Mood Podcast – The Contextual Essay

For our advanced digital media project this semester, Julia Belikova and I teamed up to create MOOD podcast. MOOD podcast consists of an Instagram account and a podcast, which through Anchor is distributed onto streaming channels such as Spotify and Apple Podcasts. When creating MOOD podcast, Julia and I saw there was great potential for creating a discussion platform that fellow Australian music supporters like ourselves would be interested in engaging with. With our common interest in pursuing a future career in digital media management and content creation, this project allowed for us to foster and put our digital media skills into practice. Ideally we aimed to create a space to engage with like-minded individuals interested in the Australian music fan community & podcast community. As we are in a paradigm shift as well as a global pandemic, digital adaptation and connections are vital to the world we live in.  “To create meaningful innovations, you need to know your users and care about their lives.” We created our digital artefact to act as a tool for communication and engagement for young people giving them a digital space to bond over common interests.

The original plan for the trajectory of this project was to produce at least one podcast episode a week, complimented by regular Instagram content including posts, stories and reels. Instagram posts included original photo edits, snippet videos of our podcast episodes, music media news and memes. Our story content included “song of the day” animated song shares, story Q & As, polls, and promoting podcast episodes. We now have curated 7 podcast episodes , 1 IGTV, 1 YouTube video, 36 Instagram posts and around 200 Instagram story posts.

Episodes:

Instagram: @moodpodcastau

MOOD podcast was a project we begun in our 2nd year of university however, the platform we relied on, YouTube, was unsuccessful and our podcast topics were always too broad or planned poorly. Giving a fresh start to a pre-existing idea was something quite exciting for us and we brainstormed a list of possible ways to grow our project. We decided to shift the podcast onto a new platform. Starting off we used a platform called Buzzsprout however we soon learnt there was a limited amount of minutes you could upload on this platform before you had to a pay a fee for further access. After reaching out about this issue to our fellow classmates and tutor, many of them suggested a platform called Anchor. Straight away we transferred all our content onto this platform and found it was so much easier to navigate.

Julia and I made a google doc to keep record of all our ideas and suggestions for MOOD podcast. Keeping in mind our projects utility and that “ideation is your chance to combine the understanding you have of the problem space and people you are designing for with your imagination to generate solution concepts”, we brainstormed a whole list of possible topics and content ideas. We curated a list of possible podcast topics and slotted each topic into a suitable week as we noticed certain topics were more relevant in certain weeks given the current pandemic situation. It was very easy for Julia and I to collaborate as we both have a similar skillset and the workload was weighted out between the two of us well. For the first few weeks I was editing the audio content and Julia focused on the Instagram posts, however as it can be quite a time consuming process, when there were weeks I was unable to edit, Julia was able to take on the role. 

Google Doc:

Revamping MOOD Podcast

Although we would have liked to create more podcast episodes, Covid restrictions and time management did affect our content production for this media type, however we ensured engagement was not lost by keeping our Instagram posts very regular and utilising the Instagram stories feature to make daily posts.

One thing we did take away from our original project was that our Instagram account engagement was actually the most successful part of the project. Instagram is a great platform to support our podcast content as it creates a great space for quick, easy and trackable engagement. Our first step in re-working MOOD podcast was giving our Instagram page a facelift. In order to not confuse new or existing followers with the new aesthetic or new podcast episodes we decided it was best to completely archive or delete all the existing posts on the account. We had a very clear vision of how we wanted the aesthetic of the account to appear. Using Canva we were able to decide a CD logo design for the podcast and decided to use the colour scheme of the CD throughout our Instagram feed.

