📸 The 4 Rules of Instagram Engagement for Podcasters 😍
🤸♀️Podcast marketing: let's have some fun.🌈
This week I’m thrilled to introduce you to Katy Hearne-Church, Community Manager at Acast and host of Queens, who will be taking over most of this issue. Katy is a pro in growing podcasts through Instagram—something that I often say engages communities but does not grow them. Katy’s tips got me really excited, and they prove that engagement and growth are not two separate things. And that on Instagram, it’s not just about connecting with your audience, but also understanding them.
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I took Sally’s Radio Boot Camp years ago and it was one of the coolest things I’ve done. So excited about this! Now take it away, Katy!
I want to tell you a word that should get you excited about using Instagram to grow your show. That word is Engagement.
Compared to other social media platforms, Instagram has a higher rate of engagement. This means users are more likely to comment, like and share your content with their friends. And while the serotonin boosts we get from a well performing post is part of the appeal, this also comes with valuable information you can gain about your followers, what they want to hear and what kind of content is resonating with them.
Of course, there is the age-old argument that social media doesn’t actually help podcasters get more downloads. I am personally on the fence about this, but let’s say it’s true. Is it still worth your time? YES! I believe Instagram is a great tool to foster the relationship with your dedicated listeners and get them talking about your podcast with their friends. So, here are a few tips, tricks and hacks you need to be trying in your podcast marketing strategy with Instagram. Let’s call them The Rules of Engagement.
Rule #1: Use the “Questions” feature on your stories.
Get creative! Pose a question about your latest episode and respond to your followers' answers in your stories. This is an opportunity to hear directly from your audience and get feedback in a fun way. Here’s a great example: You could run an Ask Me Anything (or AMA for the cool kids). You might be surprised in the responses you get. You may be missing a topic that your followers are curious about. You could even take the responses you get and turn it into an AMA episode. This gives you listener-generated content and extra incentive for your Instagram followers to press play on your next episode.
Rule #2: It’s not about vanity.
What are vanity metrics? In short– likes and comments. They are the metrics that other people can see. And while it feels nice to have hundreds of likes and dozens of comments, you need to dig deeper to really understand your audience. Saves and shares are the metrics you need to be looking at to determine if your content is resonating. If someone has taken the time out of their day to share one of your posts with a friend– that’s HUGE! Word of mouth is still the number one way people find podcasts, so you want this.
Let me show you an example from my own feed. I designed a mug for our merch store. I don’t speak subtle, so I posted a picture and said “please go buy this mug” (more or less). And then a few days later, I wanted to know if that strategy resonated with our audience. So, I clicked on “View Insights” to dig deeper.
Now I can see that five people shared this post with a friend (hopefully with a message saying “you should buy this very impressively designed mug”) and eleven people saved it to come back to later. I consider this a win as it raised the visibility of the product. If you did this with every post promoting your podcast, you will likely start to see trends that you can use to develop future episodes. Are certain topics shared more consistently? Do you see a spike in saves when trying a new format? Think critically and creatively about what you can do with this free information.
Rule #3: Use the link feature in your stories (but not in posts).
In late 2021, Instagram turned on the link feature for everyone to use! This is HUGE for podcasters. I highly suggest employing the magic of a PodFollow link in your stories to send iOS users one place and Android users to another. (Look at your host's analytics to see what the top apps your listeners are using. Likely, it’s Apple and Spotify, but check often as things change quickly.)
And while we’re talking links… do NOT put them in your main feed posts. They don’t do anything, it doesn’t look nice and Gen Z will mock you.
Rule #4: Engage with other podcasters.
Other podcasters are part of your community, and being visible on someone else’s feed raises awareness of your podcast. Make some friends and start co-creating. Here’s an example I love from The Exploress Podcast.
Here, she takes the topic of Haunting Stories of Women in History and suggests other podcasts that she believes her followers will enjoy. This is so smart because now, all these creators tagged in this post will share onto their own feeds and stories, growing her own visibility and hopefully listener base. In return, these creators will now thing of The Exploress account when they consider cross-promotion.
And if you’re feeling especially extroverted, get together with another podcaster to host an Instagram live. This will notify both of your followers of the event and now a whole new audience will be exposed to your captivating personality which gives them an immediate feel for the type of podcast you host. Take live questions from your audience and theirs to bring the engagement full circle.
Instagram is such a dynamic tool to connect with and better understand your listeners. I’ve really just scratched the surface, but you can check out more here. So, get creative! And if you focus on building meaningful engagement with your followers, you can’t lose.
