No podcast, no matter how well produced, has found its audience right away. Some shows go on for years before they pick up enough steam to attract advertisers and hit that point where their audience size alone makes the show easier to find and subscribe to. So, how do you promote your podcast?
Social media is possibly the most current and efficient way to promote anything you want to get the word out about. If you have a video podcast that you send out through YouTube, Google+ and Facebook are both great ways to share your work and build conversation around it. Twitter, MySpace, Empire Avenue, and other networks are also great ways to spread the word. Empire Avenue, while not as mainstream as many others, allows you to build and create buzz around your brand.
Encourage your listeners to follow you and stay connected with each other through your social pages. By freeing yourself from restrictive dedicated forums, you open the conversation up and make it easier for people unaware of your show to find you and immediately join in the conversation.
While some podcasters see giveaways as a method of buying your audience, there’s a majority that see it as a way to give back to the community. If your podcast focuses on a subject related to a particular product type, reach out to manufacturers and ask about doing a review on your show. There’s a chance they’ll send you a review unit to try out. You can ask them if they would like to do a giveaway with it, or additional units, as a form of cross promotion. Most good PR reps will jump at the opportunity to cheaply sponsor a giveaway, knowing that the participants that don’t “win” the hot item will be more inclined to make the purchase. App developers (especially those who work on iOS) are often very happy to offer free codes for their products as a way of sponsoring a giveaway, as well.
The immediate impact of a giveaway can be seen in viewer counts, discussion, and other beneficial side effects. In fact, if you make a requirement of a giveaway revolve around some form of social engagement that pulls their followers in as well, all the better.
Special Guest Appearances
Offering another (similar) podcast the opportunity to promote themselves by appearing on your show can be a great way to promote your own show, as well. The other host visiting your show will usually plug the appearance through their social streams (hence bringing their audience to your podcast) and, if the interview goes well enough, will often invite you to do the same. Cross promotion is a great way to get the word out about your podcast to an audience that is already demonstrating an active interest in podcasting and/or your particular subject of interest. Traditional ideals of competition and hesitance to cross-promote is a byproduct of old media, and one of those practices that keeps old media from successfully dominating in today’s socially-driven media environment.
Tease, Tease, Tease
At the end of your podcast, spare a few moments to let the audience know what’s ahead for the next episode. This doesn’t have to be complete and encompassing, but it does reassure and remind your audience that this is a regular podcast and a new episode can be expected at a given period of time. Some Internet shows choose to do a false tease (for example, Scam School) that replaces genuine expectations with a one-liner that will make your audience chuckle. While it may seem that this does little good towards actually bringing your audience back, it does work to reassure the audience that more episodes are on the way, and they will no doubt be as fun as the one they just experienced.
Teasing future episodes through social and traditional channels can also be a great way to build anticipation for the next episode. Posting about something humorous that happened behind the scenes, a quick reflection of what happened shortly after taping, and exclamations of excitement over an upcoming guest are all great ways to build momentum with your audience leading in to the episode’s release. Behind the scenes photos and other media work very well for this purpose, as well.
It would be hard for me to write about podcast promotion without taking a moment to mention advertising. Advertising is a great way to get the word out and build brand recognition among people who have never seen your program, and don’t likely know anyone who has. When a podcast is first starting out, this can be a great way to generate initial buzz, especially if you plan to launch the series with something truly very special. Be careful with advertising as it can be an expensive process that may see limited results if you fail to deliver on promises made in the ads. Keep it simple and entertaining.
Over all, it doesn’t matter how you promote your podcast if the content doesn’t live up to the expectations you set. Be honest with folks, and don’t be afraid to be yourself when promoting your content. Chances are, your potential viewers will recognize and respect that above any gimmick you could come up with.