Before and After

Looking to popular music news or media accounts for inspiration, we noticed a trend of accounts using simple but affective layouts with bright coloured backgrounds on their images when sharing a news story. For example:

This concept was something we thought could easily be adapted for our own content. Another popular trend on these type of media Instagram accounts we noticed was that most of the posts on accounts were actually just reposts from other accounts. Kevin Kelly explains the internet is a “copy machine”. Indeed, copies flow so freely we could think of the internet as a super-distribution system, where once a copy is. Kelly explains the free flow of copies on the internet create a “super-distribution system” where once a copy is introduced it will “continue to flow through the network forever, much like electricity in a superconductive wire”. Living in a “copy machine” world of the internet, originality seems to be very scarce at the moment, but this is something we thought we could use to our advantage. Reposting music memes, news or images from our accounts allowed for us to rapidly produce fast and easy content. This can be described by the term “content curation” simply meaning “sharing content created by other sources”. In a digital context, the curation of information refers to the grouping of content and is concerned with “maintaining, preserving and adding value”

 In Forbes article “How To Use Content Curation The Right Way”, Adam Wagner explains that in content curation, it’s not necessarily the content itself that builds the relationship with your audience, but rather the fact that “you are becoming their personal news source. By bringing curated news to them you not only make their life easier but it also “positions you as an industry expert who they can trust.”

Th audience feedback for this form of content was quite successful. We noticed that tagging accounts such as the music artists involved in the news piece or the media outlet source we got the photo from, brought a lot of attention to our post. Utilising hashtags or tagging a relevant location to the post was another simple but effective way of  gaining more views and likes on our posts

Instagram stories insights & creating easy and simple audience participation

According to Hootsuite a digital and social media blogsite, about half of Instagram’s monthly users are using Stories. That’s 500 million people posting 1 billion Stories every day. MOOD podcast Instagram stories proved to be most successful when using Q & A type stories and polls. These features of the app allow for immediate feedback and allow our audience to participate in our feedback loop by simply voting in a poll or suggesting a song in a “question” story.

Here are some examples of the audience interactions we received. We tried to make our story “questions” and polls relevant to the podcast episode topic of the week. A relevant story would be made before and after posting our episode to stay relevant to the topic of the week and encourage engagement with the podcast episode before and after it had been posted. We also would post daily song suggestions on our stories and encouraged our audience to become part of this segment by commenting which song requests they’d like to be featured. When tagging artists in our songs of the day it was quite exciting to actually have the artists themselves respond to our story or in some cases even share it to their own story, helping us reach the artists fanbase as well.

The feedback from this format of content prove that participatory media is successful due to audiences wanting to be actively involved in the media they consume. “An active audience engages, interprets and responds to a media text in different ways and is capable of challenging the ideas encoded in it.” Allowing our followers to suggest our “songs of the day” helped us achieve this. It was also interesting to see the growth in views when posting more international artists on our story. It’s no surprise that these artists have much larger fanbases, but what we did find surprising is that somehow the Instagram algorithm allowed such a small account like ours to be viewed by so many external accounts not previously following us.

“Audience activity connotes media involvement. It affects the influence of media and messages, and is a crucial concept for explaining media effects.”

– Alan M. Rubin (1993) Audience activity and media use, Communications Monographs

Insights from Anchor and promoting through Facebook

Looking at the insights provided by Anchor, we were able to gain a better understanding of the audience demographics for our podcast episodes. The statistics show that our most popular users are: females, aged 18-22, located in Australia, listening through Spotify. Framing our listener and what we predicted their common interests to be, we decided to find Facebook communities which commonly fit this description.

Brent Barnhart in article “Facebook Group marketing: how to build your community” explains that Facebook engagement is actually increasing despite rumblings about the platform’s frequently changing algorithm. Recent data from the Sprout Social Index highlights that 40% of marketers view private communities as a top social trend to prioritise in 2020. “According to Facebook themselves, the platform prioritises content from Groups that users frequently engage with. So if you’re consistently publishing to your Group and your audience is reacting to it or they’re posting content themselves, you’re feeding the algorithm exactly what it wants.” One notable group which we were able to successfully reach out and engage with is a Facebook group called “Carti’s Angels”. The group consists of 11.6k members and was created by Instagram social media influencer Cartia Mallan. The group is made up of individuals who are fans of Cartia Mallan but also who share common interests such as music, fashion, mental health, spiritually and more. On particular pins posted individuals in the group are welcomed to share passion projects or promote their own small businesses and we took this as an opportunity to promote MOOD podcast.

