Or do we simply need to change our expectations for engagement around the content we create?
Last year when I decided to launch The Fan-Damn-Tastic Marketing Show, I tried to focus on how I could make my podcast different to help it stand out from everyone else that was jumping into podcasting. I came up with three ideas:
1 – I didn’t want to have a co-host, and I didn’t want to make the podcast an interview podcast. So many podcasts interview guests, and IMO few do it well. And the few that do, like Kerry Gorgone’s Marketing Smarts do it so well that you’re probably not going to come close to what Kerry does, so it’s better to fight the battles you have a chance of winning.
2 – I didn’t want to have every episode be 45 minutes to an hour. I just don’t have time for it, and now that more and more people are listening to podcasts during travels back and forth from work (which is typically a trip that takes less than 30 mins), a longer episode doesn’t work as well. Plus, what I’ve noticed from a lot of podcasts, whether they have a co-host or not, is that many podcasters seem to approach their podcast as a pseudo radio show. The opening 5-10 mins of the podcast is off-topic banter and small talk that has zero to do with that show’s topic. Some listeners love it, I hate it. Don’t waste my time, get into the show and cut out the fluff. So I wanted to shoot for 20 mins or less per episode for my podcast.
3 – I wanted to create a way for listeners and fans of the show to have a real stake in the direction that the podcast took. My idea was, since #fandamnshow is focused on how companies can create and cultivate fans, I wanted to let the fans and loyal listeners of the podcast have ownership of the show’s direction. I didn’t really see any other podcasts really making an effort to empower their listeners and give them a way to make the show feel like their own. The way I wanted to do this was to encourage listeners to engage with me and fellow listeners via the #fandamnshow tweets. My thinking was that this would be a way for listeners to share their thoughts on the show and also suggest future topics, etc. And I could pick topics that listeners suggested, give them shoutouts during the podcasts, and they could see that their voice was being incorporated into the flow of #fandamnshow so in many ways it would become their podcast, as much as it was mine.
Fast-forward almost a year, and #3 hasn’t happened at all. I’ve been lucky enough to have some listeners (thank y’all!) use the #fandamnshow hashtag to promote the podcast, but there’s been almost none of the discussion around the podcast itself via the hashtag that I was hoping for.
And yet, the audience for #fandamnshow is growing at a rate that I never would have dreamed was possible when I launched the show. Last month the show had over 1,500 downloads, which was a 170% increase over the previous month. April looks like it could double the number of downloads from March. So the show’s audience is rapidly expanding, but the engagement via discussions I am getting around the show via comments here, emails and tweets with #fandamnshow continue to be very low.
Now granted, a lot of that is simply a byproduct of podcasts not being the best channels for creating engagement via discussions. As I said, a lot of people listen to podcasts while they are on the go, and mobile commenting isn’t a very convenient way to engage. At the same time, I see discussions here have fallen for the last couple of years as well, and I’ve already talked about how no one is talking on Twitter anymore (Although I do like the recent ability Twitter added that lets you add a comment to a RT. That’s a nice touch).
The reality is that most of us have decided that we would rather spend our time consuming content, than engaging in discussions about and around that content. The time I spend crafting a comment about a post/podcast/video is time I could take to read another post or watch another cat video on Facebook.
From a business context, this change in how we define engagement could be a good thing. For too long, businesses have relied on ‘soft’ metrics to try to measure social media success. Comments, Likes, RTs and Favorites were tracked, metrics that have little correlation to real business growth. Since these forms of engagement are harder to find, businesses will have to adapt and measure/track more relevant forms of engagement, like leads generated, white papers downloaded and click throughs.
But for all of us, I think we need to realize that the heady days of 2006-2008, when you could create almost any piece of social content and a discussion would spring up around it, are gone.
Pic via Flickr user Udo Springfield
Kerry O'Shea Gorgone says
Thanks so much, Mack! You’re too sweet. I appreciate all your help and advice. And you’re one if my all-time favorite Marketing Smarts guests (and guest co-host)! XOXO
Mack Collier says
Thank you Kerry, you’re one of my few benchmarks for what an awesome podcast sounds like. And loved being on Marketing Smarts, such fun!
Kelly Hungerford says
Congratulations on your show. I love it and I’m not saying that just because I am a devoted friend and fan. You add a lot of value and practical advice. As a hands-on marketer, I can identify with what you say and appreciate your points of view.
Here’s what I love>
1. It’s great you do a solo show. Very few people can carry that on their own and you do a stellar job. As a marketing practioner, I love how you pack in food for thought and actionable tips that I can put to use asap.
2. Your show doesn’t usually run past 15 minutes and I love the short, snappy, snackable format. 45 minutes is often too long. If the host, guest or topic falls flat at any time, the episode is lost and this seems to happen often around the 25 minute mark.
To your point of engagement, I disagree only because podcasts don’t provide a way for listeners to participate besides commenting via a post, Twitter, FB, etc.
When I listen to a podcast and find myself connecting with a host or topic I want the Batphone, not a comment section.
For example, your last episode ( number 21) — I was practically bursting with my own examples and learnings to share/contribute. The thing that frustrates me is not being able to communicate or participate.
I see an engagement disconnect in general with podcasts because they are a broadcast-only medium. Sure, I can write this post or tweet how much I loved it and share an idea, but it isn’t the same as sharing knowledge and learnings voice-to-voice.
That’s where radio broadcasts rock. Callers can dial in and add their two-cents worth. Maybe a dial-in podcast? Hmm. I like that idea…
Mack Collier says
Thank you Kelly! I agree with you about commenting on podcasts, there needs to be a better solution. Since many are heard on smartphones or while mobile, what about a way to leave a voice comment? Similar to how you can create a voice memo now with your phone, but maybe there’s a plugin that could convert it into an audio comment? Or even translate to a text comment.
With the growth of podcasts it seems curious that there’s not more movement in this area, facilitating comments/engagement on podcasts seems like a no-brainer. If someone can come up with a workable solution they could make a lot of money.
Kelly Hungerford says
I like it! AudioBoo used to do something like that then they moved to AudioBoom. I wonder if that is something they do now. I need to look into that!
Jennifer Webb says
I love your podcast Mack! It’s wonderful. 🙂
Mack Collier says
Thank you Jennifer, I appreciate that! 🙂