Starting a podcast is easy, nowadays easier than ever before. The hard work is growing your audience. The first answer you will probably get from other podcasters or browsing “how to” pieces is using social media.
Of course, using Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and other social media is just part of the strategy. In 2020, Podnews published a three part series on advertising a podcast using various channels.
Remember, it’s 2022 and audio is still not equal to text, images and video on social media. Sure, live audio has somewhat taken off, but that’s something else and I haven’t seen how much on demand listening is really happening on Twitter or Clubhouse.
Facebook announced a year ago it is going to make audio a “first class citizen” (my words, not Zuckerberg’s). A year later the company is pulling out of podcasts and plans to remove them altogether from the social-media service
Still, social media remains one of the go to places even though according to the latest Digital News Report searching the internet and recommendations from others are more popular ways for people to discover new podcasts (social media is at no.3 in Europe).
When it comes to social media, I have been for a long time intrigued by a simple question: How much does a social media presence help your podcast?
I don’t mean that you promote your podcast on social media, that should be obvious. I mean, should you set up a unique social account for your podcast(s)?
I work for SME.sk in Slovakia and the audio team publishes up to 20 podcasts. Of those only a handful have a separate account on Instagram or Facebook. One of the most popular is Piatoček, a weekly satirical news podcast produced by four of my colleagues who used to run a youth web within the publishing house until it was shut down a few years ago.
They managed to grow an audience of more than 32-thousand regular listeners (in a developing podcast market and a country of 5.5 million, quite impressive). I wanted to know how big of a role did social media play. They didn’t track the impact, but I think it is a big one.
Their podcast got reshared by many influencers on Instagram and regularly gets called out by standup comedians. Without an active Instagram account that wouldn’t be possible.
OK, that’s one example. But I was curious what is the case with the most popular podcasts in the world and Europe.
So, I did a small research and looked at the top podcasts in the U.S. (based on Q4 data from Edison Research), France (the most popular app for podcast listening is Apple Podcasts, so I took the latest top 10 podcasts using Chartable charts), Germany (top app is Spotify, based on Online Audio Monitor 2021, again used Chartable charts) and Poland (top app is also Spotify, so again used Chartable charts).
Here are the results:
If I were to classify the four markets into three categories I would say (and this is open for interpretation, so feel free to reach out with a different take), the U.S. is an advanced podcast market, Germany and France are developed podcast markets and Poland is a developing market.
Of course, this is just a small sample of podcasts but I believe we can draw some conclusions.
In the U.S., almost all top podcasts have their own social media accounts on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. The Joe Rogan Experience is a personality driven podcast with Rogan having active accounts on all three networks (not on TikTok) so we could probably say 90% of the top 10 podcasts in the U.S. have their own social media accounts.
In France, Germany and Poland it’s a mixed bag. In all three countries’ the top podcasts fall into two categories: personality driven (comedians, influencers, famous TV personalities) and part of a media network (RTL, France Inter, ZDF, newonce).
One interesting takeaway – TikTok seems to be overlooked by many top podcasts out there, which is an opportunity for others.
When I was browsing Instagram while researching, I stumbled upon Sarah Silverman’s Instagram account filled with clips from her podcast. In the description of the account she wrote: there’s no SS Pod acct [Sarah Silverman Podcast account] so this is basically it.
Another example, Pod Save America podcast from Crooked Media has an Instagram account with zero posts but links to the podcast website with the links to major podcast apps.
The advice you will hear from social media experts is that you should only pick networks and set up accounts there if you can maintain them. To pick fewer and manage them actively. I tend to agree with this assessment.
On the other hand, a social media account for your podcast on networks you do not actively use can serve as a link-in-bio type of situation. If someone wants to recommend your podcast on Instagram, they are not going to look for the accounts of the hosts (some do, but I would say a minority), they will link you podcast account if there is one.
Also, looking at the most developed podcast market, which is the U.S. I would say there is a good precedent of setting up an account for your podcast and try to keep it active at least on the basic level.
So, to answer the question in the title: Yes, it would be probably more helpful in growing your audience, even if it’s just a passive account.
Hi! I'm David Tvrdon, a tech & media journalist and podcaster with a marketing background (and degree). Every week I send out the FWIW by David Tvrdon newsletter on tech, media, audio and journalism.