Alexa Flash Briefing Skills are essentially short audio clips (though video may be available in the near future) that can be programed to play the newest “episodes” similar to your favorite podcast app on your phone, and they play by voice command via the Amazon Echo or Alexa app on your favorite mobile device.
Why is this so amazing? You ask. Well, because according to AlmostMillions.com,
The “Flash Briefing” feature on Amazon Echo and other devices will change the way you listen to the news!
But that's not all it will change. Alexa Flash Briefing Skills are about to change the way YOU get your news to your people! They are the newest platform for bloggers and online business owners trying to get their message to the world, and publishing has never been easier.
Ready to hear more?
What is a Flash Briefing Skill?
Amazon's developer blog describes a Flash Briefing this way:
A Flash Briefing provides a quick overview of news and other content such as comedy, interviews, and lists.
Essentially the flash briefing is like a “brief” podcast episode. “Skills” are essentially apps, some can tell you the Tide times for the beach, other can book reservations at your favorite restaurant, and some will play the latest episodes of your Flash Briefing. The Flash Briefing platform can support audios as long as ten minutes, though the current recommended length is 1-2 minutes.
When asked who can create an Alexa Flash Briefing Skill, Amazon says:
You can create a Flash Briefing skill if you own or have the right to distribute original text or audio content that updates frequently, understand web technologies and have the ability to configure HTTPS, RSS and/or JSON content. The voice interactions for a Flash Briefing skill are defined by Amazon, but you must be able edit the format of your content so that the Flash Briefing Skill API can understand it.
Now, don't be scared off by the tech talk. I'll tell you about something in a minute that makes the tech a breeze! Basically Amazon is saying that anyone who can submit the correct audio files of original content on a regular basis can publish on this platform. And that is amazing news for bloggers and podcasters the world over!
How do consumers use them?
Consumers login to their Amazon Alexa account, search for and add Skills to their Skills listing. Whenever they say “Alexa, give me my flash briefing.” Alexa plays through the list of latest audio feeds from the Skills on their list.
People are using this to
- Listen to the news or positive affirmations while getting ready in the morning
- Listen to a private, company only daily Briefings on the commute to work
- Get the sports news or daily inspirational Flash Briefings while walking the dog
- Listen to the local events activity calendar while making breakfast
- Hear up to the minute marketing or real estate listing updates while packing lunches
There are an untold number of places and circumstances in which Alexa Flash Briefings can be accessed, the most popular being in the car.
In 2017, Ford and SEAT installed Alexa capabilities in their vehicles and BMW, Minis, Skoda, Toyota/Lexus and Volkswagen are all promising to release Alexa capabilities, if not this year, then soon.
Why would I want to publish a Flash Briefing Skill?
If Flash Briefing Skills have been primarily news related to date, why would I want to publish one? I am glad you asked! My friends at Soundup Now have said they believe only about 200 bloggers/podcasters have joined the new publishing platform so far. Let's look at three ways Alexa Flash Briefings could grow your business:
1. More visibility
Publishing a Flash Briefing Skill gives you the potential to reach a new, and very large, audience with your message.
As of November 2017, an estimated 8.2 million people own an Alexa device, and I don't believe that counts those who have Alexa capabilities in their cars.
During the 2017 Christmas holiday season CNBC reported that the “Echo Dot was the top-selling product on Amazon across all categories, and the newer Echo Spot and Echo Buttons also sold out.”
If 8.2 million people have the capability to hear your show and there are only 200 other non-news Skills or shows to choose from at the moment, you have a pretty good chance of being found by at least 41,000 people.
And with the Alexa app, almost any smart phone or mobile device has access to Alexa Skills without even having to purchase the Echo, Dot, or Spot. Think of all of those people being able to find you and listen to your content on a daily or weekly basis.
2. Less up front investment
Because Flash Briefings are meant to be brief, they take less time to create on your part. Fewer minutes to record and fewer minutes to edit, means lower overall production cost, which could also mean you're able to produce more content or publish more consistently. The audio player can also be embedded on your site similar to the way podcast players are, so people can come to your site for back episodes or binge listening.
If you had a weekly podcast, you might consider breaking it down into 5 main points and turning those into weekday Flash Briefings. Thereby getting in front of your audience on a daily basis.
3. More ROI – return on investment
When you think about the potential to reach millions with your show on Alexa Skills for just the small monthly cost of hosting the audio files, it's about the most reasonable advertising plan out there.
This is not another “If you build it, they will come.” scheme. You will likely have to do some of your own promotion, and education, but Amazon's search engine is pretty amazing and you can optimize search terms for each of your Flash Briefing feeds.
Flash Briefings can be searched for under the category “Alexa Skills”, but also show up in general searches as well.
I remember the Saturday morning Christian radio shows of the early 1980's always ended the same way, giving out producer names and show contact information. I can still tell you from memory the mailing address for Uncle Charlie or Focus on the Family.
If you have a professional sounding intro or outro on your Flash Briefing that daily leads listeners to your site for an opt-in offer, the potential for traffic, list and income growth through this platform is mind-blowing!
How do I create a Flash Briefing Skill on Alexa?
It's really as easy as 1,2,3.
- Decide on your topic, length, frequency and title. Outline your first few shows and record a brief test audio on your mobile device or normal recording equipment. Generally, even something as simple as the memo app on your iPhone will record well enough for this. You don't have to have fancy equipment at all.
- Create an image (like a podcast cover art) for your Flash Briefing (It should be 512×512 and 108×108 pixels.) and a short description for the Skills listing page.
- Open an account with a Flash Briefing hosting company, add your information, and upload and schedule your audios. I recommend SoundupNow. They are who I am using and have been more than fabulous to patiently explain and help as needed. (You can use the coupon code ALEXA to save $5 off their monthly plan when you decide to host with them.)
Then start letting your fans, followers, readers, customers and clients know that your Alexa Skill is available by sharing your amazon Skill link with them.
Here are my Flash Briefings (Click the images to find them):
Online Business Success Tips with Katie Hornor (M-F)
Café con Katie (M-F)
Click here to see how to listen on your phone without an echo device.
So, please let me know… What will your Flash Briefing Skill be about? And what other questions do you have about this platform? I'll be sharing a detailed tutorial for setting up your own in the near future.