“The Twitter of Audio”?
Take your pick — those are my maybe-lame nicknames for Alexa Flash Briefings 🙂
I launched my own Alexa Flash Briefing (AFB) - which you can listen via the player below - in August 2018. And here are some random thoughts and comments regarding my experience.
Do you have an Alexa Flash Briefing? If yes, what is it? If no, why not? Let me know in the comments below.
It’s a digital goldmine right now, ripe for the gold rush. Very much like Podcasting, but even more exclusive, as not too many know about it, and not too many will put in the effort to create one, even though it's super-easy.
Which of these would you rather compete with for attention?
5+ Billion YouTube Videos
1+ Billion Websites
10,000+ Alexa Flash Briefings
(The numbers have been aggregated from various resources, many of them making their best- and educated guesses. Anyway, the general idea — and my main point — remains the same.)
Other than posting the directly link a couple of times on Facebook, I’ve done zero marketing. Been absolutely terrible at consistency. I've skipped many weeks and many months in between. Of course my excuse is that I have at least 10 other things that are of higher priority, including my flagship podcast about digital marketing, creating online courses and information products And yet I am now averaging about 100+ unique listeners per episode.
Amazon gives you some decent stats, and it can vary from week to week. Amazon's servers cache your audio too, so even the stats that you get from your podcast host will not be 100% accurate, because Alexa is not pulling from your podcast host every single time (due to the local caching for speedier delivery).
Encouraging to see some semblance of discovery on the platform, because all of those are organic listens.
But then they only have literally 1% volume of what Apple has, in terms of content. So we’ll see what happens at that scale, if they ever get to that.
All you need is a regular podcast RSS feed. Nothing special.
No, your feed doesn’t have to have just 1 episode, contrary to what their own website says on one page, and then contradicts itself on another page saying Alexa will only keep (and play) up to 5 total episodes from your feed (latest one, plus previous 4).
So, it doesn’t matter how many episodes in your feed - Alexa keeps only 5, and will do a round-robin of all AFB’s that the Alexa user has subscribed to, so when it reaches the end of the latest AFB’s, it might pick up your older ones and keep doing until it does all 4.
If the user recognizes that they’ve listened to the older one before, they can skip via voice. But the average person might be subscribed to a bunch of Flash Briefings, so they may not keep going forever. I’m doing more research on this, so sign up for my newsletter and I’ll keep you updated.
When I launched my Alexa Flash Briefing back in 2018, it felt a little bit like how starting a podcast must've felt back in 2005: Marketers and newbies haven’t discovered it yet, it’s not crowded, not the most popular format, not yet mainstream - yet, it seemingly has tons of “potential”.
If you’ve ever wished that you started a podcast many years ago, and not as late as you did, then now’s your chance to be an early-adopter with a Flash Briefing.
Remember that like with anything new, there are no guarantees that it will get big. After all, it took podcasts many years to become mainstream.
But the cool thing is, once you have a short-form podcast, you can use it for whatever similar “skill” that Google Home and Apple HomePod come up with. So you can re-purpose the same feed for multiple platforms. (Check out my course about repurposing: DOPE: Do Once, Publish Everywhere)
And because it’s a regular feed, you can also submit it to all directories where you would submit a “regular” podcast to — like Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Tune-in, Google Play, Google Podcasts (just add special code to website), PocketCasts, etc.
Don’t just treat it like a “news flash” — it can be a lot bigger than that. Not every niche has news-worthy events happening every day.
Instead, mix it up — some industry news, some hot-takes, opinions, facts, this-day-that-year, blog- and social- post summaries, how-to, gear, software — all related to your niche, can go into these quick episodes.
Don’t also treat it like a regular podcast. Keep the intro, small-talk, and “easing into it” to an absolute minimum. Get to the point. Cut to the chase. Oh, by the way, that’s what my AFB is called — search “CutToTheChase” as one word in your Alexa Flash Briefing section and you should find it. You don’t need an actual Alexa device. Just the Alexa app. That’s how I tested mine as well. I launched the Flash Briefing without having an actual device. But now I have a brand-new Alexa sitting in a box, waiting to be setup.
You’re allowed to have ads promoting your own stuff or from sponsors or affiliate products. There’s a whole bunch of terms — make sure you read them. And this includes NOT saying the word “Alexa”.
In fact, I’m going to recommend that you do not say anything specific to Amazon or Alexa, because you want to be able to re-use the feed for other smart speakers and even as a regular podcast.
Make sure your call to action is super-quick — and I recommend only one — which is, to send them to your website “for previous episodes”. Don’t do what most podcasters do — which is give out 10 different calls to action, ratings, reviews blah blah.
Yesterday was my first time doing batch-recording. The cool thing is that AFB episodes only need to be 1–3 minutes long (they can be up to 10 mins long, but I wouldn’t recommend more than 3). So I batch-recorded 3 episodes in about 10 minutes. 10 minutes to script those 3. Another 10 to edit all 3 I guess (I have only edited 1, and it took under 5 minutes). I’m guessing it’s going to take about 10 minutes per episode, start to finish. Once a week, I’m planning on batch-recording all 7 episodes in one or at most two sittings.
Excited to see what kind of creativity the time-constraint brings out in me and other podcasters and audio creators.
Audio (and Voice) is the future — which is why I’m going All-In on Audio, with 3 shows now — my main show (20–30 mins), 2nd show (5–7 mins) which I’m bringing to the “frontburner” (is that even a thing?), and my AFB (1–3 mins)
Alexa has a long way to go. The app crashes frequently, we don’t know how big the Alexa market will be, and how of them will actually have a flash briefing, and then they have to be interested in your show’s topic, then they have to find you, etc etc. So it’s not all exactly rainbows and roses. So don’t get overhyped.
But the fact that the content you’re creating isn’t exactly only for Alexa, and that it can be re-purposed, is a huge plus. So none of your efforts are wasted even if Alexa doesn’t pick up.
Let me know what your experience has been. And if you have any questions, comments or suggestions for this post.
I will be talking more about this topic on my podcast at https://SubscribeMe.fm . So please check it out when you get a chance.
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