You have just started a new podcast and are looking for your audience. A podcast audience is usually built slowly, mostly by word of mouth. Personal recommendations have always been the most valuable ways to spread the news about any new product. While it may look better to buy some social media ads, in many podcaster’s experiences, ads on the social media platforms aren’t very effective.
- The podcaster doesn’t specify the audience they want to reach.
- The social media platform has primarily a different audience.
- The ads themselves are not compelling or stand out to get attention.
- The investment is too small to make an impact.
So what do you do to build an audience?
1. Build Your Credibility
Social media isn’t a waste of time. It’s simply how you look at it. Your audience is probably on some or several social media platforms. But which one?
Doing research into your ideal listener will identify which platform you want to be on. It’s not just about what’s the most popular right now. TikTok has a large impact right now, but so did Myspace before Facebook plowed it under. Did anyone predict the recent resurgence of Reddit?
Once you find out where your people are, get there yourself, but don’t proclaim your podcast just yet.
Build your credibility and your name by participating in groups, discussions, comments and messages on the best platform for your brand. Reddit, for example, has participation restrictions written into the platform, but even worse is the audience there. Drop in and announce your podcast without creating a persona there and the other Redditors will react – often not in the way you want.
But Reddit is becoming a big player these days. Even national news magazines like Newsweek use Reddit stories as content now. There are podcasters who are publishing content on Reddit, but they’ve been on the platform for a while. You can go on Reddit and find podcasters promoting episodes because they’ve built an audience.
This sounds very chicken and egg, but in fact, those podcasters did the work on Reddit to start out, and built their credibility before making announcements about their shows. One technique I’ve seen that has been used by new podcasters/Redditors is to enter a conversation with a question for the original poster, and take time communicating with that person before recommending a particular episode in their podcast. So if you’re a new podcaster, you’ll need to build up your library at the same time.
2. It’s About Content and Relationships
This American Life is a highly regarded, popular podcast that started on radio. At one point, someone in that organization decided to take the risk of putting their content out for people to listen on their own schedule, aka a podcast. Back in the day, getting a repeat or rerun was subject to the whims of the producers. Now it’s in our hands as listeners. This makes a different dynamic – one that favors podcasters. We reach our audience on their terms. We have to respect that.
This is why our content makes a play for the audience in more personal and intimate methods. We are asking for the most valuable commodity a listener has: their time. If we’re not respecting that, we’ll never gain their attention.
It’s not only about the quality of the sound in the podcast, although that can’t be ignored or overlooked. Great content delivered in an echoey, hard-to-hear format is just as useless as perfect sound but useless information.
We have to provide content in the way our audience wants to hear it. That’s why we might want to reconsider the “throw it on the wall and see what sticks” method of content development.
Finding out what people want challenges us. But social media platforms have a wealth of answers – when you’re willing to do the research to find out.
Suppose your podcast is about the television smash hit Bridgerton. The next season’s release date is on the lips of every fan. Promos are coming out, theories are discussed. If you’re into historical romance, those discussions can provide you with potential content:
- What is it about that first season that people loved and are looking for in the next?
- What other books/series do these fans follow?
- How does the book series differ from the show?
- How did the producers reproduce the look described in the story into the visual world of TV?
When you know what your audience is asking for, you can provide it. Respect your audience and relate to them. When you’ve earned the right to promote your podcast, then you’ll see your audience grow because you’ve spent the time on social media to get to know them.
Kim Krajci, host of Toastmasters 101 podcast, has been podcasting for 7 years and writing since the creation of the stylus and clay tablets. She also teaches speech and debate and works as a social media manager.