Listen Up: How podcasts can help you engage with students like never before
Thursday, November 7, 2019

The UK is listening up. With nearly six million UK adults tuning in to a podcast each WEEK, half of podcast listeners being under 35 and growth of podcast listeners amongst 18-24-year-olds being the largest, with one in five listening to podcasts each week, university careers services should be utilising this medium to great effect.

Podcasts may seem daunting, quirky, and too hard to produce, but the reality is the contrary and the statistics don’t lie: students are the most involved in this hugely popular modern medium. But why should careers services and universities use them, and how?

Here are the main reasons for utilising audio content:

  1. They create a community

Podcasts are brilliant for creating a community within your university, or even making your overall university community stronger, because of the shared following that they encourage. Students can talk about the podcasts together, which improves the sharing of information vital to them; they can chat in online forums or on social media about each podcast episode, furthering discussion; and they can create material that links to the podcasts or is related to them. All of this discussion and engagement between students, the university and lecturers will only drum up more awareness of the points/issues/advice raised in the podcasts.

  1. Their information/advice can be consumed anywhere at any time

Another huge benefit of podcasts is that they are easily accessible at any time or place due to the ability to download them for free or stream them directly. Students will therefore never be without opportunities to absorb new advice/information from your careers services about any topics from any episode of your podcast series. They can also listen to them while multitasking as they only require a pair of ears; thus, unlike videos or articles, they do not require a person’s full attention but still get their points across.

  1. They’re easy to produce

Time-consuming? Not podcasts. Podcasts are relatively easy to produce compared to many other mediums. Whereas videos and articles need planning and huge amounts of editing, podcasts can be done live and instantly posted, and the fact that they are just people conversing means they need minimal preparation. Also, they only come in one format so there are never any arduous file issues.

  1. Content possibilities are endless

With a podcast, the audio nature of the medium allows you to cover whatever content and subjects you would like to address in a variety of manners.

Ideas can include:

  • Interviews with careers officers, recruiters, organisation representatives or students on their opinions on job roles, and almost anything you choose, and advice for students.
  • You can provide content that focuses on specific topics or values, such as CSR, transparency or internal mobility in employers, and which companies students should look at that do this effectively.
  • You can even offer expert analysis on issues in the news: for example, the future of recruitment in light of new technologies such as virtual reality, augmented reality, gamification and artificial intelligence.
  • You can discuss and talk to successful case study interns and graduates about their career paths, experiences, daily lives and their feedback for future candidates. They can tell their stories.
  • You can address diversity issues on campus and in recruitment and promote/advertise diversity campaigns, and cover topics on neurodiversity, disability, ethnicity, socioeconomic background, and LGBTQ+ issues.
  • You can host a Q&A structure where students ask questions on social media, email, text or any communication method you fancy, and they can be answered directly and relatively quickly in the podcast. This increases engagement with your student community and solidifies a direct relationship and connection between a careers service and its students.

The possibilities are vast...

  1. The length and frequency of podcasts pose no issue – your options are open

As podcasts can be whatever you make them, it is entirely up to you how long or short each episode is and how often you post. This is admittedly the same with any medium, but the audio format means that you are less likely to bore your audience, which can happen with long articles, and audio takes up less memory space than video, so there should be fewer uploading issues on all chosen platforms.

  1. They have an authenticity and naturalness that is difficult to replicate on other medium

In written and video content it is very hard to display conversations and an authentic naturalness to the content. Podcasts are not like this. The listener feels as if they are directly part of the conversation and therefore they feel closer to the university, its brand and the people in positions of responsibility.

So, rather than telling your students to take their headphones out, maybe you should be telling them to pop them back in! Listening to podcasts could revolutionise the effectiveness of your student engagement and provide a new method of sharing information in a more relaxed, personal and authentic way.