Before we get started, if you haven’t already checked out my feature on the undeniable connection between social media and your podcast, click here to do so. It will provide some context on today’s topic.
Without question, there is still a lot of value in social media. But, to some degree, that value is diminishing.
Why? Well, there are several reasons. NOTE: I’m going to use Facebook for these examples since they’re the largest and, honestly, the most troublesome.
First, let’s cover the one of the biggest reasons why building an audience outside of social media is so important:
YOU DON’T OWN THE SPACE!
Let’s say you’ve sunk significant money into building a Facebook page. Over the years, you’ve gained thousands and thousands of Likes on that page. Some of those likes came through organic means, but the majority of your fan base was built through advertisements and paid campaigns.
So your presence is strong. But then, you wake up one morning and Facebook is gone. For whatever reason, Mark Zuckerberg decided it was time to retire and he shut down the shop. He doesn’t care that you’ve spent a ton of money to build your presence on that platform. That money just helped fund his retirement. Now he’s going to buy an island, and you’re left with no presence and a bunch of money flushed down the drain.
You don’t own the space, therefore, any followers you have on that space could disappear with the brain trust pressing a button.
Now, is that going to happen? Probably not. After all, it’s a publicly traded company. But here’s what CAN happen…and for all intents and purposes, it’s about the same.
Facebook can change their algorithm at a moment’s notice and toss a monkey wrench into everything you’ve built. And they’re allowed. It’s theirs, not yours. I’ve been using Facebook for business purposes since it was encouraged that you post a minimum of three times a day on your page to keep your audience engaged. Then the algorithm changed and once a day was suggested. Then the algorithm changed again and even once a day was buried among all of the other millions of people posting.
And I get it. Think about it: this is an old stat, but back 2016, the average Facebook user would use their app three times a day for an average time period of 10 minutes. In that spread out 30-minute space, there’s only so much content a person can consume. So the likelihood of your content getting seen in a newsfeed is low. Unless you pay to have it featured through an ad…
So over the years, the algorithm changed again and again and…wait for it…again. Fast forward to today, organic reach is dead. Facebook is pay to play for brands. This is not a knock on Facebook at all. It was only a matter of time. You can’t run ads on TV for free, so why should you be able to leverage the most trafficked social network on the planet for your company/brand/podcast and not expect to pay for it?
Another reason building your audience outside of social media is important is the general stigma surrounding social media right now. There’s no getting around it, there’s a lot of shit on these platforms. But the biggest problem with that is we are the ones funneling the shit into the platform.
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And that leads to another reason —- all the noise! Figuratively, pushing out links to your podcast on social media platforms is the same as dumping them into the abyss. There are so many people doing this same thing that the majority of people just keep on scrolling and very seldom does someone discover something new. Or does your post even get seen. It’s another example of organic reach being limited.
So, all that said….how do you build your audience outside of social media?
One way is by building an email list. From here, you can communicate with your audience on a number of topics, whether it be the release of a new show, upcoming content, bonus materials and outtakes from your show, even exclusive content available only to newsletter subscribers. You can use your website and podcast to capture new subscribers, and you can run ads on social media as well. Anyone that opts into your email list is proving they want to receive content from you. They may choose to opt out in the future, but you’ll be able to dictate when and how you communicate to them.
An algorithm shift will never change that.
Another approach is focusing on SEO, or Search Engine Optimization. Now, of course, there are algorithms in place with search engines, too. But now that engines like Google are ranking podcasts, if your podcast is properly optimized for search, people can discover your show when they look for solutions relevant to your content.
You can also look at building your presence on YouTube and Pinterest. At one point in time, both these networks got lumped into the social media conversation. But as they’ve evolved, they’ve taken on lives of their own. The searchability each network provides can give you a leg up on other brands not leveraging these spaces to their advantage.
And finally, use your organic feeds for conversations and selling solutions, not products and services. Share relevant content to your industry, share your own blog posts and features…just don’t dump links to your latest podcast release.
Think about it this way: If you sell hammers, people don’t necessarily care that you sell hammers. They care about why YOUR hammer will make pounding nails easier. So produce content that provides those solutions.
Do this with your podcast, too. When you do this, not only will they absorb your content, they’ll buy your hammer and tell their friends to buy one, too!
At its core, social media is designed to be social. So point your organic efforts towards conversation. Start conversations. Join existing conversations. Answer questions. Provide solutions. Don’t constantly sell. Don’t incessantly scream “LISTEN TO MY PODCAST!” at the top of your lungs. Establish yourself as the person or brand that has the answers. That will translate to more people turning their attention your way. And when they do that, they’ll find your podcast ready and waiting.
If this feature makes me sound very anti-social media, please understand – I’m not. I’ve been an active social media user for well over a decade and feel these platforms have brought a lot of value to my life.
That said, am I changing the way I use social media? Absolutely I am. These platforms change all the time. And it’s important that we change along with them or we’ll get left behind.
As much as they may say they do, Facebook doesn’t give a damn about you or me. They give a damn about how much money we put in their pocket. And they’ve earned the right to expect compensation for what they’ve created and how businesses use it to generate exposure, awareness, and cash flow.
Building your audience means it’s YOUR audience. And the more emphasis you start putting on that today, the better off ALL of your efforts will be for the long haul.