Let's get real for a minute.
Do you like when people come to your door to try to sell you something?
Do you enjoy when you're walking along the street and someone stops you to try to get you to take their flier or get you into their store?
Do you like pop-up ads?
Then stop spamming your podcast!
Here's the deal — I know your podcast is probably great. Your audience likes it. You're probably getting feedback from your listeners. But if you're constantly (keyword here is "constantly") throwing out your latest episode link on social media, to your friends, family, in your groups and all over the place, it may get you a few more listeners, but it's also going to annoy more people.
Icky Promotion Strategy #1: Post and Peace Out
I help run the #PodernFamily group on Facebook. There is a strict "No posting episode links" rule. Does that stop people? NO! That's why posts have to be approved.
What I see the most are the same people posting their link every week. And every week, those posts get denied. The worst thing? These people don't interact in the group, aside from trying to post.
They come in, post their show, then "peace out"!
The worst part of this is there is a designated "Post your new episode" thread every single Monday they can do that in.
Here's the thing with that thread, though. It gets a lot of replies, but very little engagement or conversation. Does that mean people aren't finding new shows in that thread? It's hard to say.
Think about it this way: a group of other podcasters is not your target audience. The people who are into what you talk about on your show are your target audience. You may find a few in podcasting groups on Facebook, but you're probably going to have more luck finding them in groups centered around that niche.
But, again, I'm sure those group owners won't take too kindly to the Post and Peace Out approach when it comes to your podcast.
Icky Promotion Strategy #2: Vague-posting
Yes, you should be promoting your shows, and hopefully in a creative way that will entice people to listen. Not just "Episode 42 is up! Go listen! Listen right now!"
Um, tell me why I should listen! Give it a name that intrigues me. Do you have a cool guest on? That should be in your title, even better if it's closer to the front of the title if they're well-known.
What will I gain from listening to the podcast? Will I laugh? Will I learn something? Will I be inspired? Let me know! I don't just go into unmarked stores, hoping to find cat food. I go into stores I absolutely know has the cat food.
Icky Promotion Strategy #3: Auto-DMing
Have you ever followed someone on Twitter and immediately gotten a message from them? That's an Auto-DM. It's annoying. It's not real engagement. Only a handful actually start a conversation, but many are:
Hey! Thanks for following! Check out my podcast at mypodcastname.com
Subscribe to it on Apple Podcasts at mypodcastname.com/apple
Or on Android at mypodcastname.com/android
And, while you're at it, we have a Patreon you can use to support us at mypodcastname.com/giveusmoney
Don't forget to sign up for our email list at mypodcastname.com/WeSpamYourInbox
Also, we'd like you to send us a lock of your hair and write us into your will ...
(you get the idea)
Whoa there! Slow down! How about liking some Tweets first, then maybe starting a conversation (in public so I know you're not a DM-creep). If you have your Twitter profile set up to showcase your podcast and someone is interested, they know how to click on a link, don't worry. They will see the link and what you Tweet and they can choose to click them all by themselves, without DMs to shove everything in their faces.
Icky Promotion Strategy #4: Paying for Ranking or Gaming the System
On multiple episodes of Libsyn's The Feed, Rob and Elsie have shared that Apple doesn't like it when you try to game the system. We'd all love our chance to be featured in Apple Podcasts, right? But if you get an offer or see someone saying they can get you on the Top 100 charts of Apple Podcasts or into New & Noteworthy, RUN! RUN AWAY!
Not only could paying for this be a waste of money, but Apple has been cracking down on shows that have had this sort of help.
Also, watch out for any articles that mention any of the following:
"You have 8 weeks to get into New & Noteworthy"
"Ratings and reviews help your rankings in Apple Podcasts"
"If someone subscribes, they automatically download all your past episodes"
"Stuff your title, author tag and episode name with as many keywords as you can, even if they have nothing to do with your show"
"Post the direct URL to your posts so bots will click on it and give you more downloads"
"Post about your show every single hour to your social media"
One last thought about this (because, honestly, my jaw is clenched so tight just typing those words above): You want REAL listeners. Not bots. Not numbers on a chart. You want PEOPLE to listen to your show.
Icky Promotion Strategy #5: Not Talking About Your Show
Sounds counter-intuitive, right? I just practically did the equivalent of computer-yelling at you not to spam your show, and here I'm telling you to promote it.
But, see, there's a difference.
When I was in middle school and had no idea how to navigate romantic feelings, I had a crush on a boy. My mom, probably meaning well and not wanting to see her little girl get heartbroken, told me to keep it to myself and to never tell anyone or even act like I liked him.
Can you guess what happened? He never knew I existed. I could probably pick him out in a crowd now, 20 years later, and he wouldn't be able to even guess my name.
You probably know the feeling if you've ever run into someone from your past and they said, "I had a huge crush on you way back when," meanwhile you're scrambling, thinking, "Uh, is his name Matt? Mike? Adam? Crap! I have no idea who this is!"
So, there are instances where you let people know, but like with middle school crushes, you can't just walk across the cafeteria and start making out with them—you have to start with a friendship. Even before that, you have to meet the person and talk to them!
To bring this middle school scenario to real life (er, virtual life, I guess), when you go into a new Facebook group where you know your ideal listeners are, you have to start slow. Like some posts that resonate for your, comment on people's posts with encouragement, start conversations within posts, build yourself up as someone worth knowing in the group.* If they are interested in you and what you have to say, you can mention you have a podcast about it, but no DMing them, no pushing it on them—if they are curious, they'll ask.
(Sidenote: This does not mean drop those essay-length so-called "value bombs" on everyone. Is that trend over yet? I can't be the only one sick of them.)
*By the way, a great resource for learning how to do this is the Getting Clients Without Being Salesy Facebook group. It's business-oriented, but there are a lot of strategies they teach in it that are amazing for any kind of marketing and promotion.
Good Promotion Strategies
I've listed a bunch of promotion strategies for your podcast that are yucky, but I can't just leave this post at that. Here's a quick list of some of the strategies that DO work well for promoting your show:
Have business cards printed up for your show, including your website, social media handles, and email.
Post about your new episodes only a few times a week on Twitter, less frequently on your own Podcast page on Facebook.
Include only a few links to listen on different apps. (Links to the episode on Apple Podcasts, your website, and Android, for example)
Include new episodes in your newsletter.
Invite (but do not require) your guests to share the episode they're on.
Make Audiograms from your podcast episode using a tool like Headliner and post them.
Invite your listeners to share an episode if they found value in it.
Create promotional videos for your show and post them to YouTube.
Go Live in your Facebook group or on your page while you're recording.
Create a promo for your show and ask similar shows if they would be interested in doing a promo swap.
Use hashtags relevant to your content. A good example would be #audiodramasunday on Twitter.
Post behind-the-scene photos to Instagram with information about how to subscribe and listen.
Join HARO (Help a Reporter Out) or reach out to local media to let them know what you're an expert in.
Have shirts, stickers and other swag made with your podcast artwork or logo and do giveaways for it. (I like TeePublic for this.)
Go to local meetups in your niche and meet others interested in the subject.
Make your podcast part of your social media profile information, including easy-to-find links to your show and website.
Make a show worth sharing!
Above all else, start relationships without the intention of turning someone into a listener. Your show may not be for them, and that's OK. You may have a spouse or family member who doesn't listen to your show. That doesn't mean you ignore them, right? (Hopefully you just nodded your head.)
Want to talk more about podcast promotion? Set up a Strategy Session to talk about some of the best ways to promote your show (without being icky).