How to Grow a Podcast Audience: Part 1

After the launch phase comes the growth phase. Promoting and marketing your podcast takes work, but the ROI is (at least) threefold:

First and foremost, it’s content at your fingertips. Do you struggle with producing social content — problem solved!

Second, it’s a clear way to see if you’re resonating with your target audience or not — this means more listening and less talking.

Third, watching those numbers grow is ultra-gratifying 😜

While there’s no silver bullet, there are some tactics that — when executed consistently — can reliably grow a real audience. Check out these 6 strategies and consider how you could make them work for your show:

1. Engage with your audience for 10-15 minutes a day

This may sound very obvious but there’s no need to reinvent the wheel!! The best podcasts feel conversational — so keep that conversation going on your social channels. Taking 10-15 minutes to engage with your audience on social media every day can make a big difference in whether or not that audience feels heard and stays loyal to you.

And keep it simple too! Respond to Instagram comments, ask questions, or use different polling and quiz features are a great way to start conversations with your listeners. It’s tedious, but it will strengthen the connection between you and your audience.

2. Create a podcast trailer

This applies to both established shows or new podcasts with just a handful of episodes. A podcast trailer pinned to the top of your feed is a great way to introduce you, your topic and any guests. Include snippets from the episode to entice listeners to subscribe. People are far more willing to listen to a trailer before investing time into a whole episode, but you can’t just give them a clip of a previous episode with zero context. You have to create something that sells the overall value of that episode AND your show. But keep it short — a few seconds to a minute tops.

3. Be strategic in your show’s name

Your show’s name should be one of your biggest priorities. Some might say it’s the most important part of your launch. Have you already started your show to only experience a little name-regret — don’t fret! If you have to change your show’s name, do it sooner rather than later, and only do it once. Here are some criteria we’d recommend:

  • Name it after what your ideal listener cares about, which might not necessarily be your company name. Think about industry keywords here.
  • Pick something that makes it easier to find you on podcast players. You will better reach your ideal listeners if your name revolves around what they are searching for.
  • Ultimately your name should show our dedication to the listeners. If it sounds like you’re only going to talk about yourself, that first impression might be a turn off.

What Your Gen Z Employees Expect of You

What were once workplace perks, like flexibility and mental health days, are now bare requirements. Why does Gen Z feel they warrant such asks? They’re eager to learn, actively seek out challenges, and have higher expectations than any generation before them. In short: they’re the boldest generation yet. If we, as leaders, can understand and harness this tech-native generation, our organizations can do more, better, and faster.

Here’s what Gen Z is looking for in their current and future employers:

1. Flexibility

We can thank the cloud for this. Now that it’s possible for everyone to work from anywhere at any time, Gen Z desires permanent flexible work options. For many of them, remote and hybrid work aids their productivity by eliminating workplace distractions. They also value their personal life as much as their professional life. Flexibility in their schedule means they don’t have to compromise on their freedom and will likely stay more engaged within your organization.

2. Mental health support

The oldest of Gen Z have seen a recession, politics at its worst, a global pandemic, a war, and have a recession in their future. Can you blame them for feeling stressed? In general, Gen Z’s parents were much more straightforward and truthful with their children than Millennials’ parents were with them. While this has made them competitive and driven, they’ve also been acutely aware of micro and macro issues for a long time. They desire a workplace that they deem healthy, and the resources and support to back that up. Empathetic leadership and a culture of wellbeing goes far with this group, along with policies and programs that offer mental health support.

3. Real diversity and inclusion

Gen Z has participated in more social causes than anyone before them. They have high standards when it comes to diversity and equality, demanding tangible action to design inclusive environments for all forms of identity. It’s not enough to say it in a meeting or a memo — they want to know how your policies facilitate real, authentic commitment to their values.

4. Access to tech

There are some very important dots to connect when it comes to technology and Gen Z’s productivity. Brought up in an environment that offered them constant contact with the latest and greatest from Silicon Valley, this generation thrives when paired with the latest tools and tech. Forcing them to operate using traditional methods over automation, for example, will hinder their work flow. See them as your in-house consultant on how you can implement new technologies in your organization in a way that enhances everyone’s performance. It’s their sandbox, after all.

Considering a rebrand? Think again

1. Launch a new campaign

Maybe you don’t need a brand overhaul, you just need a fresh message. Launching a new campaign can breathe new life in your brand without changing who you are at your core. This can be a great opportunity to internally and externally reconnect and re-communicate the core values of your organization. Get creative and give people something to talk about. If the roots are healthy — don’t cut down the tree.

2. Audit your content

Is your brand’s voice getting lost in the sauce? This might be a good time to audit themes that don’t necessarily support where your brand is headed next. Streamlining your messaging can effectively create brand consistency — without the price tag of a full rebrand.

