Podcasters: Don’t Rely On Social Networking Sites For Promotion

Apr 24th, 2008 | By | Category: How to Podcast, Podcast Distribution, Podcasting Research

Edison Research’s Tom Webster, who has been researching and reporting on podcasting for years now, has some interesting thoughts on promoting your podcast through social networking sites like MySpace and Twitter:

Change occurs at the margin, and it would be unwise to ignore the increasing popularity and utility of the various social networking sites.

However, as a researcher of that big ole’ middle of the bell curve, I am compelled to add here that this means that the vast majority of podcast users–and of Americans, period–do not maintain social networking profiles. This means that if you confine your marketing and promotional efforts to getting the word out on social networking sites, you are depriving your podcast of a potentially much greater audience.

If you produce a podcast on restoring and customizing automobiles, for instance, the number of auto aficionados on Twitter is a rounding error compared to the vast size of this potential affinity group.

If you are creating well-written, well-produced quality content on a topic or subject, you have as much right to the big fat middle of the tail as you do the long part, so think big–and market your content accordingly.

What do you think? Are social networking sites over-rated tools for promoting your podcast?

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8 Responses to “Podcasters: Don’t Rely On Social Networking Sites For Promotion”

  1. Rob Blatt says:

    Social networks and tools aren’t an easy way to promote a show. It’s a great way to further engage the audience you have.

    Promotion? Not really. Engagement? Hell yes.

  2. Eric says:

    “Think big and market according?”

    Really? What exactly does that mean? I can’t compete with the money spent by Nickelodean (or their exposure by promoting their podcasts in their shows), and I can’t hire a marketing department… so what, specifically, am I to do that I’m not dong already?

    Of course, it is dumb to only stick to MySpace and the like, but seriously! For someone as immersed in podcasting as he says he is, simply saying “think big” is a cop out to a more meaningful discussion, or more meaningful ideas.

    Here’s my advice: Even if it IS the only thing you’re doing, then stick with the social networking/marketing. There is an audience to be gained. Not your whole audience, but a valuable one!


  3. taniaelis says:

    It’s true that, in the big scheme of things, hardly anybody uses tools like Twitter.

    What Webster isn’t taking into account, though, is that the people that do use Twitter are the most active podcasters, vloggers and bloggers. That’s an important audience to engage.

  4. Tom Webster says:

    Thanks for engaging, everyone. Social Networks, blogs and forums are of course very powerful, which is why I always make it a point to join the conversation, as I do here. I certainly don’t have the answers, so I suppose I should stick to the questions, eh?. In order:

    Rob–absolutely. Social networks are a fantastic tool for that, of course. If that is where your audience is, you’d be a fool not to be there as well.

    Eric–I never said I was immersed in podcasting! I’m a research guy. And I also never said you had to spend big. In the example I gave of a podcast for folks who restore automobiles, for instance (my father is one) you’d have a better chance attracting an audience by putting flyers on windows at the big antique auto show in Carlyle, PA, than all the social networking in the world. I’m not making any kind of grand, brilliant point here–just that there are huge audiences out there with “mid-tail” content tastes that social networking can miss. So maybe a better way to phrase it isn’t “think big,” but “think outside the Twitter box.” There are potentially huge audiences for podcasting that will never read a blog (most Americans don’t) or have a Facebook account. But you know this. Again, I’m not playing “trendspotter” here–I just don’t see enough of this kind of podcast content out there, and believe the market can support much, much more. Always happy to engage in the realm of ideas, and if we ever meet you’ll find I don’t cop out! But it is a fair point to call me on just saying “think big,” like I was some kind of motivational speaker or something.

    taniaelis: There is a fair amount of research on the ‘network effect’ of these active/A-listers, etc. It really depends on your content. They aren’t important to engage if what you are attempting to engage them with isn’t relevant. Obviously, the reverse is true.

    I hope that I haven’t fallen prey to “either/or” thinking here, and that you all haven’t either. All I am suggesting is that if you imagined a world without Twitter/Friendfeed/Qik etc., you might be led to a very different proposition as far as podcasting goes. That “imaginary world” is very real for most Americans, and I have to believe that time-shifted, relevant and passionate content is a pretty universal demand. I would be a lousy researcher if I stopped at any particular line of inquiry and didn’t challenge or question it–and that includes the “conventional wisdom” of what is a very young space.

  5. Dave says:

    I stopped reading at “I never said I was a podcasting guy, I’m a research guy”. Research guys should not be talking about podcasting. It’s still such a new medium that it’s not old enough to have “research” being done on it……. And, a final point, I’m a podcaster with a huge audience. I’m in the top 100 of iTunes and I can tell you that it is ABSOLUTELY worth it to do all the stuff he tells you not to. I have found many new users/listeners through sites like Digg, myspace, youtube, etc… This guy doesn’t know anything. Take it from a real podcaster and not some “researcher”….

  6. James Lewin says:

    Dave – I think Tom’s point is that most people aren’t using social networking like you or I may be, so you shouldn’t put all your eggs in one backet.

    You’re right that ocial networking clearly has its place – but it’s not going to connect you with a vast mainstream audience that isn’t using Twitter, Friendfeed, etc.

  7. Dave says:

    I respectfully disagree with that James. Remember how myspace started and what it was originally used for…….

    • Claude says:

      MySpace is huge – but it’s used mostly by kids. If you’re not podcasting for kids, MySpace could be useless.

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