Podcast guests are key in helping promote an interview style podcast

One of the best things about having an interview style podcast is that you get to know and collaborate with some really cool people. And if you’re lucky, your podcast guest will help you to promote “their” episode and your podcast.

If you’re even more fortunate, your guests are well connected and have a large social media following – resulting in more people being aware of your podcast and subscribing along the way.

Don’t Fall Into The Expectation Trap

You might expect that your podcast guest will help you promote “their” podcast episode.

But make sure this is not an unspoken assumption on your part.

After having launched over a dozen shows, I’ve found that getting your podcast guest to share episode links with their own social networks can be like pulling teeth. It’s a bit like asking for reviews, people seem happy to do offer them in principle, but then it rarely happens without gentle reminders. Repeat reminders.

And depending on your own personality type, asking explicitly may not be in your nature. Repeatedly.

Add to this the fact that the more connected and “famous” your guest is, the less likely they are to do this without being prompted.

Getting a podcast guest to want to help co-promote breaks down into 2 parts:

  1. Designing a pleasurable experience of being on your show
  2. Making it super easy to help promote your podcast

So here are some tips to make this easy on yourself, and even easier for your guest.

Part 1: Designing the Podcast Guest Experience

Podcast guest experiences are a matter of design
Podcast guest experiences are a matter of design

You want your guests to be excited to be on your show. For guests that have never been on a podcast before, this may require some gentle education about the mutual benefits of being on your podcast. The goal is to foster a sense of excitement, collaboration, co-ownership and reciprocity.

In fact we have found that once guests truly understand all of the benefits of “guesting” on your podcast, they are much more likely to chip in and promote the episode when it goes live.

Explain How You Will Present Your Guest In A Good Light

We have an on-boarding sequence when we book podcast guests on our shows. During this process we reiterate that the process is designed for us to be able to promote the guest, highlight their background, links to their website, current initiatives and so on.

During this phase, we ask them to fill out an on-boarding form. They are to provide social media links, books they are promoting, short bios, profile pictures etc. This is so that we can create a great looking guest section with pictures and links to their work.

In other words, we want to create great looking episode show notes that our guests would be proud to share and to help cross promote. Essentially, we’re doing this on THEIR behalf.

Making the Sign Up Process Easy

Still, people are busy, and they hate to fill out forms. Especially if they seem complicated. So here are some design aspects to help make this process easy:

  1. Do not use a super long intimidating looking forms with lots of fields to fill out
  2. Instead, break fields into manageable small sections with fewer fields
  3. If you are on WordPress, use a forms tool that supports a “wizard” like interface, which breaks the sign up process into smaller steps or pages
  4. Display a progress bar on the sign up form
  5. Extra credit for forms that can be “saved” in the middle of filling out a form

Here are some WordPress tools that support multi-step forms

Eliminate Technical Difficulties

You want your interview to go smoothly, and making sure there are no last minute technical difficulties is important. Look at it from your guests point of view: They may not be used to Skype. They may not have headphones, earbuds or microphones. They may not know how to connect these or configure Skype in the right way.

We produce some podcasts where our guests are an older demographic or simply “tech averse”. Or we get people who cannot use Skype because they are behind a corporate firewall, and we therefore need to offer alternative recording platforms like “Ringrr“.

In any case, the last thing you want is to discover these things the last minute before starting to record, which usually results in a flustered guest.

2 tips for eliminating technical issues

  1. Send a “technical setup” email as part of your guest onboarding sequence.
  2. Arrange for a brief test call a day or so before the actual interview to iron out any issues. Some podcasters have a brief 10 minute “test” conversation with their guests right before the interview starts, and this is OK as long as you are confident that your guests have the equipment and experience to handle that.

Prep Your Guests On What To Expect

Being comfortable doesn’t just depend on technical issues. Guests appreciate having sense of the flow of the conversation.

A lot of podcasts follow a set interview structure, with predictable segments and questions that the guest will be asked. Take John Lee Dumas’ “Entrepreneur on Fire
podcast. He has an episode format with certain questions that each podcast guest can easily prepare for ahead of time.

Open ended conversation with surprise questions may be more unsettling for your guests. But this may make for a much more interesting listening experience for your audience, and result in more surprising and compelling podcasting.

In the end you may have to balance your guests comfort with your listening audience’s expectations for compelling conversations.

Tips for balancing guest vs listener experience:

  • Approach it from a hybrid perspective. Feature open conversation segments, but also have several prepared questions for your guest to fall back on.
  • Ask your guest to listen to one or more representative podcast episode so they know what to expect.
  • Send your typical episode structure outline to your guest via email as part of the aforementioned “onboarding sequence”. Even if you have mostly unstructured conversations, sending a “guest cheat sheet” ahead of time is a good idea.

