Newsflash: The people who listen to your podcast want to engage with your content. For many, listening is their definition of “engagement”. And for podcasters who take a “radio broadcast” approach to their content, that’s all the engagement warranted.
But podcasting isn’t constrained by the one-way limitations of radio. We, the working podcasters, can and should make it easy for our listeners to go beyond the sounds in their ears as they listen to us.
Today, I'm going to walk you through something very simple that you probably think you're doing right… but it’s highly likely that you might not be. Good news: This is an easy fix!
Inspiration for this nugget of knowledge was inspired by my last-weekend deep-dive into one particular style of podcasting. It doesn't matter what that particular style or genre was, as I’ve seen the problem in every single podcasting genre I’ve listened to. Yours isn’t an exception. There are no exceptions.
I’m talking about “show notes”, a term that is often abused. Specifically, I’m talking about the “show notes” that appear in the podcast app on the device that your listener is using to listen to your episode. Not a webpage or an article. But the textual content that listeners can view while they're listening to your episode.
This may come as a surprise to you, but it doesn’t matter what podcast listening app or service your listener is using. They, just like you, can then click to get more information right in that app running on whatever device they're using as they listen to your show.
If you’ve never done that, you should. Right now. Grab your phone. Open your chosen podcast listening app and get to the most recent episode of your own show. Because you're subscribed to your own show, right?
Once you have it open, click through to get more info. Each app has a different UI, so I can’t tell you exactly how to do this. But it should be fairly obvious. Look at the text that displays here. Yes, you (or someone on your team) wrote that text. That’s the in-app episode-level details -- show notes -- I’m speaking of.
Back to my prior-weekend-binging. Many of the episodes of the genre I was consuming heavily feature a “credit roll” near the end of the episode. Every person involved is mentioned by name, often accompanied by a brief (and often clever) note of their particular role with the episode.
But there’s a problem with names spoken aloud: I don’t know how to spell the names mentioned. So when I wanted to get more information on a person or a studio or something else, I clicked through on the episode to the textual details. Sadly, I was disappointed most of the time.
Clearly the script of these episodes had the names of the people worth mentioning in the credits. But rarely did the podcaster do the simple action of copy/paste.
Chances are, those people worth mentioning have some sort of online presence where more of their skills or personality are on display. But rarely did the podcaster bother to provide links to any of this.
Clearly the podcaster was excited to talk about new show or service since they included it in the audio. But rarely did their excitement lead to the easy action of adding the name of that show/service, let alone a link to more info.
In-app episode details should be context-rich. In-app episode details can contain lots of information that reinforces the information shared in audio. At a bare minimum, if you mention someone or something in the episode, put that name in the episode details, and make their name a link to whatever is the right destination for that person or thing should someone want more information.
Done correctly, in-app episode details -- microcopy, as I call it -- can be invaluable engagement conduits for your listeners. If you tell your listeners “more information is available in the app you're listening on right now”, some will check. They don’t have to go to your website for more info. They don’t have to remember your episode number so they can visit your website later to find the info they were looking for.
But only if you tell them that you’ve put in-app context-rich content inside their listening app.
This is a behavior shift, but one that you, the working podcaster, can drive for your very specific audience.
And yes, I do recognize that a lot of podcast listening happens when people are driving. No, I don’t expect those people to pull over, get their phone out of the cup holder, open up their listening app, and click through because you told them to.
But not everyone is driving as they listen to your show.
And yes, I get that often times people are doing various chores while they are listening. No, I don’t expect someone with soap-covered hands to go digging into their back pocket with sudsy fingers just because you told them to.
But not everyone who listens to your podcast is washing dishes right now.
However, you’ve planted a seed in that person’s mind so that when they get to their destination or have finished cleaning the kitchen, they can go back to that episode on their device -- because the content is still there -- and click through for more information.
You need to see what you’re doing right now with episode details. Whether you or someone else is responsible for publishing your last episode, go look at the episode details on that episode. Is it contextually rich? Does it contain the names of and links to anything mentioned during that episode? Because that’s what this is for. This is how you should encourage engagement with your show.
And yes, I recognize that not all apps, directories, or services do a good job of displaying these episode details. But that’s not an excuse for you to not do them. That problem lies with the app makers. The more podcasters that do a good job with their in-app show notes will give the makers of those apps, directories, and media players more incentive to do a better job.
And also yes, many of the big podcasters do a shitty job with in-app details. But that doesn’t give you a pass. You know that big players can get away with a lot of sins because of their size. And really, here’s one more way you can one-up them. So do it.
I’ll have two more tips to help make your content more shareable this week. But after this week I’m taking a little break. New episodes (and articles like this) of Podcast Pontifications will resume in January 2020.
But that’s just the show. I’m still here, and you can still talk to me via the Flick.group/PodcastPontifications app. I may even release some special content just to that audience. So if you haven’t yet download that free app for your phone, click that link!
And, of course, if you are in business and you need help with your podcast, get in touch with me: firstname.lastname@example.org or go to PodcastLaunch.pro to see a list of what we're doing right now for clients just like you all over the globe.
See you tomorrow for another Podcast Pontifications.