As a podcaster, participating on social media to promote your show is a no-brainer. Heck, we built an entire video editing app devoted to it. But knowing which channels will perform best for your show and how much time and effort to devote to social can be a daunting puzzle.
According to Hootsuite, internet users age 16-64 spend an average of 2 hours and 29 minutes a day using social media. As a content creator in 2021, you’re almost expected to have a Facebook presence for brand awareness’s sake. But your mix is up to you and a little research.
When researching social media strategy, without fail, the first step is always: find out where your audience is. But how in the world do you do that? In this post, we’ll look at a few reasons why learning where your audience is hanging out online is so important and how to find your future fans.
Define your audience
Before you can even begin to research which social channels your audience is most active on, you must first establish a persona(s) of who your listener is. Depending on your podcast topic, this could be a very specific audience or very broad.
For example, the number of listeners interested in LeVar Burton Reads narrated by the beloved Reading Rainbow host would be drastically larger and different from the niche audience for Chameleon Academy Podcast for chameleon and reptile owners.
Both wide-interest and niche podcast topics present their own social media challenges. While a larger target audience may initially seem easier to find and appeal to, a niche audience allows for much more specific targeting and a potentially smaller but devoted and engaged audience.
Defining your audience will be an ongoing process that you will continue to adjust through experimentation and testing. The social research options below will also likely help you refine and zero in on your target audience.
Remember, don’t put too much pressure on yourself to immediately define your target audience, especially if you’re in the early stages of your show’s development. Start with broader audience demographics and narrow your specs over time as you learn more.
A little social media research can go a long way
If you’re like me, and probably most podcasters and small marketing teams, you don’t have someone (or multiple someones) devoted full-time to your social media strategy. Because of this, your strategy needs to be smart, efficient, and effective. You don’t have time to waste energy on social channels where your audience isn’t active.
To make the most of your social activity, you’ll also likely need to limit the number of channels you participate in. A profile on every channel does not an effective social media marketer make. Start with two (three max) channels. Once you’ve found your groove, you can always add another channel.
Alright, let’s dive in!
Broad Social Channel Demographics
You gotta start somewhere, and the broad demographics for each channel may help narrow down a few of your options. If you have a podcast about tech trends, you can likely cross things like Snapchat, Pinterest, and TikTok off your list. And if you have a podcast about the latest makeup trends, image and video-heavy channels like Instagram and TikTok could be your best bet.
After some research, here’s a look at two versions of the 2021 demographics data I found helpful. These social media demographics from Khoros are straightforward and easy to read. Here’s another set of demographics from Sprout Social that gives beneficial takeaways and interpretations of the data.
This compilation of 2021 global research on social media complied by Smart Insights is a great overview to start your research. I found this graph particularly interesting as the trust in online discovery and purchase is most strong among those who grew up in the Digital Age. However, we’re starting to see a decline in trust among Gen Z.
Stats like these will get you in the right mindset to start your research, and they provide such an interesting social snapshot with some unexpected trends.
Give the people what they want! If you have an existing audience, it’s important to find out which channels work best for them. These insights will potentially point you in the direction of scrapping a channel that isn’t performing well for you, allowing you to shift focus to one that is performing.
Remember to look beyond the vanity number of followers. A follower is great, don’t get me wrong. But an engaged follower is exponentially better.
If you have access to Google Analytics (GA) for your website or analytics through your podcast hosting service, you can pretty quickly take a look at which social channels are referring users to your content. These numbers will potentially allow you to prioritize your workflow toward a particular channel or two.
If GA isn’t your thing, or while you work on getting your dashboard up and running, the stats each social channel provides are a great tool for seeing what’s working for your current fans.
Time for a little healthy internet stalking. I don’t love the word competition, so we’re going to go with cohorts. While you may not have any apples-to-apples comparisons, there are definitely podcasts in the same genre as yours to compare to.
Make a list of the cohorts within your genre. See what channels they’re actively participating in and note their rough follower count and posting frequency. See if you can learn anything from or establish a baseline for yourself (especially if your podcast is brand new).
I am by no means suggesting you replicate their social presence, but rather find the channels and posting patterns that work for someone else in your cohort to help you establish where to put your focus. Keep in mind that longer-established shows will likely have more resources devoted to social, so it’s important to set realistic goals for yourself and your show.
This is also a great time to make a note of potential guest options and opportunities. As the saying goes, “a rising tide floats all ships.” Introduce you and your show to the cohorts in your space. Compliment them! Start engaging with them to begin to establish a mutually beneficial relationship that could lead to great cross-over for you both.
Identify the influencers in your space, which should be pretty easy, you likely already follow them. What channels are they most active on? Trust the leaders (and cohorts) in your genre. They’re making decisions and moves that resonate with your potential listeners.
Don’t forget the micro-influencer
All trends point to the micro-influencer becoming even more valuable in the next couple of years. Micro-influencers (less than 100K followers) are having a huge impact. In fact, the smaller, the better. In a 2019 study conducted by Later and Fohr, influencers with <25K followers had higher engagement rates regardless of their genre, target audience, or topics.
Connect with these people. Invite them on your show. Share their content with your followers and tag them. Again, we’re working to create a rising tide—especially in more niche categories where there’s a finite number of fans.
Look for a Niche
In the same vein as micro-influencers, even if your podcast topic isn’t particularly niche, it could appeal to niche groups. And what we know about niche groups is they are an extremely engaged audience.
I worked in the craft beer industry in a former life, which has some of the most devoted fans out there. When Untappd, a craft beer-specific social media app, was created, it took that world by storm. Fans became fanatical about sharing what they were tasting and collecting themed badges.
This is just one example of smaller niche social channels that could potentially be a great fit for your show, depending on the topic. Just as there’s a podcast for almost every topic imaginable, there are groups out there devoted to these topics. The websites and apps associated with these topics could be a great, low-lift addition to your social mix.
Conducting social media research does take some time, and there’s no steadfast guarantee your choices are going to be crystal clear, but you will set yourself up to make some informed decisions. Narrowing in your focus in the world of social media is absolutely necessary for small teams (and teams of one). Finally, remember as your show evolves, likely so will your audience. It’s important to regularly research and refine your social approach.