Growing your podcast can be difficult, finding an audience then convincing them to watch a longform piece of content when they have no relationship with you is the main barrier to this. The best way to grow your podcast is to do it off platform with social media.
Social media encompasses two main facets: impression and expression.
To grow your podcast with social media involves Expression. Sharing your content in hopes of reaching a larger audience and potentially going viral. This can be achieved through vertical reels or TikToks – essentially, sub-one-minute clips.
Social media clips aid what I call the ‘podcast marketing touchpoints’. Similar to marketing touchpoints, which suggest a user encounters your brand seven times before they engage or buy, it’s similar with podcasts.
A podcast consumer has limited space for podcast episodes in their week. So, your podcast would need to displace one of their current favourites to fit into their schedule.
Podcast viewers/listeners rarely go out of their way to find new content. However, social media is pervasive, and your mission should be to get your content in front of as many eyes as possible. This is one of your touchpoints.
Imagine you’re scrolling through Instagram (where you are is your business 😉) and you come across a podcast clip about startups. You’re interested in startups, and Instagram’s algorithm knows this, so it serves you the clip. You enjoy it and continue with your day. The next day, you see another clip from the same podcast, perhaps with a different guest (touchpoint two). After a few of these, you’re slowly building a relationship with this podcast.
In a couple of weeks, you’re on YouTube, looking for something longer, and you see a three-minute clip from the same podcast. You’re not quite ready for a 1-2 hour podcast yet; the podcast hasn’t earned that level of trust. But you can see how we’ve progressed from 45-second clips to 3 minutes, then maybe a 10-minute clip. Soon, you’ll be watching the whole episode. YouTube, in particular, makes it easier to subscribe than social media platforms, which prioritise constant scrolling.
This is why video is not just nice to have, but a must for podcast growth. The engagement with audio clips paired with a static image is far lower than with video.
We also must consider how content is consumed. A large portion of social media video consumers watch videos with the sound off, so captions are essential when sharing clips to social media. Without captions, you might as well not have shared.
Shortform/Longform Progression Matrix
To grow your podcast on social media you need to leverage multiple platforms for growth, understanding what each offers. There’s a clear pattern in social media: understanding it helps make better promotional decisions.
From left to right, the ranges specified in the chart below work without fail.
|Shortest form content||→||→||→||Longest form content|
|Quick to grow||→||→||→||Slowest to grow|
|Little connection with your audience||→||→||→||Strong relationship with your audience|
|Less likely to buy||→||→||→||Engaged with disposable income|
Your mission should be to view your podcast as the raw material for your social media strategy initially. At the beginning, your podcast is not the product; your social media is. Over time, as you move people from left to right on this chart, your podcast becomes the product.
Part of your expression should be consistent content. If you release a podcast once a week, this episode gives you plenty of footage for clips. If your clips provide value, a daily schedule can work. Some believe posting up to four times a week on socials is optimal. I’m in the camp of providing value consistently, which will be rewarded.
Ultimately, views, likes, and comments signal to the algorithm that your content is worth more airtime, thus growing your reach and audience.
Once your content is out there, it’s time to engage with your community or build it by engaging with the wider community. Post a trailer for your new episode and interact with comments. Ask questions to drive the conversation forward; a question is better than a dead-end statement like “thanks”. It’s all about showing these platforms that your followers care enough to stay and chat.
Join communities and create connections. For example, in a van-life Reddit community, don’t just promote your podcast. Be an active member, asking and answering questions. Have your podcast in your profile, but be part of the community. As Gary Vee says, “jab, jab, jab, right hook.” Lead with value, become a respected member of the community, and use topics discussed to create content for your podcast. Then, when relevant, share what you have.
Following users similar to you is good, but doesn’t necessarily mean growth. Engage with these people in their comments and DMs. Your true audience are the people who follow content creators like yourself. For example, if you have a travel podcast, connect with the viewers of other travel podcasts, not just the hosts. Share your content and start conversations with them, especially the most engaged viewers in the comments.
Remember, you’re not trying to force people to watch your podcast; you’re making them aware you exist. Lead with content, lead with value, then show people you exist.