3. Have a conversation with your customers

Maybe you’re feeling a little lost because you haven’t heard from your customers in awhile. Remember — communication is a two-way street. It’s never been easier to create ongoing dialogue with your target audience than right now. Engagement = equity. Hop on your social channels and actually read what people are saying about you. Chime in with meaningful contributions that exhibit your brand’s values, humor, and human side. Changing a logo won’t mean much if your audience feels like you aren’t listening anyway.

4. You are not your brand

Listen, we know that some of the most captivating brands are spearheaded and driven by individuals. However, this can get dicey if there isn’t enough clarity on where the leader stops and the brand begins. Feeling aligned to your organization’s brand on a personal level is a beautiful thing — providing that brand is a good fit for your team and customers too. Before you pull the trigger on a rebrand, ask yourself, “Is the brand changing or am I?” If there’s not a company-specific problem to solve, don’t change what’s working.

Ultimately a need for a rebrand comes down to a case-by-case basis. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to put your best face forward! Looking for someone to hear you out on your brand’s positioning? Let’s chat.

Pop culture trends and going viral

So we’ve piqued your interest — now, how do you “go viral”?

First and foremost, you’ve got to do your research. Before you hop on a trend, dig into the source and the context. You also have to consider how a piece of content may be interpreted by different audiences. It’s always wise to run a trend-driven post by your peers and wait for their input — it might just be your saving grace. Once you have a process in place for risk management, it’s time to dive into what’s got people talking.

You’ve heard the saying “good things never last” — well consider that the law of land where marketing and memes intersect. To authentically qualify as part of “the trend,” your team will need to collect and execute posting the content in 24 to 48 hours. After that, a trend can start to become oversaturated and, frankly, tired. If you want to keep audiences engaged and connected, you must maintain your social media accounts with proactivity. Here’s some do’s and don’ts to jumping on trends:

Do crackdown on fake news.

Now you might say, “Obviously?” But posting fake news in a facetious way has become a popular form of content marketing. You don’t need to be serious 24/7, just make sure your audience knows when you are joking.

Do keep things neutral.

While politics might be an easy target for memes, it’s best to stay out of those conversations. Overly politically charged trends can result in a PR mess for your brand.

Don’t focus only on sales.

Consumers want to feel a connection to your brand, and if they don’t feel that, you are not relevant to them. This is a way for you to include them in more of your brand story without pushing another ad to their feed.

Do stay relevant.

Those are the keys to keeping up with trends. Don’t be afraid to take risks, just take the time to discern a good risk from a bad risk.

In summary, keeping tabs on social media trends in your day-to-day marketing strategy can help your brand appear relevant and informed, while giving you access to digital conversations you otherwise might have been excluded from. Be certain, however, that your timing and involvement is appropriate for your brands image.

Why we work “above the line”

This manifests in our business as behaviors that indicate openness, security in each team member’s place in our organization, and taking accountability and responsibility. When we operate above the line, we see everything through the lens of a creator — as having the ability to impact and learn from our environment. This keeps us open, curious, and committed to learning.

Whenever we begin to explore a potential new partnership, we express that our entire team operates above the line.

  • We are open to new ideas and ways of doing things.
  • We let go of any need to be right.
  • We take responsibility, and forgo blaming or criticizing.
  • We abandon any notion of scarcity and believe in abundance, regardless of how competitive an industry is.
  • We are honest in our dialogue and seek solutions first.
  • We believe in continuous learning and education.

If everyone is aligned, we know that the partnership will be a highly productive, long term venture; where we and the client both win.

Curious about Above the Line Leadership? You can learn more here.

Conquering your organization’s lack of innovation

1. Teach your employees to see themselves as innovators

Chances probably are, your next handful of innovative ideas are already within your four walls. However, if you don’t have a system in place to properly foster innovation, ideas that come down the pipeline might seem half-baked or straight-up batty. This might require you to revisit your organization’s competencies and assets (you don’t sell a product, you sell a solution), remind your team that customers are people (not numbers), and encourage a culture that challenges invisible industry “rules.” Disruption frequently metamorphosizes into innovation.

2. Invite retroactive process feedback

Sometimes the most powerful innovations are just small tweaks to current systems and procedures. A regular retroactive process feedback meeting is a way to keep your team feeling involved, heard, and trusted in bringing new ideas forward. Collectively, your team is a knowledge and experience powerhouse — so use it!

3. Make learning the new normal

Innovation comes from employees who are constantly learning. A great way to inspire learning is for employees to take turns sharing a piece of industry news at weekly meetings (we do this!). It gives your team the leeway to learn on the job, the space to reflect on their own, and finally, ownership of the collaborative dynamics that come from bringing something new to the table.

4. Start with you

At the very least, innovation is overwhelming. That’s why it’s imperative to start small with simpler initiatives before moving on. This not only helps you build inclusion, trust, and openness with your team, but also gives you a chance to get your feet wet first. Think about how you may need to change personally to create an open, participatory culture that unleashes innovation.
You may have to shift your identity from “powerful leader” to “leader that innovates through shared power,” and that’s ok!