Part 2: Getting Your Guests To Co-Promote Their Episode

Getting your podcast guest to share
Make sure your podcast guests know you would like them to share your episode

Make Your Expectations Clear From The Beginning

In our guest on-boarding sequence we already make it clear that we expect podcast guests to share the episode on their social networks, in a nice way. And we tell each guest that when the show goes live, they will receive ready made shareable links and notifications.

Automate The Process

Scripts and templates are designed to make your process easier.

A great tool for this on Mac is an application called Text Expander. This is where you can store pre-written emails. When you are ready to send the email, a popup will prompt you to simply fill in the blanks with the needed information. In this case that would be the name of the guest, name of episode, episode URL, etc.

Which emails are part of our typical on-boarding sequence?

  1. “Thank You Note”, sent right after filling out our podcast guest application. This is a short simple email. We don’t want to overwhelm with too much information at this point. But we do include a Calendly or YouCanBook.me link to schedule a test call and get this on the calendar.
  2. “What To Expect” email, sent an hour after filling out our podcast guest application. This includes our podcast “one sheet” PDF with typical episodes, show structure, about pages and other useful links. It also contains guides for technical setup, wearing earbuds, Skype etc. We ask guests to ask questions at this point.
  3. “Reminder Email”, sent 2 days before recording. By this time you as the host might have formulated some guest specific questions in addition to the normal episode structure. Also this is discussed on the pre-call.

Some Automation Resources:

Make Sharing Easy For Your Podcast Guest

One of the easiest ways to get people to share is to send them an email containing instructions on how to share your show notes post on your website. They will want to check out the show notes pages anyhow, and in many casts that is true.

The problem with that is that you are asking your podcast guest to take the time to visit your website, check out your show notes page and then use social share buttons to share. And in this scenario they have to come up with some clever text to share. This is not exactly distraction free, as they might start reading your show notes, listening to parts of the interview. Next thing you know they have forgotten to share, and OMG, look at the time.

Usually our guests are extremely busy people, what if there is a better way?

Well, there is. By all means, first send your guests to the show notes page to check it all out and to see what a quality job you did.

But then send them ready-made share links in one or more separate follow up emails. A big benefit benefit of this strategy is that you want your guests to share your show notes page. NOT the iTunes link. Not the episode on Stitcher or SoundCloud or Spotify.

Social share traffic needs to go to your website, not iTunes.

There are some really awesome services out there that let you prepare ready-made tweets and Facebook shares. They are easy to use, and you can prepare several social shares for your guest to click on and use. These can simply be sent via email. Your guest does not even have to visit the show notes page to use these:

Sharing Ease Resources:

The idea is to send your podcast guest a separate email with a range of pre-made tweets and social shares.

  • Click To Tweet – is a twitter specific service that generates tweets. Click here for another example of a ready-made tweet to our “The Podcast Growth Show” homepage.

A Simple Sharing Text Example

Use something like the below for Facebook/LinkedIn and/or Google+

“I was just on the [NAME OF PODCAST] with [YOUR NAME] and talked about [WHAT YOU TALKED ABOUT]. If you’re [REASON WHY SOMEONE MIGHT BE INTERESTED], listen here: [PASTE THE LINK FROM STEP #1)

Use something similar for Twitter and include a service like ClickToTweet:

“I was just interviewed by [YOUR TWITTER HANDLE] and talked about [WHAT YOU TALKED ABOUT]. Listen here: [INSERT SHORTENED LINK FROM STEP #1]”

But be creative, and don’t just send one single share. Send a range to choose from. Outline the text for each share and then paste the share link next to the share text in the email

Share The Success And The Once Is Not Enough Rule

You may think that after the initial share of your live episode you should not repeatedly ask your guest to help promote. I get that.

But your podcast guest will love to hear about how popular their episode was. So here are some good ways to stay in touch and to send additional shareable links without being a nuisance:

  • Let them know how well received the episode was, and place some additional shareables at the bottom of that email.
  • Even months after the interview, you can reach out to let your guests know that you are getting great feedback. Again, place some share links into that email.

Conclusion

Involving your podcast guest in the promotion of their episode and your podcast overall is a critical element in building a community around your show. I can summarize the important bits like this:

  • Educate your guests on the benefits of appearing on your podcast
  • Set an expectation that this is a collaboration that can succeed only with their help, beyond just showing up for an interview
  • Make it as easy as possible to be on your show
  • Make it as easy as possible for your guests to share your episodes
  • Be persistent and follow up more than once