If you have a podcast, then one of your top priorities will be to increase your audience size. After all, if you create a podcast to which no one listens, does it even matter?
So at first glance, you may think that running Facebook Ads would be an excellent vehicle to promote your podcast and help increase your listening numbers and subscribers. After all, Facebook will allow you to finely target your audience and do it in a very cost-effective way.
My point with this post is not so much to argue that Facebook is inherently a poor platform to advertise podcasts on, but rather to point out that there is a better way to do podcast marketing than most marketers recommend.
There has been a slew of recent posts on how to best advertise podcasts on Facebook, and I fundamentally disagree with the premise of these posts. Here is why:
So what’s the problem with using Facebook Ads to promote your podcast?
The issue has to do with where to send traffic once someone clicks on your ad.
So many marketers recommend promoting Facebook episodes by directly linking to the iTunes or Android episode pages.
- They argue this is better than sending people to a show notes page on your site
- In fact, many of these posts argue that you don’t need show notes pages at all, and can save the time and effort
- They say that iTunes and Stitcher is after all where you want people to go to subscribe to your show
- They advise that this is the best way to capture people on mobile devices, by targeting an iOS audience for the direct link to the iTunes episode, and by targeting Android audience and sending them to the Stitcher episode link
I fundamentally disagree with promoting your iTunes and Stitcher podcast links for the following five reasons:
It Costs Too Much
Sure, your ads may result in getting more subscribers to your podcast on iTunes and Stitcher, but Facebook podcast marketing ads should have a better goal than just to add listeners to your podcast. And the cost per new listener is usually quite high.
Think of it this way, in terms of analytics: “Cost per anonymous listener” IS NOT THE SAME THING AS “Cost per qualified lead or email subscriber.” You could be adding leads for your business, building your email list, increase the rank and traffic for your site, and building a digital asset for your brand.
Instead, you could be getting greater value and ROI from your Facebook ads by focusing on lead generation and list growth instead of on just getting more listeners.
iTunes and Google Play Do Not Need More Traffic From Your Facebook Podcast Marketing
You are paying for traffic that you are sending to iTunes and Google Play Music.
Instead, your site could be benefitting from greater traffic, rank, and authority.
iTunes and Google play traffic may slightly increase your subscriber and listener stats at Libsyn or Blubrry. Of course, this cannot truly be measured, since Facebook won’t know how many listeners subscribed to your show on those platforms.
More importantly, you don’t know whose these listeners are. Since you are not capturing their email address, you have much less of a chance to engage with them, even if they are big fans of your show. If you don’t manage to send them to your website and show pages, you are essentially going on blind dates – without ever even asking for a name. So, a very passive way to promote your podcast.
Instead, your podcast listeners could be coming to YOUR site, because you offer valuable additional episode information there. They could be signing up to receive podcast notifications via email, or finding links and resources about your guests, and downloading these resources from you in exchange for an email address.
So, during your podcast, make sure you mention an easy to remember episode show notes link like “mypodcast.com/132” – and mention this often, for example at the start of the show, create your own mid-roll segment inviting people to visit your site, and include it again in the outro.
No Digital Sharecropping
In my opinion, too many authors, speakers, entrepreneurs and small businesses spread their entire online presence across 3rd party platforms. They want authority and recognition in their space but are also conscious of the promised audience, engagement, ease of use and time savings these platforms promise.
They post all of their valuable intellectual capital and thought leadership content on platforms like Medium, LinkedIn or Facebook instant articles. Their videos exist only on Youtube, their podcasts episode only on Soundcloud, iTunes or Stitcher. In other words, on platforms they themselves don’t own outright, but platforms that have a built-in audience and engagement.
In the long run, this is short-sighted
What to do instead? I am not proposing to avoid these platforms. However, I am saying that traffic to promote your podcast should land on your site.
And this content should live on your own site FIRST AND FOREMOST, and then be shared from there centrally, spreading out to 3rd party platforms for social engagement. Especially if you are using Podcasting as Content Strategy.
The effort involved in creating and maintaining your podcast show notes are well worth it in the long run and pales in comparison to the effort of actually creating your content in the first place. You need to build system for sharing from this central platform only once – the week to week effort of recording episodes and publishing show notes for them adds up only gradually, and much of the process and subsequent syndication of your content can be automated.
For our clients, we specialize in automation of the entire podcast production and publishing workflow, including automatically syndicating your episode content onto many other platforms. The content calendar tools and automation processes we use for this is the topic of another upcoming post, feel free to subscribe to our blog to learn more.
In short, having your own SEO optimized podcast show notes pages allow you to build a much more valuable asset on your site, audience, and email list. Would you not rather have free traffic and rank for your site? Would you not rather earn organic search traffic over time? And I think most marketers would agree that email lists are still the most valuable asset to build for your digital presence. Overlooking the SEO value of your show notes pages is one of the deadly podcast marketing sins I write about elsewhere on this blog.
The Importance of Building A Conversion Optimized Podcast Home Page
If you agree with the idea that your site is a valuable way to gain podcast subscribers, then you will want to build a great conversion optimized podcast home page. We recently published a video walkthrough which showcases a highly converting podcast website design pattern called “The Upside Down Podcast Home Page”.
Analytics & Measuring Performance
How do you measure your investment in Facebook ads? For me the answer is how many people SIGN UP for your podcast or blog, NOT how many more listeners you might be getting on iTunes.
Before running ad campaigns on Facebook, you get to decide the “Goal” of each ad campaign during the setup process. Simply measuring “clicks to a website” is the weakest form of available analytics, yet this is the only goal you can use when sending traffic to iTunes or Stitcher.
Facebook cannot measure who subscribed to your podcast on iTunes or Stitcher, or even if they listened to an episode after clicking on your ad. So how do you optimize or test your ads? If you are sending your ad traffic to iTunes and Stitcher as proposed by many marketers, then the only way you can tell if these ads are even working is to see if your Libsyn or Blubrry stats increased during the time you ran the ad. And of course, even then you don’t know the identity of the people who subscribed.
A better goal is to measure “Conversions”, and Facebook algorithms are more effective in showing your ads to the best possible and highly “converting” audience. However, for this you need to install a “Facebook Pixel” on your site, so that actual sign-ups to your podcast email subscription list can be recorded on Facebook. Having a Facebook Pixel on your site is not complicated, there are great plugins for this. (My favorite is PixelYourSite, which makes installation and managing Facebook Pixels a snap)
Facebook then improves the targeting of who they show your ads to, based on who signed up, and builds in effect a custom audience for your on the fly during the campaign. This results in a much better use of your advertising dollar.
IMHO, having a highly converting home page for your podcast is critically important – to promote your podcast and build a subscriber list outside of iTunes. And so is having episode specific show notes pages. Most good podcasts already do. So if the way you promote your podcast is to be sending Facebook ad traffic directly to your episode pages on iTunes and Stitcher, I’d encourage you to do otherwise.