A few months ago, I decided to go through the list of podcasts I subscribed to and determine exactly how I had discovered them in the first place.
There were 18 podcasts in my feed from Seth Godin’s, Akimbo to Krista Tippett’s, On Being, 99 Percent Invisible to LeVar Burton Reads, and more.
Show by show, I retraced my steps back to find out how it was that they had first come across my radar. The results were illuminating.
Of the 18 podcasts in my feed, I’d discovered:
- 0 via social media.
- 2 by doing a keyword search in a podcast app
- 5 from hearing the hosts guesting on other shows
The rest, however, were recommendations from people I knew and trusted.
Sometimes it was a recommendation or cross-promotion from a podcaster whose show I already listened to. Sometimes it was an industry niche-topic website that had curated a list of the best podcasts in that niche.
Most often, however, it was a direct referral from a friend, colleague or acquaintance.
Despite all the time, energy and money the podcast industry is putting solving the so-called “podcast discoverability problem”, at the end of the day, almost every podcast is still driven by word of mouth growth.
So what does this mean for us as creators?
In short, it allows us to realign our priorities when it comes to growing our podcasts.
A lot of hosts feel limited because they don’t have the budget to advertise their show. But take a look through your own podcast feed. How many of the podcasts did you discover as a result of paid advertising? For me, the answer is zero.
If podcasts grow primarily by word of mouth, this means that the biggest lever at our disposal when it comes to growth is creating a show worth talking about.
The best way to do that?
It’s not about having the most highly produced podcast in the world. It’s not about spending dozens of hours meticulously crafting each episode.
Instead, it’s by getting to know your ideal audience members and then creating their absolute favourite show.
Create a podcast worthy of being just 10 people’s absolute favourite, and watch them grow your show for you.