A guide to marketing your podcast

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What is a podcast? | Why marketing is a must for podcasts | Podcast marketing: what works | In conclusion | How to learn more

What is a podcast?

A podcast is a serialised audio show delivered via an RSS feed to podcast-listening platforms like Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Spotify. In other words, a podcast is a radio show on-demand.

Why marketing is a must for podcasts

For the purposes of museums and cultural nonprofits, it’s safe to say podcasts are not great marketing tools (or at least that shouldn’t be their primary purpose). They are best thought of like programming, a publication, or an exhibition – a way to extend your mission beyond your building, or even social media, so your audience can access it whenever and wherever they want. (Why are podcasts so popular?)

But you do need to dedicated some time to marketing your podcast if you want the time you invest in making it to be worthwhile. Unlike social media, podcasts are still delivered to subscribers chronologically, not based on relevance or popularity.

Once you have built an audience, podcasts are an amazing way to speak directly to listeners in a really intimate and engaging format. But – as I always like to say – ‘if you build it, they will come’ is NOT a marketing strategy.

Like with any other program or exhibition, you can’t just put your podcast online, mention it once or twice on your social channels or in an email and then assume it will grow on its own from there. People need to hear about the show multiple times before they decide to try it out, and then you’ll want to keep reminding them about new episodes.

Podcast marketing: what works

1. Make your show easy to find and share

This one is simple. Make sure you either have an easy-to-find podcast page (like this one or this one) on your website, created a dedicated podcast website for easy listening (like this one or this one I made using RadioPublic’s Podsite tool), or at the very least, use Pod.Link to get a single link for the show that gives listeners all the links they need to find their show on any platform. Don’t share just an Apple Podcasts link or a Spotify link, etc.

screenshot of Pod-link service

You can use Pod.Link to get a ready-made single-link to your show that includes further links to other listening platforms.

2. People will judge your show on its cover (art)

Make sure your show has compelling artwork that’s easy to read and enjoy in thumbnail size. I love what Seven Stories did for their show Whose Stories? A great description is really important too. Sell your show!

Image of the Whose Stories podcast cover art of a girl sitting on a yellow, purple and orange background with the words 'Whose Stories' in front in white.
3. Cross-platform and bite-size content

The decision to find a podcast in your app of choice and listen to a whole episode is a big commitment when you consider how easy it is to jump in and out of a TikTok video or an online article. So I really like creating more accessible content for social platforms that gets people interested enough to take that next step. Here’s are my two favourite strategies:

Turn your transcript (which you should already have for accessibility purposes) into a blog post; it’s a quick and easy way to re-use some content. And/or use your blog to expand on one aspect of the podcast. Both of these options are great for SEO (search Engine Optimisation) and give you extra content for sharing elsewhere.

Create 30-120 second social media videos using Headliner or a similar program. Grab a clip from your episode that is really compelling on its own or teases something really interesting. Upload it to Headliner, then add a relevant image in the background, a waveform, and captions so people can “listen” without turning on their sound. Headliner lets you create in rectangle, square, and Instagram Story size, so you can put these on all of your social platforms or even embed them on your podcast page on your website. They can be as detailed as The National Archives one below, which has different photos and colours for different quotes, or as simple as text over a plain background with a logo.

Screenshot from Headliner of a podcast from the Vagina Museum

I really recommend at least creating a trailer (2-3 minutes) for your podcast and making a Headliner video for it to announce the launch. If you take nothing else from this resource, that’s the one to use! Below are some examples from heritage podcasts.

Turn the story of the podcast into a Twitter thread (or an Instagram Story or a fun TikTok). Lots of museums already do this with their content. Your podcast already has a story or information. Break the best part into Tweets and share it that way. Link to the podcast at the end and beginning for people who want to know more.

4. Encouraging Word of Mouth

Literally ask people to spread the word (both in the podcast itself and in your marketing)! I like specific calls to action: “Think Black British children’s literature matters? Share Whose Stories? with a friend who thinks that too.” “Love museums? Share this episode of Museums in Strange Places with someone else who loves museums too.”

When you first launch your show, it’s a great chance to generate some buzz. Hype up your launch as much as you can and enlist specific groups or individuals to help share the show to all their networks.

5. Influencers and Communities of Interest

When you are deciding on your guest list, it’s fair game to consider the reach of your guests. Not all your guests have to have a large social following, but those that do can help boost your show by sharing that they’ve been interviewed. It helps to make sure they have links and images handy for easy sharing.

Do what you can as well to include communities of interest who would love your content. A single share in the right Facebook group or email newsletter to a group that is all about your show’s subject is a great way to get new listeners.

If you can get any press for your show (in big news outlets, subject-matter sites, or in local news) that’s very helpful. Typically, reviewers like to have a few episodes to check out at least a month before the launch / the article goes out. So remember to build this into your production schedule.

In conclusion

Don’t make the mistake of putting time and money into producing a podcast only to drop the ball on marketing. Podcasts are an amazing way to engage your audience and extend your mission, but you have to promote them. The good news is that, in my experience, audiences enjoy social video clips, blogs posts, and other types of content. They also love being alerted to a new podcast that’s just their type of show. So good luck, and don’t be afraid to keep promoting your podcast as much as you possibly can. The world deserves to know it exists!

How to learn more

I am just going to include one additional resource: podnews. Podnews is a daily newsletter that’s the place to keep up on the latest in podcasting. You can search on the website for “marketing” or “promoting” and see the latest and greatest in podcast promotion. Or just browse recent editions of the newsletter to find other tips and tricks and stats on podcast listening around the world.