Last Updated on April 26, 2021
You may think running Facebook Ads would be an excellent vehicle to promote a podcast. Facebook ads allow you to precisely target your audience amd promise to increase your subscribers in a cost-effective way.
And I totally agree. Facebook is the best paid promotion platform for a podcast, our regular listeners may remember Episode 3 "Paid Podcast Advertising – a Look Behind the Scenes".
My point with this episode is not to argue that Facebook is a poor platform to advertise podcasts on. Rather to point out that the Facebook Podcast Promotion Process most bloggers and marketers recommend it is flawed.
There has been a slew of recent posts on how to best advertise podcasts on Facebook. I fundamentally disagree with the premise of these posts. Here is why:
So what’s the problem with using Facebook Ads to promote a podcast?
The issue has to do with where to send traffic once someone clicks on your Facebook ad.
Many marketers recommend promoting Facebook episodes by directly linking to the iTunes or Android or Spotify 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, or to simply go with your podcast host's default episode pages and minimal content
- The writers make the point that iTunes and Stitcher is, after all, where you want people to go to subscribe to your show
- The advice is that direct links to the iTunes episode is the best way for Facebook ads to capture people on mobile devices. And also for targeting Android audiences by sending these ads to Google Play or Stitcher episodes directly
And we see many podcasts following this advice and missing out in the process.
I fundamentally disagree with sending your Facebook Ad traffic directly to your iTunes and Stitcher podcast links for the following five reasons:
#1: It Costs Too Much
Sure, your ads may get you more listeners for your podcast on iTunes and Stitcher. But Facebook podcast marketing ads should also have a better goal in addition to just adding listeners. Because 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.”
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, 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.
FB Ads for Podcasts: ‘Cost per anonymous listener’ <> ‘Cost per qualified lead
#2: iTunes and Google Play Do Not Need More Traffic From Your Facebook Podcast Marketing
You are paying for ads traffic that you are sending to iTunes and Google Play Music.
Instead, your own site could be benefitting from greater traffic, rank, and authority.
#3: Blind Dates
Don't let your site visitors and podcast listeners stay anonymous. That's like going on a date without ever asking the other person's name.
iTunes and Facebook may know who your listeners are. But they won't let you, the publisher, in on that secret. You won’t know how many listeners subscribed to your show on those platforms.
- Click here for a complete analysis of Google AdWords vs Facebook Advertising for podcasts
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 attract listeners to visit your show pages, you are essentially going on blind dates – without ever even asking for a name. So, a very passive way to promote a 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. They could discover links and resources about your guests. And they could be downloading relevant resources from you in exchange for an email address.
So, when recording your podcast, make sure you mention an easy to remember episode show notes link like “mypodcast.com/132”. 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.
#4: 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.
The term "Digital Sharecropping" was first coined by Nicholas Carr
…the distribution of production into the hands of the many – but the concentration of the economic rewards into the hands of the few.
So, what we often see with new clients who come to us for help is this: They post all of their valuable intellectual capital and thought leadership content on platforms like Medium, LinkedIn or Facebook. Their videos can be found 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 all social and ad traffic to promote your podcast should land on your own great conversion optimized podcast home page. We recently published a video walkthrough which showcases a highly converting podcast website design pattern. It is called “The Upside Down Podcast Home Page”.
The effort (or cost) involved in creating a podcast home page and maintaining your podcast show notes are well worth it in the long run. The time spent pales in comparison to the effort of actually creating your content in the first place.
Your content should live on your own site FIRST AND FOREMOST.
Only then should it be shared from there centrally, spreading out to 3rd party platforms for social engagement. Especially if you are using Podcasting as Content Strategy.
We call this process "Outward Syndication". Many podcasters build their own system for sharing new podcast episodes once they are published.
The process we follow for our clients cross promotes their episode show notes posts gradually, across a range of platforms. These syndication channels include Youtube, Medium, Blogger, Facebook Groups, Facebook Pages, Linkedin Personal pages, LinkedIn Business Pages, Google Plus, BeBee, and other social networks.
Why do this gradually?
Before episodes are promoted on any 3rd party platforms, we want to ensure that the show notes page goes live on our own site first. And that our own episode page gets indexed by Google first. We don't want to search for our episodes online only to see our medium article pop up in the search results. Therefore we use a "rel=canonical" tag to indicate where the original article lives. This is true to Google, Bing and other search engine crawlers as well.
There are several ways to do this and to ensure our episode is indexed on our own site first. First, we can use Google's webmaster tools (AKA Google Search Console) to manually submit our episode post for indexing. This is quicker than waiting 2-3 weeks for Google's crawler to come around and visit your website. Typically we do this the day we publish to instantly be included in the search results. We discuss the importance of SEO based podcast cornerstone content strategy elsewhere on my blog, but we have seen episodes rank in the top 30 results within a week using our approach.
Delay by 2-3 weeks
So it is only after that has happened that we publish and syndicate on other platforms. Getting back to the "rel=canonical" setting when publishing on other platforms. Take Medium for example: It is very important to use their own content import tool, which uses the "rel=canonical" tag and honors the original source of the article and channels the Google rank score to that original post. So do not just copy / paste your episode show notes into a new Medium article, use their import tool.
Podcast Promotion and Syndication with StoryChief
We utilize a platform Called StoryChief, which automates the cross platform syndication of podcast and blog content. What I really like about StoryChief is that it
- Automatically applies the "rel=canonical" settings when publishing on other platforms.
- Supports Libsyn Podcast player widgets
I will talk about how we utilize StoryChief to automate much of our podcast episode syndication in an upcoming episode. If you'd like to find out about StoryChief in the meantime, below is a link (disclaimer – this is an affiliate link:)
There is a one-time up-front effort in setting up multiple platforms to syndicate to, but promoting an episode to multiple platforms with built in audiences like Medium makes this worth it.
To conclude the topic of "Digital Sharecropping"
Having your own SEO optimized podcast show notes pages builds a much more valuable asset on your site, audience, and email list.
- Would you not rather build free traffic and rank for your site? Don't overlook the value of SEO for your show notes pages. This is one of the deadly podcast marketing sins I often write about.
- I think most marketers would agree that an email list is still the most valuable asset to build for your digital presence.
#5: Analytics & Measuring Performance
How do you measure your investment in Facebook ads?
For me the answer is this:
Success = how many people SIGN UP for your podcast or blog.
The Facebook marketing term for this is called a "conversion". It is NOT how many people clicked on your ad, nor how many more anonymous 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 ads cannot measure who subscribed to your podcast on iTunes or Stitcher. Facebook won't know 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.
So don't set this as your Facebook Ad campaign goal.
A better goal is to measure “Conversions”
Facebook algorithms are more effective when optimized for conversions. When setting up an ad campaign on Facebook, you can choose "conversions" as the goal. A "conversion" is triggered every time someone goes to your podcast subscriber "thank you page", so you will need one of these on your site.
Facebook learns from who signed up and then increasingly shows your ads to the best possible and highly “converting” audience. You will 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)
If you use Facebook to boost or promote your podcast, don't send traffic directly to your episode pages on iTunes and Stitcher. Instead, send traffic to your own episode show notes pages. Be sure your site features a "subscribe by email widget" that redirects to a thank you page, and triggers a "conversion" on Facebook.