ensuing conversation.

In reality if you look at the Latin origins of the word social it would most likely have a definition akin to the free give and take of conversation and collaboration amongst multiple parties. Slap on the word media and that ensures it is some form of digital media these days.

So with this as a backdrop the answer would logically be – NO!

A podcast is a new media. A podcast is a new channel. But it is still at the end of the day a one way dialog – you listen to one or two people having a conversation. If you were listening to two people having a conversation at a party are you being social? I think not – its only when you get involved in the conversation does it become social.

So just how social are podcasts?

Take it from me, I have personally recorded and handed edited over 100 podcasts for this blog and other purposes and I can safely say they don’t get the level of interactivity (read comments) like my regular old blog posts do. Yes there is that element of “portability” meaning you can take a podcast anywhere and listen to it any time – but do people really do that?? The answer there is also NO. I find my listeners tend to consume the media right when they find it. Which is why I go through the trouble of tagging my podcasts with Veotag so folks can listen to only the relevant question or 2, get in – get out and on to the next thing. People are busy and you can read faster than you can listen!

So does that spell the end of podcasts?

No way, I got a little nervous when I saw PodTech get sold for $500,000 but think podcasts can be very useful in delivering messages – just realize going in you aren’t really doing social media by doing a bunch of podcasts. Does this mean I will stop my podcast series? – no, I enjoy it too much to stop!

So what’s your view – is podcasting social media to you?

13 comments to Is Podcasting Social Media?

  • jon burg

    Podcasts are social in the same way that radio is social. People listen to them, occasionally call in or comment, and will discuss them with one another. All media is social, in that it presents in a social context known as the human experience.

    I personally believe that social media is about the varying degrees of prompted/planned/desired sociality.

    Most blogs still don’t have many comments, are THEY social media?

  • Paul Dunay


    I guess you are right – there are varying degrees of sociability

    RSS being the lowest, podcast slightly further up the chain, blogs even further and communities/social networks being the most social

  • Baker

    Yet another great post Paul. I think that your question highlights a deeper gap in the collective conscience – Understanding the difference between ‘Web 2.0’ and ‘Social Media’.

    Podcasts are one of many new media types that make it easier to ‘consume’ information, and certainly a part of the 2.0 landscape.

    However, to be considered part of ‘Social Media’, I think the collaboration element must be inherent.

    To wit – it’s not the blog itself that qualifies as social media – it’s the ability to comment.

    Cheers ~

  • Rotkapchen

    We tend to not separate the elements correctly as ‘attributes’ to study them. As I had to point out to one client who wanted to create a special ‘interface’ for podcasts…a podcast is simply a piece of content. Same as all the stuff on YouTube.

    What gets wrapped around that content to create an interaction is separate from the content itself. So a podcast is social media, what it’s not inherently is social interaction. That has to be built in (and is easily done so as a blog post — which is often how it’s leveraged).

  • Paul Dunay

    @Rotkapchen – yes that is an excellent distinction between social media and the amount of social interaction!

    @baker – you are right it is the amount of collaboration that really pushes these new tools up or down the scale of social interaction

  • Bresslau

    Hi Paul,
    I like your idea of taking a look in what directions the communication happens to define it as being social or not social. But I wouldn’t rate RSS lower than podcasts. I believe more people click on a link in an RSS item to leave a comment on the original post than people would go back to the podcast’s home to comment there. And I do share my favourite RSS items on GReader.
    What Rotkäpchen says, though, makes sense. Any content can be made social, if inserted in the adequate environment.

    About podcasts per se, I do listen to them while on the move. Or when cleaning my apartment. The thing is, I can’t walk and read your blog at the same time (well, I could, but it would be dangerous), but I can perfectly listen to podcasts while driving. Or when doing some mechanical manual work I don’t have to concentrate too much to do. But then, I am only one data point in the stats.

    Cheers from Mannheim,

  • Tim Bratton

    Hi Paul,

    Have you thought about putting your Podcast on your social network pages? I made a social media podcast widget for you.

    Click “Get” to get the code for your blog, facebook, myspace, pages, etc.

    Click “Create” to change the size, color, add your logo, etc

    Best regards,


  • Josh Carr

    going back to @Rotkapchen comment – I agree that any content given the right wrapping can be social.

    I also think that podcasting hasn’t gotten huge yet because it is still radio on demand.

    But if you can figure out how to make it a conversation instead of a dictation then I think it will be huge. Hearing a voice communicates far more than reading text.

  • Marcelo Morem

    I think podcast is just a content distribution format. It can be used inside a social media environment, like a blog or social nets. But the podcast itself is not social media, by no means, in my opinion.

  • Martin Edic (techrigy)

    Your lack of comments is probably because many people simply cannot listen to podcasts at work and are likely to dump them into an iPod and listen while driving or working out.
    As to whether they’re social, they can and should include meta-data like tags and keywords and they are shareable. I think they may be a transitional medium.

  • Mark Juliano

    You should check out TalkShoe – which offers true social podcasting or Live Interactive Podcasting. Not only can someone do a live podcast, but hundreds of people can join in live via telephone, VoIP, and text-chat. The service also records and hosts the podcasts.

  • Dave

    TalkShoe has created a system for live interactive podcasting. Or you could call it conference calling on steroids (is that still kosher?). While between .01% and .1% of radio listeners call into a talk radio show, about 2% of listeners call into their favorite podcast and another 3% listen live and text chat with the host and callers. While the percentages are single digits, that’s 50 – 500 times more interactivity than radio. In a time-shifted world, we’re not going to see 100%.

    TalkShoe Founder

  • Paul Dunay

    @Mark and @Dave

    yes I am familiar with TalkShoe and have used it – interesting service

    the only downside is it is hard to edit the podcast – its appears to me to be more of a “once and done” medium – which has a place in the market for sure

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