Bonus tip from Katy:
Bonus tips from Hillary Frank:
This week in Podcast the Newsletter, Hillary Frank (The Longest Shortest Time, Here Lies Me) offered some great growth strategies for podcasters who are about to launch and starting their marketing from scratch:
Think about how you’ll give your audience a stake in your show. Will you interview listeners? Poll them on topics they’d like to hear? Have Q&A or call-in episodes? The more you involve them in the show, the more they’ll want to tell other people about it.
Engage likeminded creators with loyal audiences. Notice I didn’t say “celebrities with huge followings.” Reach out to people who are passionate about the topic of your podcast or share a similar worldview. Ask if they’re down for an interview or some form of cross-promotion. This doesn’t have to be podcast-to-podcast; you can get great conversion rates from newsletters too!
Craft CTAs with specificity. When you ask people to take action, what exactly do you want them to do? Is there a specific question you want them to answer on social media? Do you want them to use a specific hashtag? Is there a specific aspect of your show that you want to encourage fans to mention in reviews? Try to ask for only one thing at a time — and if you have more than one request in an episode, split them up so that they fall at different spots in the show.
Invest in good art. It matters.
Sometimes I publish the best pitch I have received for Podcast the Newsletter. Submit your DYNAMITE pitch to firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to be featured.
I know I tell you to keep pitches short, but a longer note can work if it’s super personal. Here’s an example from Veena of Re-Work. With this email, I don’t feel blasted. I feel hugged.
Thanks so much for encouraging me to pitch! First, I just wanted to say again how much I enjoy your newsletter.
Yesterday was one of my favorite editions between the focus on The Longest Shortest Time, as well as your coverage of Blind Landing and Well-Read Black Girl — I really appreciate how diverse your coverage is. I've also bookmarked your recommendation for Finding Raffi because I loved Finding Fred (so many good tears), and am constantly referring to your 100 marketing tips. Thanks for all that you do -- I learn so much from your newsletter.
And here is the pitch for my show:
Re:Work is a women-led podcast at the UCLA Labor Center that spotlights the voices of workers, immigrants, and communities of color. Re:Work uses stories, in the form of curated interviews, to break down social issues in an understandable way. The show is produced by anthropologist Veena Hampapur and research justice specialist Saba Waheed. We also train community producers and students in multimedia story production because we believe that a public university belongs to the people.
Given the diversity I see in your newsletter, I also wanted to emphasize that we cover a variety of social justice topics — recently, episodes on Black birthworkers in South LA committed to helping women of color experience empowered births; the humanitarian crisis for migrant workers in India caused by the COVID-19 lockdown; the early life of civil rights icon Rev. Lawson, who worked closely with Dr. King. (The links are to very short social media promos to give you an idea of the show if you're interested.)
Thank you for consideration!
I recently put all of the shows hoping to swap here. Now you can take the power into your own hands and see if there’s an audience matched podcast in the market of swapping. Email me at email@example.com if you see a fit for you. Fill out the form here. And if anyone has a the know-how to turn this into an easier-to-browse database, let me know! It’s really growing and I want to make it as simple as possible.
Here are a few shows in the swap library now:
MISREPRESENTED: A podcast that challenges the way we think about world history and South Asia’s role in it. Each episode is a story about a person, place, or thing that isn’t remembered fully or accurately today. But we don’t just unravel the true story - we also tell the story of how the history got twisted in the first place.
Debate This!: A comedy show seeking to answer the questions that no one is asking in video games and comic books. We argue talking-heads style about things like "What color Yoshi is the best?" and "What X-Men would be the worst roommate?"
The Family Vacationer: The podcast dedicated to families that travel. We constantly look for ways to make family travel easier and less stressful. By introducing you to new locations, giving you details on popular places to visit and consulting travel and family experts.
Moonlight Writers Club: A podcast for writers attempting to further their creative goals while juggling the demands of work, home, and remembering to feed the dog. Host Molly Thornton highlights and reimagines the wisdom of new and time-worn craft advice, and interviews writers who have carved out creative careers of their own, or mastered the balancing act of writing with a full life about how they pull it off.
Proud Stutter: A show about changing how we understand and talk about stuttering, one conversation at a time.
Saint Podcast: Saints are everywhere from the names of loved ones to names of cities, movies, books, songs - and more! Saint Podcast is a history and culture podcast about the always fascinating and often controversial lives of the saints. It explores the roots of their legends through pop culture, multi-cultural traditions, and world history.