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Tips for distributing and promoting your first podcast
Welcome back to The Burst’s ‘Podcasting A-Z’ series!
In the first post of the series, I explained best practices for setting up your podcast for success. Next, we’re going to discuss podcast promotion basics that will help you grow your audience and stand out against the crowd. We’ll be touching on:
- Syndicating your podcast
- Social media for podcast promotion
- Creating a podcast website
- Encouraging listener interaction
- Obtaining social proof
- Leveraging your network
An important fact about today’s consumer is that they have mad brand loyalty. From toothpaste to potato chips to podcast apps, people like what they like, and it can be challenging to get them to switch things up.
What does this mean in terms of distributing your podcast?
Since it’s difficult to motivate listeners to change their habits, your best bet is to distribute your show widely and have it be everywhere that they are.
There are the obvious places to post your show, such as Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Spotify, but there are also many other platforms and podcatchers (apps that play podcasts) to consider. Here are a few to get you started:
- Blubrry Podcast Directory
- Audioburst 😇
Now that you have published, branded, and submitted your podcast to podcatchers far and wide, it’s time to hit the metaphorical pavement!
Social Media is one of the most effective ways to get the word out about your show. Most people are members of at least one social platform, so it’s a great way to reach current listeners as well as a logical place to recruit new ones.
As the two most well-known social media sites around, you’ll likely want to start with Twitter and Facebook. For Twitter, create accounts for both you (the host) and your show. On Facebook, you can begin with a show page.
Post on your show’s Twitter and FB page each time a new episode is released and on Twitter, have your host’s account retweet it. Your episode release posts should include a link to a platform where your followers can listen to the episode (Apple Podcasts, Spotify, etc.) or if you have one, to the show notes section of your website. Even better than either of those, however, is to embed an audio player directly into your social post. Using an embedded player will allow your listeners to check out your new episode without even leaving the site. Also, consider pinning the post containing your most recent episode to the top of your feed for easy access.
The ladies from the parenting podcast One Bad Mother “are doing a great job” with their social media presence. They’re present and accounted for on both Facebook and Twitter:
They post on both platforms when episodes are released…
…and on Facebook, they’ve pinned the most recent show:
Once you have Twitter and Facebook nailed down, you should think about your podcast’s intended audience before deciding where else you should have a social presence. It might be Snapchat, Pinterest, or in the case of One Bad Mother, Instagram:
Instagram is an excellent platform to choose if your show is on a topic that would benefit from visuals (cooking, fashion, travel), if you’re selling merchandise, or if the listener demographic you’re attempting to attract are heavy users of the service (ex. Gen Z tends to prefer Instagram and Snapchat over other platforms).
Aside from showcasing any impressive visuals you may have, you can also post audio clips of your episodes like the OBM crew did here:
Other tips for promoting your show on social media:
- Respond promptly and consistently
You want your followers to feel important and connected to you on a personal level, so be sure to respond to their tweets, comments, and messages right when they come in to encourage engagement.
- Tag brands and influencers in your posts
Leverage the networks of people with more significant followings. Even one mention, share, or retweet from a big name can create a buzz and project credibility.
- Use hashtags
Help people find you by effectively using hashtags. There are best practices for every platform, so to ensure that you’re getting the most out of your hashtags, check out this great post by Sprout Social on the topic.
- Post in groups
There is a Facebook group for just about everything, which means that there is most certainly one for your show topic. There are even entire groups just for podcasters to promote their most recent episodes. Join relevant groups and become part of those communities. While some won’t let you post links, most will allow you to mention your show when you introduce yourself, and some have weekly threads where you can post your most recent episode in the post’s comments.
Even for groups where self-promotion is off the table, getting your name in front of other podcasters can help gain visibility.
Here are a few podcast-related groups to check out:
Have a website
One of the main challenges podcasters face is discoverability. The issue with discovery is two-pronged. On the one hand, podcasts are more in vogue than they’ve ever been. With thousands of shows in existence and new ones being created each day, competing for listeners’ time is a tough job. On the other hand, for the 7 out of 10 Americans familiar with podcasting, there are still 3 Americans who’ve never heard of it.
The best way to help both groups find your show is not just to be part of audio libraries and podcast directories but to also get your brand to surface on the one place where just about every person is: Google.
Being accessible via text-based search is critical, as it is going to get you listeners who may not know what a podcast is, but are interested in what you do.
Say you host a podcast about learning to play the clarinet. People who have a burning desire to pick up a woodwind instrument may not rush to Apple Podcasts to find out what brand of instrument to buy. They will, however, be on Google searching for ‘what brand of clarinet should I buy?’ When they do, that is when they will find the website for your podcast and the show notes for your episode covering just that.
When these prospective clarinetists land on your site, you want to have everything having to do with your podcast aggregated in one place. This will help them locate you on all of the social and podcast platforms you can be found on and let them learn more about you and your content.
An example of a well-done podcast website is the site for the podcast Serial.