Visual content and collaborations

Experimenting with Instagram’s IGTV feature was an interesting experience. For episode 3 of our podcast, we collaborated with Isaac Percy founder of Smash the Silence to produce an episode on music and mental health. This episode also aligned with R U Ok day and World Suicide Prevention Day. A lot of thought and pre-planning was involved in creating this episode as we had to take into consideration the importance of the topics we would be discussing and that some viewers may be sensitive to these topics. This was also our first collaboration with someone on an episode so we also wanted to make sure thing ran smoothly. On the day of recording this episode, Isaac invited us to his workspace at Camden Civic centre and we spent two hours recording visual and audio footage. In the process of recording the footage an error occurred and none of the audio recording was saved properly. This technical fault was really upsetting for us as we had worked so hard and the genuine flow of our podcast conversation ran so smoothly we were worried it would be impossible to repeat. We recorded again for another hour and were extra careful to properly save our footage. This was a big learning moment and we were very fortunate to have experienced it collaborating with a friend. However, it was a big wake up call, technical issues like these happen in the media production process and having to stay resilient and work around them was something we had to learn very early on.

Editing the audio and visual together for the IGTV was a very time consuming process. The video currently has 173 views on Instagram and another 127 on YouTube. This definitely shows us that collaborating and adding visuals to our content plays a huge role in increasing engagement. While we are very happy with the outcome of the video, the time consuming process of editing and recording content like this, realistically is not something achievable on a weekly basis for us. Collaboration in general is something we hoped to include more of on MOOD podcast. Collaborating on social media platforms such an effective way of growing audience reach, “when you work alongside others you bring in a new audience, new ideas, and new opinions.”

 We had multiple conversations in which case artists or people in the music industry did actually reach out to us and show their interest and enthusiasm to be on an episode with us, however it become slightly difficult to communicate and organise specific dates due to Covid and other interruptions. If developing this project in the future we would definitely consider attempting to create more IGTV videos or even plan collaborations as we hoped to do in our original planning.

Wrapping it up

Overall, both Julia and I had some major learning moments creating content for our project MOOD podcast. This project is something we believe still has potential for growth in the future. Adapting the skills and feedback gained both through audience interactions and suggestions from our peers helped us make great progress. With easing covid restrictions, the future holds many opportunities for us such as more collaborations and attending live music events again. We look forward to continuing to experiment and develop our content creation and management skills.

Click here for the pitch and beta stages of this project and for more on MOOD podcast check out our Instagram @moodpodcastau or our linktree.

Sources:

http://web.stanford.edu/~mshanks/MichaelShanks/files/509554.pdf

https://www.alnap.org/system/files/content/resource/files/main/ModeGuideBOOTCAMP2010L.pdf

https://www.edge.org/conversation/kevin_kelly-better-than-free

https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesagencycouncil/2017/09/01/how-to-use-content-curation-the-right-way/?sh=4e049efeb63e

https://ses.library.usyd.edu.au/bitstream/handle/2123/8137/DRPJournal_5pm_S2_2011.pdf;jsessionid=F4C12D096F5B1A37B46FAA3126D2F295?sequence=1

https://sproutsocial.com/insights/marketing-tips-facebook-groups/

https://blog.hootsuite.com/how-to-use-instagram-stories/

https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/guides/zg24frd/revision/3

https://nca.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/03637759309376300?casa_token=5HnUJFqNUUgAAAAA:nFiCVe9I8G6rvkMVOJpuisLvcBKwlVO2FMQjACLLCPuV6tAX9jW9Nn1sUIOEzUkn7er6KaGGJgfDQQ

https://blog.nowmarketinggroup.com/collaborating-social-media#:~:text=When%20you%20work%20alongside%20others,should%20be%20working%20with%20others.

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