Sharing Is Caring (About Your Podcast)
Podcasters want to make shows so fantastic our listeners are compelled to share our work. So I’m puzzled when great shows fail to do the basics, making that way too hard on their fans (especially when it’s easy to get it right)! Here’s how to fix it:
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Yesterday, I was listening to a podcast with my lovely wife, Sheila Dee. We have a playlist of shows that we listen to only when the two of us are together. Audio dramas, storytelling show, and documentaries tend to dominate that list, rather than quick episodic content.
We started listening to a new show and both of us really enjoyed it. And only because it was nice and loud, making it perfect for listening over the car’s sound system. (Note to self: I may talk a little bit later on this week about that importance of making your episodes “audible”). It was good content, well produced, had great sound, a commitment to quality, was written with an engaging storyline, featured very good voice actors... all the things we like in a show.
Because I'm a good person who appreciates that sort of dedication, I wanted to share the show with others. Some applications like Overcast (thank you, Marco) and a few others have made audio clip sharing very easy. But I still use the Apple Podcasts native app to subscribe and listen to most shows simply because that's what the majority of listeners utilize. It's important to me to not only understand but to actually experience podcasting the way most people do.
But I’m smart enough not to share a link directly to the show in Apple Podcasts with my social network. Android phones have a bigger market share than iPhones, and the Apple Podcasts does nothing but frustrate Android users. Instead, I try to share a web page that I know anyone can pull up on their device. Contrary to popular belief, me saying “listen to this!” isn’t quite enough for my modest social following. But they might click through, sample the audio, maybe read about the show, and generally examine the content to determine if it seems to be the right kind of content for them.
Sadly, nowhere in the episode details could I find a link to the “episode webpage”. That's a field provided by your hosting company that goes into your RSS feed. It’s sometimes called “permalink”, but it’s there so that listening apps can provide a “get more details about this episode at…” sort of experience. Just like I was looking for.
There wasn't one.
And I see that far too often.
Stop making it hard for listeners to share your podcast!
Too many podcasters (or at least the person posting the episode) fail to put this link to a webpage about the episode. That I can’t easily share it, and there are only so many hoops I’m willing to jump through when trying to share a show. And I’m not alone.
Worse, the name of the show was a single word. A common noun. I think it’s a fine name for the show and I’m not recommending they change it. But it did make it very hard to search for the show. Using “showname + podcast” gave me plenty of listings. But the website for the show wasn't one of the top listings. So I had to work harder to share it. Harder, I think, than most people are willing to work to share a fantastic show. Let alone just a good one.
If there’s a silver lining, it’s that the show in question was a big and popular show. They can probably get away with not caring about the sharability factor. That show has a big advertising budget and is part of a network of other big shows, so they get plenty of exposure for the show without making it easier for us little people to share it.
But if your show isn’t part of a big network, and if you don’t have a big advertising budget, you can’t afford to make this mistake.
You want to make sure your episodes and your entire show can be shared easily. In absence of a big ad budget or built-in “network effect”, having your fans share the show is really the only way to get your show to grow. Somebody shares your episode.
So you should do everything you can to make it shareable!
And by “everything”, I mean these two things, which are dead simple:
- Use the permalink your hosting company provides for each and every episode so that the “episode webpage” shows up for listeners of your show.
- In the written episode details -- the “show notes” that show up in the podcast listening app -- put in a link to your show’s website.
Yes, I know you’re saying out loud the URL of your website. That’s great for people who only listen (the majority of your listeners, by the way, will only listen). But for those who feel compelled to share, make it easy for them!
It is so easy to follow this best practice. And yet obviously more easy not to do it, evidence suggests. I think a lot of podcasters take their “what should I do” marching orders from what the big shows do. That may be fine for overall concepts and strategies, but it often leads to terrible tactics. Big shows can get away with sloppy implementations and skimping on best practices because they are big. Big is different. Big has forces at play that often negate or compensate for low-level mistakes.
But if your show is not already not big, you've can’t afford to follow their missteps. You have to get these fundamentals right. Every time.
Here’s your action item for the day: Open up your podcast in your podcast player of choice. Go to your most recent episode and see if you have a way for someone to easily access the webpage you have for this episode AND easily access your overall website for your show.
If not, fix it. Yes, for all of your episodes. Yes, even if you've released some 300 episodes and you haven't done it on any old episodes. I don't care. Go back and fix it. Please?
This is just one thing -- one very important thing you can do -- to make your podcast better. Oh, and it’ll make the podcast listening experience for your listeners better… and easier.
I shall be back tomorrow with yet another Podcast Pontifications.