Podcasting Boom or Bust Part 3

The third and biggest surprise about our Mansfield University Podcast is not the international audience.  We’re regularly downloaded in about 30 different countries.  No, the biggest surprise is our Chinese audience.  I started noticing China on my Traffic Facts a little more than a year ago.  The audience size was soon 10 % of all our traffic.

This grew to 15 %, then 20% and on.  Today, 48% of our total audience is from China.  The figures surprised our provost, who is working to develop agreements with Chinese universities (which he started before the audience there grew). 

A psychology prof friend speculated that maybe schools are using it to learn English.  A marketing professor, new on campus, comes from China.  His take is that it holds the largest population in the world.  The economy is booming.  The Chinese are very interested in the U.S., especially higher education which, he says, is much better than the Chinese higher ed system. 

Our IT department folks caution that a lot of hackers are in China and they may be a part of the figures. 

I don’t know.  Maybe all of them are right.
If the trend continues, China will soon comprise the majority of our audience.  How do I use this to our advantage?  I mentioned doing something special for our Chinese audience to Eden, my student producer, but she, in her youthful wisdom, said no.  If our podcast is popular, it’s because of what we’re doing right now.

How do I and the admissions director turn listeners into inquiries?  Are the listeners even students?  Since I don’t get feedback, I have no way of knowing the demographic composition. 

I’ll take any ideas or suggestions.

*   *   *

Podcasting took a sort of back seat when video iTunes hit the scene, followed by the exploding popularity of YouTube.

Obviously, from what I’ve detailed here, there is an audience for audio podcasts, especially if shows are interesting, compelling and human. 

I know other colleagues chose not to try it, or dropped it and went on to other things.

I’m sticking with it. I have no facts to show that it has done much in the way of recruiting or marketing. 

All I have is a loyal and steadily growing international audience.

That counts for a lot in a small, rural university in north central Pennsylvania.

It’s a niche audience, but in a global village, niches can be pretty big.

Comments and thoughts, as always, are welcome.


2 responses to “Podcasting Boom or Bust Part 3

  1. How about doing a show with an international student explaining her/his application process, experience at Mansfield and in the States?

    S/he doesn’t have to be Chinese for this to work. If your Chinese listeners are indeed potential prospective students, this series will help them a lot (as well as any International students thinking about studying in the US).

    When you are miles away and are planning to make a decision that will totally change your life (studying abroad), a friendly voice is definitely something you would like to listen to.

    Anyway, my 2 cents.
    Loved your 3-post series about podcasting.
    Great blogging

  2. Great idea, Karine! Thanks for the feedback. If anyone else has ideas, please let me know. This is all new territory so I’m grateful for ideas and I’ll continue to share my progress as we venture forth.

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