By: Lee Ann Jackson August 20, 2019

There are 750,000 podcasts in existence and half don’t go pass episode six because at the end of the day, it’s still work . . . podcasts are work.  What matters is who do you want to reach and what does success look like for you?  When you launch a podcast, have a clear idea of who you want to listen to it and a clear idea on how you plan to acquire those listeners.

Having only been home a couple of days following The Podcast Movement Conference in Orlando last week, my suitcase isn’t unpacked.  Instead, my focus is on unpacking my conference notes.  The annual conference included informative and valuable sessions from industry leaders all over the country – with over 100 sessions and a plenary of industry speakers, you can imagine the volume of information presented.

What I’ve learned is that there are a number of principles which could mark the road to a successful podcast, there’s also a list of “must have’s” which every podcaster should keep top of mind – here are three:

Content: Podcasters need to be about creating content listeners can’t get anywhere else. 

One of the attractions of the podcast platform is that unlike radio, it’s without time constraints allowing podcasters to take time to tell the story . . . the rest of the story.   As Stephen Hart, Brand Alignment Specialist and Podcaster, touched on in his session, Brand, Market and Grow Your Amazing Podcast, it’s important to share applicable stories that bring value to your listeners and that will help your listener base grow,

It’s important to make it content listeners can use and that they’ll be excited about  . . . the “Wait, there’s more” kind of content they can engage in and apply to their lives.

The flip side is, while relationship building is stronger on podcasting because you have more time, just as in radio, be mindful of the clock vs. the content dynamic and as  Sheryl Worlsley, Director of Audience Development, KSL Podcasts, shared in the Radio Leaders on Podcasting Strategies session,

You need to edit podcasts depending on content – don’t go any longer than you need to.

Engagement: A key strength of podcasting is engagement – leverage it in your marketing strategy.

Engagement and podcasting go hand-in-hand.  Podcast listeners feel they know the personality behind the microphone . . . use this strength – strategically grow and nurture it:

  • Establish a listener membership program which includes early access to new episodes and exclusive content (bonus: membership programs are a way to potentially monetize your podcast!).
  • People share content because it makes them feel good, smart and cool  . . . so, make your podcast content sharable. (Hint: Do listener surveys to figure out exactly what resonates most with your listeners!)
  • Social Media is all about engagement and it’s a no-brainer when it comes to podcasting.  Two quick and easy social media marketing efforts to grow engagement are using program quotes to create graphics for a strategic Facebook and Instagram campaign as well as posting videos and topic related articles on LinkedIn to steer potential listeners to your podcast.

Community: The Future of Podcasting is Community.

One conference speaker, Zachary Davis, Vice President of Premium Content, Himalaya, explains it like this,

Podcasts give us the feeling of having a friend and the benefit of community – more than just engagement, there’s a deeper spiritual longing present in podcasting.

To fill this need to connect and build this community, speakers shared a variety of ideas including:

  • Ask listeners to write in and share their stories.
  • Set up a membership chat room and take polls or ask your listeners what they think about the podcast – create an environment that feels like they’re meeting you in your living room vs. on the subway.
  • Hold live events and personally invite regional listeners to attend.
  • Social Media is key in building your podcast community (see above!).

Podcast listener growth has been significant and it shows no sign of slowing down.  Who’s to say exactly what radio and podcasting will look like in 5 or ten years, but as we look at the undeniable growth of the podcast platform and the opportunity to reach more audience, we need to consider the question.

As Inside Radio noted, no radio company has invested more in podcasting than iHeartMedia and it was great to hear from iHeartPodcast Network President Conal Byrne in the annual conference’s “Broadcasters Meet Podcasters” track.  Reflecting on how his company is marrying the two mediums, Byrne said:

Podcasting is now central to iHeart . . . this is a permanent new way that a younger demo is going to consume what we call talk radio.

And while Edison Research Senior VP, Tom Webster noted that “the Podcasting space is a bit of a mess” during his keynote conference speech because as he put it, “there is no longer a clear way to define what a podcast is,” also referencing the undeniable growth in podcast listenership, he advised podcasters to do three things:

  1. Be where the listeners are because they will encounter your content, not seek it out.
  2. Live where they are because they are where they are.
  3. Love where they are because they are not going to be corralled anywhere else.

There’s still more unpacking to do as I dig deeper into my Podcast Movement notes . . . as I do, let me know if you have any questions and/or what your podcasting “hot buttons” are by commenting below!



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