The most successful season of any podcast ever created would probably be Season 1 of Serial. The season covered the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee, a student at a Baltimore high school. While the story and its audio were captivating, there were a lot of details which were hard to keep track of while just listening to the audio.
Serial used their website to add a visual layer to their storytelling, posting copies of letters, pictures, timelines, and a ‘People Map’ online to give their listeners more information.
The show has taken different approaches to show artwork and the material posted on their site for each season, but in all cases, it gives listeners someplace to go when they want ‘more.’ They also have a nice menu that tells you where you can find them on the web, and how to listen to their show.
Still not sure what to include on your site? Here are some ideas:
Show notes for each of your episodes that include:
- Podcast audio (preferably via an embedded player)
- Episode summaries
- Episode transcripts
- Guest bios and contact info (if any)
- Sponsor information (if any)
An ‘About’ page that includes:
- General information about the show
- Host bio
A ‘Contact Us’ section that includes:
- Links to all of your social pages (FB, Twitter, Instagram, etc.)
- Either an email address or contact form
While building an attractive website and getting a custom domain may sound expensive and complicated, through the use of platforms like WordPress, Squarespace, and Wix, you can get a website up and running quickly, for as little as $5 per month.
Encourage listener interaction
Avoid being a passive host, and instead, encourage listener interaction. Invite your listeners to email you, reach out on social, or give you a call. Ask them to let you know what they’d like to hear on your show, or to share their experiences on a topic you’re going to be covering in an upcoming episode.
In episode #139, hosts Alex Goldman and PJ Vogt opened up ‘The Reply All Hotline’ to take calls and help listeners solve their problems, “big and small.”
But call in shows aren’t the only listener-based episodes the show does.
‘Super Tech Support’ is another listener-based recurring segment on the show. In the segment Alex and PJ invite users to write or call in with their tech problems, then they pick an issue and dedicate an entire episode to resolving it:
In a recent airing of the segment, they tackled the issue of why the podcast 99% Invisible seems to break the stereo systems in Mazda vehicles. It’s a really good episode!
One of the things that make podcasting (and audio in general) so well-liked is the connection that the listener feels with the creator.
Welcome that bond and make an effort to bring your listeners into the fold. An engaged listener is likely to become an evangelist for your brand and recommend you to others. Many people get their podcast recommendations from friends, so get on people’s ‘must listen’ lists!
Seek social proof…ask for reviews
Whether we’re talking podcasts, restaurants, or a blender listing on Amazon, nothing spreads the word faster and encourages adoption more than a 5-star review.
There are many ways to encourage the review of your show; the easiest is to just ask.
This is Love is a podcast all about, well, love. Host Phoebe Judge (of Criminal fame) approaches asking for reviews in a very straightforward way. She inserts a call to action (CTA) seamlessly in the show credits by saying “If you like what we’re doing here with these love stories, please leave us a review on Apple podcasts.”
Simple as that. Take a listen for yourself….the CTA is at 0:42:
Another approach is to reach out to listeners via your social media channels following your episode drop and ask there. The Mad Scientist Podcast went this route and even included an incentive for leaving a review…a sweet sticker:
Along the lines of bribery, you can also try to get reviews by running contests via your social media channels where leaving a review for your show is part of the entry requirements:
No matter your approach, positive reviews are public-facing proof that you produce quality content that is worth listening to, and you can’t go wrong with that.
Leveraging your network
Once you have your content syndicated, a website up and running, and active social media channels, it’s time to start ramping up your promotional efforts. While the idea of networking may sound extremely overwhelming, the best advice is to start small and focus in on your own network.
Begin with letting your friends and family know about your new project. A great way to do that is to post on your personal social media accounts:
Aside from getting those close to you to download and listen, there’s a good chance that they’ll take the initiative and share with their networks. You can even ask them to:
Once everyone in your immediate circle is in the know, you can start to look at other connections in your life. Do you know anyone in the audio or podcast industry? Other podcasters, perhaps?
Earlier, we discussed joining podcast related social media groups as part of your social media strategy. These groups are an easy way to meet other podcasters and find people who are creating similar content. When you find someone whose audience you think has a crossover with yours, drop them a private message, introduce yourself, and ask if they might be open to plugging each other’s shows.
As for what types of cross-promotion you could do, maybe you could recommend each other’s podcasts in an episode, or on social media. Another method used by many pro-podcasters, especially those who are part of podcast networks is to put a sample episode for another show in your feed.
For example, the notable true crime podcast My Favorite Murder dropped an episode of Jensen & Holes: The Murder Squad into their feed back in April. The show was a new addition to Exactly Right Media, the podcast network created by the hosts of My Favorite Murder:
While it’s true that this is an easier feat to accomplish when part of a network because the network handles the negotiations, there’s no reason it can’t work for you too. You’ll never know until you ask, so reach out and start networking!
Thanks for reading the second post in our ‘Podcasting A-Z’ series. The third and final post in the series will be tackling next step promotion tactics…stay tuned!