A step-by-step guide to promoting a podcast

You’ve spent significant time planning, prepping and recording your podcast. Here’s how to ensure it attracts the audience it deserves.

You’ve created a podcast. Terrific. Now, how do you get people to listen to it?

Before we launched our Buffer podcast, we spent most of our time and energy getting the sound and feel just right. We did everything we were supposed to do to make it great. Once the time came to press publish, though, we realized that we didn’t know how to promote it.

We began researching all the best tips and strategies for getting a podcast seen by as many people as possible. Below are the top 10 tactics we discovered.

Note: Much of the advice we found focused on how effective iTunes can be for growth and attention. Nieman Lab claims “70 percent of podcast listening happens through iTunes or the native iOS Podcasts app.” That’s why much of the advice below is iTunes related.

1. Leverage your guest’s audience.

Our podcast follows an interview format, where we get to talk to amazing people like Rand Fishkin of Moz and Meghan Keaney Anderson of HubSpot.

These people have big audiences. Fishkin has more than 335,000 Twitter followers, and HubSpot has more than 1 million Facebook fans.

We want to make it easy for our guests to promote their podcast episode. One idea is to send them a note on the day their podcast goes live and include a series of shareable elements, such as pull quotes, images, links and pre-written tweets.

Here’s an example of an image we made for the HubSpot episode:

Here is the email we sent to Fishkin before his episode (feel free to copy it):

This thread on Growth Hackers provides interesting advice on how to treat podcast promotion like content promotion.

2. Promote on social media-in a dozen different ways.

For starters, share an update when an episode goes live. Then, keep sharing:

  • Pin your episode tweet or Facebook post, featuring the iTunes URL.
  • Create quote images in Canva or Pablo. Share these as standalone social media updates with a link to iTunes. Here’s the Canva template we’re using.
  • Create 15-second soundbite clips. Upload to Soundcloud. Then share on Twitter. (People can play the audio right from their Twitter stream.)

  • Tease the next episode 24 hours ahead of time.
  • Reshare the podcast episode multiple times. We do three times to Twitter the first day, twice to Facebook the first week.
  • Talk about the behind-the-scenes stuff in an Instagram story.

3. Release at least three episodes on launch day.

You should have at least three episodes live on launch day. In general, the more the merrier. We completed seven interviews before we launched our podcast, with three episodes planned for launch day and two apiece for the following two weeks.

This multi-launch strategy is a key part to Jason Zook’s plan for hitting the New & Noteworthy section of iTunes, which, as we mentioned above, is a huge way to get traffic.

Zook’s plan hinges on these two concepts:

  • Record and release at least three to five podcasts on launch day.
  • If possible, build your audience before launching.

4. Convert the audio to a YouTube video.

We’d love to be able to repurpose the podcast in as many ways as possible. Some companies do neat things, like mixing live video (on Facebook and Periscope) with the live podcast interview.

We’re keen to add every episode of the podcast to our YouTube channel. With a YouTube version, you get a handful of benefits:

  • Video to share on social media
  • Closed captioning and transcripts automatically from YouTube (great for accessibility if you’re not going to transcribe)

We’re hopeful that our show notes help us rank for long-tail terms in Google, but we’re also excited that a YouTube version could boost our rankings, as well.

Scott Britton used this strategy to good effect with his interview podcast, choosing a specific strategy of ranking for “[Guest Name] Interview.” So for us, this might look like:

  • Rand Fishkin interview
  • Interview with Rand Fishkin

To convert audio (.mp3 for instance) to video (.mov), you can use a variety of different tools. Google’s support center recommends iMovie for Mac users and Windows Live Movie Maker for PC users. I quickly hopped into Screenflow to build a fast video version of our podcast.

Here’s one we made for our first podcast episode:

5. Submit your podcast to podcatchers and aggregators.

Podcatchers are apps that play podcasts. The most popular one is the main podcast app in iOS; it’s the one with the purple icon and a picture of a microphone.

Beyond the iOS podcatcher, there are dozens of other apps that collect and play podcasts, and there are a host of websites that feature new podcasts and assist with discovery.

Here are 10 popular ones:

In many cases, your podcast will work great with any of these services, particularly if you’re already on iTunes. The best bet is trying each app out for yourself to ensure a smooth experience for your listeners.

6. Transcribe the audio.

Many successful podcasts offer a transcript of the show. We’re pulling out highlighted portions of the transcript and including these in the show notes.

Transcripts are great for SEO and collecting leads (you can add lead-capture forms and links to your show notes page). We hope to still capture some of these benefits while saving time and money by not offering a full transcription.

7. Throw a two-week ratings party.

One of the most significant factors in driving a podcast up the charts in iTunes (and into the New & Noteworthy section) is the rate at which you collect downloads and positive reviews in the first couple of weeks.

You have eight weeks from when your podcast launches to land in the New & Noteworthy section. The first two weeks are crucial.

Here are a few party-planning components that can help make these first couple of weeks after the podcast launch feel like an event:

  • Run giveaways (more on this below).
  • Throw an in-person or virtual launch day party.
  • Publish two weeks of podcast-themed blog content.
  • Switch out the email signatures on your personal email and on your team’s support emails.
  • Get your teammates and company execs to post it and tweet about it.
  • Email 10 friends per day.

8. Run a giveaway contest.

The allure of free stuff and discounts can be a powerful motivator to get more listens to your podcast.

If your budget allows, T-shirts, stickers and product discounts make great giveaways. If not, mention winners in the show notes, give shout-outs at the end of the show, or offer a five-minute guest spot on the podcast.

Kick off the contest on social media or by mentioning it on the show. Ask people to leave an iTunes review to enter. (The more reviews you have, the better the chance iTunes will notice you.)

Here’s one we did on Instagram; we hoped to spread the launch of the podcast by encouraging people to @-mention their friends.

9. Find partners to mention you.

If you mention any businesses or brands in your episode, seize the opportunity to reach out to those brands afterward to tell them about being featured.

Also, if you see a connection between your podcast and another brand, a simple email might be enough to do the trick.

10. Be a guest on other podcasts.

Just as movie stars hit the talk show circuit to promote a new film or politicians travel the country before an election, you can head out on a podcast tour and make guest appearances on podcasts in your niche.

Booking guests for regular, weekly podcast episodes can be a challenge. We’re noticing just how much work this planning can be as we fill out the interview calendar for the Buffer podcast.

Many podcasters are likely to appreciate the outreach. Any who take you up on the offer will make for a great promotion opportunity for your new show.

To find a listing of podcasts in your niche, you can visit the iTunes listing page and view podcasts according to dozens of categories. In the “Business” category alone, there are nearly 240 shows.

A version of this article originally appeared on the Buffer blog.

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