5 Ways to Promote a Podcast
Before you started your podcast, did you dream about it going viral? Being irresistible to share for anyone who heard it, being picked up by influencers online, and talked about by the hosts of other shows, leading to international acclaim, sponsorship offers and a rush of new clients dazzled by your brilliance?
Very understandable hopes!
What is a lot more likely is that you launched to some really good feedback from your existing audience, moderate sharing on social, and positive reactions from your guests and others. Not quite as exciting, but a perfectly respectable launch.
I hope we’re all on the same page about the fact that creating content isn’t the same as promoting content, and that if you’re going to do the first, in most cases, you’re going to want to invest an equal amount of time or energy or money in the second.
Do you have a podcast?
If so, is it performing the way you want it to? One Stone Creative offers podcast (and online course!) auditing services to help you find ways to improve your work!
(There are times when you won’t need to, like for an internal company podcast, or when you’re podcasting strictly as a means to generate re-purposable content for your business.)
In order of effectiveness, the best 5 ways of promoting your podcast are:
- Direct Email
- Cross Promotion
- Podcast Guesting
- Personal Networking
- Social Media
Let’s talk about each of them.
Direct email is one of the less popular methods of podcast promotion, and that’s probably because it’s the most work, and it takes the most emotional investment! When you’re promoting via direct email, you are looking at each episode you publish and thinking “who would be interested in this? Who would have an audience that is interested in this?”
Then, it’s a matter of sending that person a personal email with a link to your episode, and, this is important! an explanation of why you think they will find it interesting.
That might sound like “Hi Person! I’ve been a follower of yours for some time, and I really enjoyed your recent blog post about this fascinating topic. I thought the conversation your followers had about it was great too, and I recently recorded a podcast episode that deals with this one specific aspect of that conversation. I thought you might be interested in listening to it!”
Notice how it was personal, you demonstrated WHY they’ll think it’s interesting, and didn’t specifically ask them to share. They will if they want to.
All right – let’s talk about the next one – cross-promotion.
Cross-promotion is when one podcast talks about another podcast on their show. It might be something the host reads, or it might be something pre-recorded and inserted during an ad-break. What this does is spread the word about a new show that is likely to be interesting to the audience of the first one. You’ll see this a lot on the big podcast networks – cross-promoting is how they launch and expand new shows.
This is an effective strategy because it’s much easier to get someone who already listens to podcasts to add a show to their roster than it is to get someone who’s never heard a podcast before to listen for the first time.
If you’re not part of a big podcast network, you can still take advantage of cross-promotion – it’s a matter of connecting with other shows that are about the same size, and production quality as yours, reaching out to the host, and making the arrangement for a promotional swap!
After Cross-Promotion, the next best promotion method is being a guest on other people’s podcasts.
In a perfect world, you’ll be so well known that you’re approached by hosts and guest managers from popular shows, and eventually, you might just get there! In the meantime, however, it’s best to go out and pitch yourself.
Research different shows that are targetting an audience similar to yours, and discussing topics that you have expertise in, and listen to a good number of episodes. (Seriously, more than 1, more than 3 – you want to have a really good idea of their style, topics, and audience!) and then see if they have a guest application process. If they do, follow it to the letter.
If they don’t, try and find the contact information for the host and reach out! Just like when you’re promoting with individual emails, you want to make clear up front who you are, why you’re reaching out, why their audience will find your viewpoints valuable and ask if you can have a call to discuss the possibility in more detail. This is important. If you don’t already have a personal relationship, ease in a little bit. It’s easier for someone to agree to a ‘get to know you’ call than committing to having you on their show – so focus on building a relationship and establishing fit!
We actually have a whole ebook about how to pitch yourself as a podcast guest, written in collaboration with Lisa Baker of Authentic Partnership. You can get it right here.
Personal Networking is next on the list. This is the lowest tech of all the promotional methods we’re talking about. As a business owner, you’re probably networking. You’ve got events, and meetings and presentations and lots of time spent talking to other people. When appropriate, talk about your show! If your podcast has been designed to really help your audience, or establish your company as a thought leader in your space, there should be lots of openings in a conversation for you to mention that it exists and that people should listen.
When you’re at a conference or other event, identify specific episodes that the person you’re meeting should listen to, and write down the URL on your business card to give to them. (Having simple URLs for your podcast episodes, and a list of your most popular ones top of mind really helps with this!) Then when you do your conference follow-ups, you can ask if they’ve had a chance to listen yet – it’s great for both continuing your conversations and getting more listeners for your show.
You can use this strategy anytime you’re meeting and greeting.
Finally, let’s talk about Social Media promotion – the most popular, but in our opinion, the least effective podcast promotion method.
Before we get into the details, I want to clarify what I mean when I say least effective – because a lot of podcast sharing happens on social media, and it DOES drive listens for a lot of shows. But it happens a lot more in terms of people asking for recommendations, and people MAKING recommendations based on specific requests for new shows to listen to. It happens much LESS as a result of posting that awesome quotation. In our books, this means that it’s the relationship you build with an influencer – or maybe one of those individual emails you sent that got the results, not the tweet you sent personally, most of the time.
There are always exceptions, and you shouldn’t NOT share your episodes on social media – it’s good marketing hygiene to make sure your content is easily available on the networks where you’re building an audience – but the goal of social networks is to BE social, not to just promote your own stuff. A comprehensive social media strategy takes a lot of time to develop and deploy, and building a receptive, engaged audience is a job in and of itself.
So do it – but don’t count on your tweets and linked in posts to make you famous overnight. Spend your energy building personal relationships that will take you further faster.