Your guests are an opportunity for audience growth, part 2

Have you read part one of this two-part series yet? We delve into all things pre-publication production there, part two launches into post-publication plans.

This duo of articles is part of a series on how podcasters can use RadioPublic to grow audience and engagement for their shows. Check out the rest of the series here.

Now that you’ve absorbed all the excellent advice from podcasters on opportunities for audience growth via your podcast guests and done all the hard work of getting the episode done, it’s time to start thinking about what happens after an episode goes out into the world.

After the episode is published:

Yes! You did it! They did it! Cheers all around!

But wait! Once you hit publish, you aren’t done yet. In order for an episode to help with audience growth, there’s a few things you need to do at a bare minimum: you need to provide your guest a link to the show–as well as instructions on how to listen–and make at least one social media post about the show tagging the guest. As Mike from Potterless notes: including the guest’s handle means they’ll also see nice replies to the guest and the episode on social media, and makes it very easy for a listener to follow a guest on social media, as their profile is right there.

Many of the podcasters I spoke with will send an email to a guest with a link to their website or the specific landing page that includes an episode embed (and some of the podcatchers one could use to listen to the show) along with a heartfelt thank you. This is a good way to wrap up your current thread of coordination and communication: graciously, while sharing the fruits of your collective labors.

While email is good, it’s not a requirement for informing a guest an episode is live: Everything Hertz does social media posts as a means of informing a guest the episode is out. They’re modeling social media promotional behavior on their own Twitter feed and they’ve seen some excellent traction from guests with engaged social media followings.

I also heard from nearly everyone I spoke with that they will gently (to seriously) nudge a guest to share an episode on social media, some providing the Twitter handle of the show so a podcaster will see the resulting posts, occasionally writing suggested social media language, or creating custom graphics (Hashtag Higher Ed uses pull quotes to promote the show on Twitter and LinkedIn as well as passing them along to their guests) or an audio-in-video-form clip (Everything Hertz uses Headliner).

Regardless of the level of encouragement you provide, a genuine post or two from a guest about their appearance on your show will always land better than provided stock copy. A great example of a guest exemplifying this behavior is Automattic and WordPress’s co-founder Matt Mullenweg’s blog post highlighting his recent interview on Recode Decode. As Micah Schweizer from HumaNature notes that prompts like “I was on this show talking about” or a more in-depth “This is what I enjoyed about being on the show” helps guests write in their own voice.

Those nudges have varying levels of success, both in terms of seeing posts from guests on social media and the relative success of those posts helping bring new listeners to a show. Micah from HumaNature mentioned that the size of a social media audience doesn’t necessarily correlate to an increase in listeners, rather, it’s a function of how invested the guest is in getting the word out about their appearance on your show. An engaged guest with a smaller following who talks about their episode with their own audience and interacting with your existing listeners can translate into a wider reach than a guest who passively acknowledges an episode is out (liking social media posts, for example, rather than reposting your post or sharing an original post from their account).

To close, there are two things I observed through conversations with podcasters, both are related to the overarching thesis of this series that every episode with a guest is an opportunity for audience development:

No one mentioned a guest as a jumping off point for press. Granted, pitching to media is a challenging task, but it’s a skill that can pay off the more you work on it: continue to pitch and at some point you will get press. Having a guest on a show is a great way to get better: with each guest, you have a new reason to build up your show for someone to take notice. At the very least, a guest that aligns with a particular community will likely have an industry publication or a blog that might be interested, or a local newspaper from where your guest lives.

Remember, your reason for reaching out to drum up some press coverages is not, “I have a guest on my show, enjoy!” but rather the content of the episode and why it’s a good fit for their audience right now. Sometimes that means that a particular guest might become even more relevant given current events–a lawyer talking about immigration law surrounding an executive order or a music historian around the annual Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, for example–so time your press outreach accordingly.

No one provided instructions on how to listen to the episode if a guest has never listened to a podcast before. This might seem small, but given the data about how many people know what a podcast is versus have listened to a podcast before, take a cue from Tara at Five Things: it’s likely your guest hasn’t done so (or that someone in their audience also hasn’t listened before).

A guide to listen to a podcast is something that should live on your website always, so time-saving tip: make that guide once and then continue to pass that along to guests forever.

Here are some tips for writing your own guide to listening to include on your podcast site:

  • Open with a paragraph describing your publishing schedule and explain how someone can listen to a podcast – on the web, on your website with an embed player, or with a podcatcher (and explain what this is – a regular podcast listener may know, a brand-new one might not know how they work yet).
  • Next, tip your hat to people who already listen to podcasts.
    • Encourage them to do a solid for your show–and for podcasts broadly–by helping someone else listen by passing along this guide.
  • Now it’s time to address your new listeners! (This is your most important audience on your website: new listeners to your podcast, but new listeners to podcasts generally.)
    • Be welcoming, as this helpful guide can serve as a gateway to all podcasts, starting with yours. Include step-by-step instructions on how to use provided links to get from this website to a podcatcher to listening to an episode on their phone.
    • Include a suggested episode that serves as the best starting point for a new listener.
    • Remember that podcast listeners use both Apple and Android phones, so provide instructions that address both these audiences (and that RadioPublic links work for both, so the instructions will be the same).
    • Keep words like “subscribe” to a minimum. Connotations of this word for new listeners mean that there can be confusion about how much podcasts cost. Suggest that “following” a show means that they’ll receive new episodes when you publish them, and note why following is beneficial for both you and them.
  • Close with some shoutouts to other podcasts someone can listen next once they’ve enjoyed your show. This is a good way to give props to the shows aligned with yours (those that inspire you, or the shows made by your podcasting pals, or others in your collective/network) and direct new and long-time listeners into other listening.

Two podcasts with good listening guides include 70 Million, with a whole section on how to listen on their website since they know their listeners are likely new to podcasts, and Hillary Rea from Rashomon Podcast, with a how to listen guide that exemplifies her voice and conversational style of the show, as well as linking directly from her podcast’s homepage.

Want a podcast website that guides web visitors to listen to your podcast? A Podsite is designed to do just that, including a simple and beautiful Where To Listen page.

If you’ve gotten this far in our podcast guests as audience growth series, bravo! You’re serious about preparing your show to guide new listeners into podcastlandia and for your guests to be the best podcast ambassadors (and listeners) they can be.

Tried any of these tips or have any audience growth tactics you’ve explored with your podcast guests we didn’t cover here? We’d love to hear of your successes:

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