Podcasts have exploded in the last couple of years. And if yours has been left behind, you need to fix it. For a format that in some ways took its cues from the old-school radio play, podcasts are a shockingly popular medium among young people. According to LinkedIn, 42 percent of those between the ages of 18 and 34 listen to podcasts.
Simply put, podcasts are going up in popularity, while blogs are going down.
It’s odd — in an age where everything is designed to appeal to more senses, to have higher fidelity, the content that’s gaining popularity takes more inspiration from Prairie Home Companion than Avatar.
To take advantage of podcasts, you need to build your reach and find ways to get more people to listen. And to do that, you have to think outside the box:
1. Use your guests.
You would be shocked how accessible some of the people you follow on social media are.
I’ve noticed this myself — there’ve been several people that I’ve reached out to on Twitter or Instagram or Facebook that have been perfectly willing to hear me out when I would have thought they were too big.
Be strategic in how you choose guests to go after. Study the niche you’re podcasting in, and figure out who the biggest influencers are. If you can get them on your podcast and then have them promote across all the social media channels they control, you’ll grow explosively.
Reach out to people that might be interested, especially if there’s already a connection there. Let their network grow your audience.
2. Use radio show tactics to create an engaging experience.
NPR knows a thing or two about how to engage people with an audio format. They’ve been doing it for 47 years, in fact.
One of the most helpful tips NPR One Managing Editor Tamar Charney suggests is based on the unique characteristics of a podcast: Re-engage listeners every two to five minutes. Podcasts have their biggest audience at the beginning and smallest at the end, whereas radio shows tend to have a fairly constant audience throughout.
Eighteen to 30 minutes is often a good sweet spot for overall length, though it doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. The Giant Bombcast has consistently been one of the most popular podcasts in the video games section and its episodes routinely cross the three-hour threshold with rambling conversations and banter — but it has the benefit of a community that’s already on board with its vision.
If you’re starting from scratch, it may be better to err on the short side.
3. Keep consistent — there’s no getting around it.
This seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many shows you’ll find even in the iTunes “New and Noteworthy” section that aren’t being updated consistently.
It’s a good idea to build up a reserve of podcast episodes before you launch so you can keep the show going even if things get a little hectic. And once you have the audience, make sure you’re constantly providing them with new content. Don’t leave it half-done.
4. There’s no shame in asking for reviews.
Actively solicit reviews. Podcast platforms favor well-reviewed and frequently reviewed podcasts over their less-frequented cousins. If you’re not constantly getting a stream of reviews, try to boost them.
Monitor social media for mentions of your podcast, and when people mention that they’ve been listening, engage with them. Ask them if they’ll leave a review if they liked the podcast — if you’re providing useful value for them, they’re likely to be favorable enough to you to take action.
Make sure you leave CTAs for reviews in places where your listeners will see them, too. Mention it at the end of the podcast. Mention it when you push out links through social media. If you know some of your guests well, ask if they’ll ask for reviews when they push out links themselves.
5. Use giveaways to your advantage.
This is a time-honored strategy that many have used to grow their podcast. But, to really take advantage of it, there are a few things you have to do.
First, make sure you ask for a review — an honest review, not a good one — as a prerequisite. Then make sure that whatever you’re offering is both valuable and relevant to what your podcast is about.
If you’re offering something that has broad market appeal — for example, electronics, cash, general-purpose gift cards or other such items — you’ll get deluged with people who don’t actually care about your subject. They just want free stuff.
You can contact companies to give you product to use for the giveaway so they can grow their audience, too. This has the bonus effect of you tapping their network to promote your podcast as well. Then send subscribers reminder emails, and stamp them with how much time is left.
You’ll be shocked how useful this tactic can be.
Podcasts are an essential part of any successful business these days, and they’re a crucial tool for reaching your most important future demographics. You can use these tactics to grow your audience to seven figures. So don’t delay. Because the longer you wait, the faster your competitors will figure it out. Do it today and reap the benefits.