In this workshop we’ll talk about defining success, how to measure it, and how to increase your reach and impact it with a little knowledge and planning.
- Podcast Directories
- Downloads and Subscribers
- Discoverability and Archiving for Scholarly Podcasts at Columbia
One of the most important steps to ensure your podcast has good reach is to make sure it is distributed through the major podcast listening apps and directories. It is generally agreed upon that the top podcast listening platforms include:
- Apple iTunes/Apple Podcasts
- Google Podcasts
One way to increase your listenership with little effort is to list your podcast in other directories.
If you have the time and inclination, these are other directories that have a large userbase:
- Google Play Music (this is different than the newer Google Podcasts platform)
- Listen Out Loud (a directory for educational podcasts)
- Women in Podcasting
For more information on getting your podcasts listed on podcatchers, see our information on podcast publishing and RSS feeds.
Podcasts are placed on featured charts (like the Apple Podcasts Top Episodes & Show list) by directory teams. These lists are curated based on subscribers, play, and downloads by the directory’s algorithm or the humans who work for that company. Encouraging listeners to subscribe rather than to leave a rating and review is a more helpful way to be showcased. Similarly, users interested in the subject of your podcast will find it more easily if it is properly categorized. Be sure to assign keywords, podcast artwork, and pithy episode descriptions to help identify your podcast.
Columbia University Libraries supports partners who experiment with podcasting to share research and scholarship. We believe you should treat your podcast just as you would your textual research, making sure that it is discoverable and citable by other scholars and available long term.
We store Columbia podcast audio files and transcripts in the institutional repository, Academic Commons. Academic Commons supports streaming media (both audio and video) and can also store descriptive audio and transcript files in the same record, for accessibility. Podcasts that are submitted to Academic Commons – and anyone with a UNI can deposit their work – will be permanently archived, given a DOI, and will be searchable through the university’s library catalog and through google scholar.
A DOI, or digital object identifier, is a unique code that helps people find their way to your scholarship online. DOIs are stored in online registries and link these codes to the location of a webpage, preferable through a stable URL. Given the pace at which information can move around and be lost on the internet, through websites being migrated or taken offline, broken links, etc., a DOI connected to a stable URL will ensure that researchers can find your content, especially when the DOI is included in a citation of your work. DOIs can also be used to track the sharing of your content online, both in citations and across the web and social media by tools like Altmetric.
If you hope that your podcast will be used for research and cited by other scholars, it should be findable where people look for scholarly sources: in their library catalogs and the databases.
General best practices for raising your visibility online, like maximizing SEO on your website
Let’s talk about getting the word out about your podcast. Stability and discoverability online are essential, especially to have your podcast found by scholars over time, but there is a lot your can do here and now to gain an audience and raise awareness about your podcasting project.
First, your website should serve as a calling card and a central location for information about your podcast. A WordPress site that publishes your audio, transcripts, and episode data can also be a way to connect your listeners to social media links, email or newsletter sign-ups, and contact information. Search engines (like Google, Yahoo, etc) cannot listen to or search through an audio file. A dedicated podcast website will make it possible for search engines to direct an audience to your podcast. Well-formatted transcripts and episode notes will have a great impact SEO. Make sure that your website includes these elements:
- Short and relevant episode titles
- Properly formatted text with paragraphs, headings, and bullet pointed lists
- Audio web player
- Image/s with alt text
- Links to Podcast apps where people can subscribe to your podcast feed on their own device
Social media can actively connect you with your podcast listeners. Create accounts for your podcast with short, memorable handles and think about choosing the 1-2 platforms where you feel comfortable spending time connecting with your audience. Some podcasters use Facebook groups as a way to build community, while others prefer Twitter or Instagram. Consider where your listeners can best be reached: are their other active communities having conversations on Twitter that you can take advantage of? Does your podcast lend itself to creating additional, visual content that would be appealing to Instagram users? Social media accounts are most effective when they are used consistently and you can take the time to respond to followers (that social part of social media).
A newsletter is a lot of work, but can be a way for you to build a community around the topic you are covering by highlighting where you can be followed on social media sites, pointing your listeners to your website for transcripts and supporting information. You can even include info about your development process, previews of upcoming episodes, and other peeks behind the scenes.
You’ll be in the right mindset if you approach all these platforms as places where you can engage with your audience. Rather than just places to blast out news of your work. Set goals to post regularly, and keep them. Deciding where to invest your time can be difficult, creating a Marketing Plan may help you to think about your success goals and concrete steps you can do to achieve them.
It is always difficult to define what makes any project a “success” or to holistically and meaningfully quantify the impact of scholarship. With that in mind, what are some useful metrics to capture, what tools can we use to analyze them, and what can they tell us about our podcasts.
Podcasting is particularly difficult to analyze because it is distributed in a decentralized way. People will find and download your podcast through a variety of different devices and platforms. Although you will upload your podcast audio and information to a central website or hosting service, once this file is downloaded by a listener to their device, your have very little ability to track what they do with it. This is why download statistics are particularly prized by podcasters, and your podcast distributor or directory will usually provide basic analytics. Analytics are freely available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Spotify and show how many times your podcast has been subscribed to, downloaded, and played. Apple iTunes shares additional information about where your audience is located geographically, which can be helpful in understanding more about who is interested in your content and where you might spend some energy marketing and building community connections.
Similarly, you can use google analytics to gain insights on how people are finding and using your podcast website. Installing a google analytics plugin to your WordPress site or registering your web address on a google analytics account (it’s free!) can give you a great deal of information about how people find your website, whether by clicking a link or through organic search, where your audience is located around the country and the globe, and what pages people are looking at the most. This can help you to think about where to target your social media efforts, how you can strengthen your SEO, or even what kind of content you should be developing.