Podcasters all agree on one thing: your show needs to be popular to make it in the iTunes New and Noteworthy section.
But this seems counterintuitive to many of us — after all, isn’t getting in the New and Noteworthy section the way to become popular? What’s the point of being featured if you already have an established fan base?
As weird as it may seem, your podcast needs to generate a buzz before it can turn into a beehive of activity. And for that, you’ll need to master the art of attention-grabbing. This publicity will expand your reach, open you up to larger audiences, and secure more downloads.
The truth is, podcasting is more popular than ever. Just a few years ago, podcasters didn’t have to throw elbows to fight their way to the top — there just wasn’t that much competition. Now you have to roll up your sleeves and actually strategize about how to entice listeners.
It’s not enough to just record an episode of your podcast, upload it, and cross your fingers that it resonates with your target audience. That’s not going to get you the download numbers you want. Today we’ll discuss everything you need to know about grabbing the attention of potential listeners.
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If You Build It, They Will Come… Sort Of
Your podcast needs a critical eye (and ear!) if it’s ever going to progress from hobby to professional outfit.
Try to adopt this practice used by fine artists: a painter or sculptor will routinely step back from their work in order to view their accomplishments/failures objectively. This self-criticism, while often harsher than most critiques, is what’s really going to set your show apart from others who take a less analytical approach.
Ask yourself: How does my podcast compare to the ones my audience and I listen to?
Before trying to promote your podcast, make sure these aspects are perfect:
- Sound quality
- Visual art — for each episode and each marketing post
- High quality intro, outro, and segue music
- Show notes
These are what your reviewers are going to be discussing, so nail them and work on getting positive ratings before you attract lots of people who will leave negative reviews, otherwise, you’ll be worse off than before you started promoting.
Rack Up Reviews and Ratings
Call it mob mentality, or jumping on the bandwagon, but people are more inclined to download or buy a product if other people give it glowing recommendations.
The best way to get the ball rolling is by asking everyone you know personally to check out your podcast and leave a review, or, at least, a rating.
Now, don’t spam everyone via email or Facebook by begging for reviews. You have a great show and this act of desperation will cheapen that. Instead, encourage your tribe to subscribe and leave a review as a show of support. You should already be active and present in your target audience’s online communities, so don’t be afraid to ask for this little bump.
Here’s a quick and easy example:
Show your love for the podcast — an iTunes review would be super appreciated!
The best places to ask for subscribers, ratings, and reviews are:
- Email newsletters
- At the end of your show notes
- Bio pages on your social media accounts
Your Target Audience Wants You to Succeed
Why did you decide to start your podcast? Was it because no one else was talking about what you were interested in? Or maybe you thought you could do a show that was better than what was currently out there.
When you successfully identify your target audience, you can learn how to reach them more effectively, so they tune into your podcast and download your episodes. You think about your core listeners when you create your shows, but think about how they spend their online time when it comes to marketing your show to them.
Come up with a chart that answers these questions:
- When is my target audience most often online?
- What social media sites do they use most frequently?
- Do they enjoy content that’s funny and trendy, or do they share more serious news-type articles?
- How will they know that my show will benefit them?
Keep Cross Promoting Your Content
Let’s look at this real world example from successful comedian and podcaster Joe Rogan:
Rogan used the same content for both a Twitter and Instagram post to lure his followers into an episode of his podcast that he premiered the day before. He promoted his content by reaching users from both platforms without doing any additional work.
He mentions his guest for the episode by her handle to drive publicity and traffic to her account. In return, she retweeted his post to her 45k followers.
That one tweet got over 70 retweets and close to 400 likes; the corresponding Instagram post had over 7k likes.
Will this work if you’re not a ‘famous celebrity’? Absolutely.
See, people are busy; they may not have time to check every social media account they follow (or they may not see your post when scrolling through all of their other followers’ content) so it’s important to get over the I-don’t-want-to-annoy-everyone mentality of reposting your content.
Make sure you’re posting your content at the right time, and then keep promoting it from different angles, so your audience won’t tune the new post out. Rogan could have easily just retweeted the link from the original launch podcast, but instead he offered up a new statement that creates a new incentive for an old podcast.
If listeners were busy when they first saw the original post, then reposting gives them a second chance to download the episode that may have slipped their mind.
Nail Your Call to Action
If all you’re doing to promote your podcast is adding a download link after your text that reads something boring like, “New podcast episode is live! Check it out here:”, you’re probably not seeing very high download numbers.
That’s because you’re not being enticing enough. Potential listeners are not seeing the benefits of listening to your podcast thanks to your lame call to action.
The solution: make your call to action something that cannot be ignored by your target audience. See if you like the way this sounds:
“Check out today’s episode: 10 Hiking Backpacks Worth Spending Money On (+10 That Aren’t Worth It). Hear why a quality backpack is a hiker’s best friend: [insert shortened website link]”
In under 160 characters, you should be able to explain exactly what your podcast is about, and why listeners from your target audience need to hear it.
After you record your episode and work on your show notes, grab some key highlights and use them to sum up the episode as a whole. What’s different today than the last show? If I was in an elevator with someone from my target audience, what would I want to say to them before they got off at the next floor?
Notice how we used your website link in the example post instead of the direct link to download the episode. You always want to direct listeners and potential audience members to your website where they can find your awesome show notes, download past episodes, and sign up for your newsletter.
During our article about how to use social media to build an audience, we mentioned the need to get friendly with the competition. Not only will this open you up to a similar audience, but it will also give you the opportunity for cross promotion.
Engaging top influencers in your podcast’s niche is critical for brand awareness. But, if you want to reach hundreds of potential listeners, you have to position yourself as an engager. Once you build a loyal rapport, your influencer may start to take notice and begin posting your content.
According to a study completed by BuzzSumo, “having one influential person sharing your content resulted in 31.8% more social shares. Having three influential people sharing your content doubled the number of social shares. And having five influential people sharing your content almost quadrupled the total number of social shares for an article.”
While all of these tips will help increase your show’s publicity, don’t put the horse before the cart — your content has to be unique and engaging before you start asking people to share it.
Stay in the loop with your target audience and actively participate in their online circles so you’re always fresh in their minds. When it comes time for promoting a new episode, keep sharing and cross promoting with strong calls to action. Work on building a show with high reviews and ratings and watch your tribe grow effortlessly.
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