Why Your Focus on Downloads Could be Harming Your Podcast
I had a lightbulb moment recently when I was doing research on interpreting podcast downloads. The moment came when I saw podcasts described as a long-form format, because of this we can't apply the same logic of social media numbers to podcasts.
What makes a good podcast
The very nature of social media is short interactions. Each post has a small window of opportunity to catch the attention of users. In terms of shelf life, your Facebook posts are 5 hours, Instagram 48 hours, Twitter 18 minutes, and LinkedIn 24 hours.
Podcasts require a lot more by-in because listeners have to choose to log on and download your episodes. You can't compare an interaction on social media with how a listener interacts with your podcast.
How to make a successful podcast
Download numbers are not a good measure of success for podcasts. The number of downloads doesn't always equate to listens to an episode, it doesn't even mean individual people downloading the episode. Rather than getting stuck on numbers the measure of success for your podcast should be how your audience is impacted.
Once you shift your focus from downloads to meaningful interactions you will start to understand how to create the content your audience is looking for.
I've talked about podcasts being an intimate medium which means you should be thinking about what needs your audience wants to fulfill. Do they want a connection? Inspiration? Escapism? Or education? How does your podcast fulfill that need?
My podcast The C Word Radio is based on the idea of finding connections through shared experience. The feedback I get is my listeners enjoy the realness, humour, and hearing people talk about the same things they experience.
Letting go of numbers
The measure of success for podcasts is difficult to define in numbers. If you create a very niche podcast and there are only 5 people in the world who share your interest three downloads means you have a very successful podcast.
When you start making meaningful content that resonates with your ideal audience you will build a following. Covid has changed the way we can connect and communicate, people miss in-person interactions. I think the reason there has been a rise in independent podcasts since Covid is because we are trying to find an alternative for those interactions.
Podcasts have the potential for creating a community which is a good place to start when you are setting your goals.
Podcasting should be enjoyable
I go through phases where I obsess about my download numbers, it's hard to shift your outlook from the number of likes and downloads. What I have found is when I do this I don't enjoy making my podcast, it starts to feel more of a chore than a fun creative process.
Making your podcast should be fun! If you are finding it a chore take a moment to look at where your focus is.
Check out my guide to podcasting on Gurvi
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