Last week I had the opportunity to attend the Alexa Conference in Tennessee! Everyone was super nice, and I learned a ton. Here are my key takeways:
Keynote on the Future of Voice:
1. Smart speaker devices are being purchased faster than any other device in history. It took smartphones 5 years to reach 50% market penetration. Smart speakers did that in less than 2 years.
2. We’re going to be moving away from phones (with tapping, typing, and swiping) and more into a voice-centric environment which is more “heads-up”. This is great for driving, or when you’re cooking, or walking around. (Side point – the train I ride in the morning is super quiet. I don’t even ride the quiet car but it’s like a tomb. People are all plugged in to their headphones or sleeping.)
3. Cars will be moving toward a voice-centric environment very quickly. Amazon already has over 1,000,000 pre-sale orders for the Amazon Auto, an Alexa in-car connector.
Strategies for Flash Briefings:
One of the things that was highlighted multiple times was the amount of podcasts currently available – 660,000 (75% of which are no longer being added to regularly). It’s pretty challenging to get your podcast noticed with that much competition. However, since there are only 8,000 Flash Briefings currently available, it’s much easier to stand out and build an audience now.
1. Focus on creating an audio logo ASAP. An audio logo is a musical clip that people will associate with your brand. If you think of theme clips like the ones associated with Intel, MGM (the lion roaring), 20th Century Fox (their clip is almost a minute long!), it’s obvious that once you hear the sound, you associate it with that brand. Undoubtedly, you spent time on your logo for your business cards and website – how about your audio logo for your Flash Briefing?
2. If your Flash Briefing is not in all the English-speaking Amazon Stores (Amazon.ca, Amazon.co.uk, etc.), that’s the key thing to do ASAP to get more listeners. You just copy all the info from your current Flash Briefing into one for a different country. The current countries that support English speaking Flash Briefings include the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom (England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland), India, and Australia. I have done this and have a significant number of subscribers in the UK, some in Canada and India, but very few in Australia. I like to think that most of the Australians are too busy surfing to subscribe to my Flash Briefing.
Answers to Questions About Flash Briefings
Amazon had a support team on site to answer questions, so I had the chance to ask about Flash Briefings. (If you want to make your own Flash Briefing, go to Effct.co and use code “ALEXA20” for a 20% discount!)
1. When I asked the Amazon Support team why my Flash Briefing doesn’t appear at the top of the list when someone searches for “Instagram”, they explained about the order of Flash Briefings. I was told that Flash Briefings are sorted alphabetically, similar to the Yellow Pages back in the day. I find this very odd and not a great method.
- the review was written elsewhere,
- the review had something offensive, or
- the review was inappropriate.
Suspicious reviews are flagged by the Amazon algorithm, causing them to temporarily go missing. A human will manually review things, then the review will appear permanently or an email will be sent to the author of the review, letting them know there was a problem with their review.
Even though this event wasn’t really about podcasting, there were some podcasters there, and I sat in a panel with some professional podcasters.
Strategies for Podcasts:
1. Focus on making podcasts the length of an average commute, which is about 20 minutes or so.
2. Split your podcast episodes into chapters of about 10 minutes long.
3. Include some kind of “cliff-hanger” as a teaser for the next episode to keep people coming back.
There was a huge exhibitor area with some really great products and services. Here are the 3 best I saw:
1. Lifepod – a special branded Alexa device + service for older people to run routines. For instance, caregivers could load in the person’s daily schedule to ensure the person took their medication, get ready for doctors appointments, and more. So at 9:45 AM, Alexa would remind the person to take their medication, then at 10AM, confirm that the person took their medication, then at 11AM, remind them to start getting ready for their physical therapy appointment at 12PM. If the person doesn’t respond, or says they didn’t take their medication, their caregiver will be alerted. I think this product is so interesting because it gives older people autonomy. For $10/month, it seems like an amazing value for my Nana.
2. CastLingo by Witlingo – an app that will build you an Alexa Skill (not a Flash Briefing) that turns audio content into searchable quieries that users can ask Alexa for. A user could ask “Alexa – What are Instagram DMs for” and an audio clip I uploaded previously can play to answer the user’s question. The best part about this is the audio I record or upload is instantly searchable – I don’t have to do any transcription or pay anyone to do the transcription. For $10/month, this seems like a great way to give more value to your audience via an Alexa Skill.
3. Chompers – This is an Alexa Skill from Crest to get kids to brush their teeth. People are already using Alexa as a timer, but this ads a timer as a layer on top of a game. Kids will hear jokes, riddles, stories, fun facts, silly songs and more, that’ll keep them giggling — and brushing — for the full two minutes that dentists recommend.