Woman lying on a couch listening to a podcast on her smart phone Voice Acting

How to Promote a Podcast

In this interview excerpt, Brian Peters from Buffer, the social media management platform, tells us how he and the Buffer team promote their podcast The Science of Social Media.

Brian spoke passionately about how to promote a podcast as his team has experienced some seriously awesome wins in this area of podcast management.

Two Strategies for How to Promote a Podcast

Aside from publishing the show notes and transcripts of every episode, as mentioned in the How to Start a Podcast post Brian shared how both having guests help to promote the podcast, as well as allocating a small budget to paid social ads proved to be monumental to their show’s growth.

“One thing that was really successful for us early on was getting guests on the show, and having them promote [their episode of] the podcast for us. But, then we found that we were running out of ideas for good guests. So we had to think, ‘How are we going to grow the show while not having a guest on every single episode?’

That’s where Facebook and Instagram Advertising came into play. From a podcast promotion perspective, it’s been awesome.

Use Social Media Paid Ads to Promote a Podcast

“To give specific strategies of how we use social ads, what we do is:

  • look at our numbers in Libsyn and iTunes and identify which episodes have the most downloads, and which have the been listened to completely [from start to finish] the most often. So, not just download numbers, but also popularity of the content all the way through the episode.
  • And then we take those episodes and put them into Facebook Ad Manager and target people based on their social media marketing interests first, and then we’ll [narrow it down to] only target iOS users.
  • Then we’ll take them directly to the iTunes store. Instead of leading people to, say, our show notes which is a 2 to 3 step process to get the download, we just point them directly to iTunes because we know they’re on iOS so they’re definitely going to have the podcast app. Then, we’ll promote our best episodes that way.

“It’s actually gotten to the point now where we’re driving 1,000 to 2,000 clicks to our iTunes show via our Facebook advertising for about only $20 per day. Because we were able to identify 2 to 3 episodes that are really popular in terms of these ads, and that drive people right to our show, that increases our listens.”

Now, it’s important to remember that the that level of success that Buffer has achieved doesn’t happen overnight. It’s the product of substantial testing. Brian and his team would have needed to run multiple ads on many of their most popular episodes in order to identify which 2 to 3 episodes were really proving to be fruitful. Getting to that point of success is just a matter of optimizing your ads and learning as you go. Allotting some marketing budget to social paid ads is a really smart way to reach new podcast audiences, even if they’ve heard of your brand before. Brian explains:

“The great part about it, is that we don’t really care if someone has already seen an ad from us, or if they’ve already heard of the Buffer podcast, because with podcasting, people’s habits change from week to week. One week they’ll listen to one podcast, and the next week it’s a different podcast. Unless you’re like a die-hard listener (which, we love all of our listeners), you’re probably not going back to the same podcast every week habitually.

“So, just having those reminders on Facebook and Instagram ads is still great for people who’ve already heard of our podcast. It’s not like we’re losing out if people have already heard of the podcast and see another ad, because it’s just a gentle reminder like, ‘Hey remember this awesome podcast you listened to? Go listen to another episode!’”  

What Goes Into Social Media Advertising for Podcasts

If social media ads are something you’re interested in testing for your own podcast promotion, the other tip we can pass along is to allow an appropriate amount of time to pass so that your ads collect enough data for you to be able to draw solid conclusions.

If you’re working with a smaller, more niche audience (e.g. audiences in the single digit thousands or less), you may need to allow more time for your ads to collect enough data on their click through rates for you to understand which episodes are the high performers. Larger audiences (double digit thousands or more) should be able to collect data a bit quicker and you can draw conclusions in shorter time periods.

No matter what though, testing for a least a month is necessary to understand if the tactic holds success for you. Within that month, testing different ad variations, different episodes, different audience targeting, etc. all need to occur to be a true evaluation of the promotion strategy. That sounds like a lot… but there are tons of online resources to help you with the specific best practices around each of those variables, and more! Simply do a quick Google search on ‘Facebook advertising best practices,’ or whichever social platform you intend to use. Or, use this extensive guide from the Social Media Examiner that contains everything you need to know about getting started with Facebook Ads.

Have you launched a podcast and had to develop a promotion strategy? What tips would you share to help others? Comment below.

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