Sep 4, 2019
Today I'm continuing the conversation inspired by Tom Webster's excellent article entitled Three Ways to Survive Podcasting’s Existential Crisis. From that, yesterday I told you that you and your podcast’s episodes need to be everywhere these noobies (rookies, in Tom’s lingo) are finding and consuming podcasts. Places you and I, the working podcaster, barely recognize as a valid place to listen to podcasts
After breaking the news that you’d need to spend even more time to get your show on those platforms, I also hinted that I might have more work for you today. And I do. Because it's not just a matter of your podcast being on all these different platforms that you hadn't considered before. The episodes of your podcast need to live on all those different platforms.
Why does your podcast need to live there? Because that's where the new crop of listeners live. And they don’t really care to change where they live and where they are happily consuming content a lot like yours. Because doing so only suits your misguided needs.
Let me give you an illustration of what I mean by that. The other day I didn't feel like making dinner, so I used Door Dash to order a pizza from my local pizzeria. 30 minutes later, the pizzas were delivered and I was happily noshing on some ‘za.
Here’s what didn’t happen: I didn’t open the lid to the pizza to find a note from the pizza maker saying something like,
“Glad you're enjoying this pizza. However, we'd really like it if you would come into our pizzeria. Next time, just make the short drive over here because you'll get the smells and the sounds of a real pizzeria. We've got 47 craft beers on tap, our servers are quite friendly, and you really shouldn't be eating your pizza at home.”
That didn't happen. And that never happens. Why? Because the pizzeria owner is smarter than most podcasters. The pizzeria owner is letting his pizza live where I chose to live.
All too often, podcasters begrudgingly put their podcast episodes in places or on platforms that they don't think of as valid podcast listening environments. We need to stop doing that. Instead, we need to recognize and accept people’s choices and focus instead on making sure our content lives where these people live. Just like I didn't want to get up out of my chair and drive to the pizzeria, people don't want to leave their chosen place when that place is, for them, a completely valid place to consume a podcast episode.
It's incumbent upon us, the working podcasters, to make sure that our content lives where these new listeners -- our potential audience members -- live.
Here's a quick decision tree to help you evaluate how your content can live on a particular platform.
If not, then you can’t do much more than just share a link to your episode, which is probably what you’re doing now. But you really should only do that if the platform doesn’t allow native multimedia (note I didn’t say “audio”) content. If the answer is yes, proceed with...
Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram all hate audio-only content. By hate, I mean you cannot natively upload an audio file to those (and more) platforms. You can, however, upload a video. And a key component to video is audio. Yes, so you probably can do that. If you have the resources. The good news is that the resources to make the kind of native content these platforms want is more accessible than ever.
I’m sure there’s a way to force IGTV or Periscope - both designed for the sharing of live content -- to take pre-recorded video or a long audiogram. But that’s not what the people who live on those platforms want. And Twitter prohibits native videos just over two minutes long, so it may not be practical to whittle down an entire episode to that length. (Though if you can, then your episode is too long. But that’s a conversation for another time.) But if you can make native content appropriate to the platform, you definitely should. Because the people on that platform are making the choice to live there and consume podcast episodes there. They live there. And if your episodes can also comfortably live there, they should live there.
Pro tip: Don’t pile up your assumptions onto others. You are free to think Facebook is a terrible place to consume a long podcast episode. But people still do it, and they don’t care what you think. Smart podcasters won’t cast judgment or attempt to force their version of “normal” behavior. Smart podcasters will, so long as it fits and is appropriate, make sure their episodes can live natively where these rookies live and listen to podcasts.
This isn’t just content repurposing. This is deliberate content repurposing, and all the work that comes with that. That’s why you put your podcast episode on your website with an embedded player, a very detailed article created from the contents of the episode, a human-created transcript, and everything else necessary to make an amazing web page.
But that’s also why you don’t just send that webpage out as a newsletter. You know that media players don’t work in most email clients, and you know that people consume emailed newsletters quite differently than they consume web pages. They live differently in their inbox than they live in a browser.
Right now, with the current podcast tech providers, it’s no small feat to make our episodes specific for each of the various podcast platforms. But we should be doing that. Why? Because “rate, review, and subscribe” isn’t an option on all platforms! So until we can create episodes specific to platforms, I have a stop-gap method I want everyone to adopt:
Stop asking people to rate, review, and subscribe to your podcast inside of your episodes!
It’s a waste of time and annoying to the people who are already on their platform of choice when they hear it. They are living where they want to live and they are consuming your content! You don't need to beat him over the head with a pointless “call to action”.
Yes, I know that conventional wisdom from YouTube stars is that you should say “rate, review, and subscribe!” at the end of your episodes. But until someone shows me definitive proof that that actually works, I'm going to say it's a waste of time. Every listener/viewer on that platform knows how to use the features of that platform. If they want to make a stronger commitment by subscribing, following, or whatever, they’ll do it because your content deserves it. Not because you reminded them how their chosen platform works.
Your job is to make sure your podcast’s content lives where they live.
Tomorrow I’ll wrap all of this together to bring this miniseries to an end. But before I go; three things:
I shall be back tomorrow with another Podcast Pontifications.