Podcasting is a fast-growing industry which is constantly evolving - which means brands need to adapt quickly to changing circumstances.
In May 2022, YouTube overtook Spotify as the most favoured platform to use for podcasts, according to a survey in the Cumulus Podcast Network Spring 2022 report, with 24% of listeners identifying it as their preferred channel. Spotify is a close second choice at 23%, while Apple Podcasts is at 16%.
Twitter has also expanded to the podcast-verse through a redesigned experience in the Spaces tab that groups audio content into different themes, and suggests podcasts to users who interact with certain brands.
While a focused approach has its advantages, it may no longer be enough to promote your podcast via a singular platform. Instead, many podcasts and production houses are embracing a multichannel growth and promotion strategy.
What is a multichannel podcasting strategy?
A multichannel strategy means advertising your brand and contacting audiences through multiple avenues. This can include email updates, social media and video, as well as in-person conferences and networking events. In addition to helping you reach new audiences, this also gives your existing fans more ways to interact with you.
At podcast production studio Listen, this is a strategy that the team is using for a new forthcoming original series, and it’s something they encourage other podcasters to do. Their approach is based on a holistic view of the podcast’s wider brand, which can include live events, in-person and online communities, social media channels, and merchandise.
Amber Bateman, executive producer at Listen, produced a previous podcast that transitioned from audio to video in its second season; this optimised their social media feed by allowing them to reach new and different audiences. She says they’re always trying to take their content further and to deliver innovative formats to the audience.
“Knowing what success looks like for the podcast helps us frame what multichannel means and where it leads,” she says.
Similarly, Listen’s senior digital producer Alice Tilley says that she noticed a growing level of competition in video platforms thanks to her background working in TV, and says that brands now have to adapt to keep up with the audience’s changing behaviours.
“I think video provides audiences with a tangible experience,” Tilley says. “...I understand that visual context is super important and allows the audience to get that deeper connection.”
As a creator, having a variety of avenues through which to monetise is a major advantage. Podcasts have traditionally relied on download figures as their main success metric, and only point of monetisation, but by allowing your podcast to exist on multiple channels, podcasts can maintain several distinct revenue streams.
It also lets you have several touch points of engagement for your audience, by offering a space for conversations via social media or YouTube comments. “It’s the most used platform,” Tilley says, “so why not speak to them there?”
However, the Listen team also makes it clear that multichannel podcasting is not always necessary and that it depends on the purpose of the show, the audience you’re trying to reach, and what goal you’re trying to achieve.
Using video to appeal to younger generations
As of 2022, 50% of podcast listeners are between the ages of 12 to 34, according to the Infinite Dial report 2022, so it’s important to keep the diversity of your audience in mind when promoting your podcast. Gen Z and Alpha generations, for example, will consume video content for longer.
“I have relatives who would never sit down and watch TV but they would pull out their phone and watch YouTube,” says Bateman. “It’s about behaviour habits and making sure that you’re conforming to those and adapting to make sure you’re working towards them.”
Spotify’s Call Her Daddy podcast is a prime example of how adding video to your podcast can increase popularity. The relationship advice and comedy interview podcast provides an intimate setting with the host Alex Cooper, who is often seen in casual sweats attire, interviewing guests in a recording studio decorated with plush sofa chairs. The intimate format has allowed her to go in depth with some of the biggest stars. This recently included model Hailey Bieber whose episode reached number one in the US.
During Bateman’s time working in TV, she mentioned that she also noticed an increasing demand to produce social video content for different online platforms in order to keep up with algorithmic changes and social trends.
“I really love what [Call Her Daddy has] done on social media and they have really fantastic hero clips,” said Bateman. “[They’re] really engaging with social channels on a consistent basis.”
Another example is Diary of a CEO with Steven Bartlett, a podcast in which the 29-year-old ex-CEO and founder of Social Chain shares insights from guests with different backgrounds and experiences. Similarly to the Call Her Daddy podcast, the entrepreneur feels that the video element of his podcast allows him to capture the emotions in the interviews for his audience to see.
“The studio is actually in my kitchen,” Bartlett revealed to Anchor in an interview. “The reason I decided to do it in my home is because it seems to relax the guests on a different level compared to if I brought them to a studio”.
In terms of social media, younger generations are likely to discover new podcasts through videos on TikTok or Instagram Reels. Tilley notes that although it might not necessarily drive downloads to your podcast, this shouldn’t be the prime focus, as it can create conversions in different ways.
The Saving Grace podcast, for example, has gained over 38 million likes on TikTok by using short, funny video clips from recording sessions to promote the YouTube-focused show. Host GK Berry mentions that in just three months of the podcast being live, it managed to quickly go to number one.
This popularity may be partially due to the fact that Berry was already a successful TikToker with 2.5 million followers on the platform. She says fans are drawn to the podcast due to her authentic, no-filter personality.
“My audience is quite young; mostly adults and teens,” Berry tells us at the British Podcast Awards nominations party. “I connect to them by just talking about the most disgusting and outrageous topics that no one else seems to talk about.”
Empowering the regular creator
With limited resources or funding, it may seem intimidating to expand into a multi-channel marketing strategy - particularly if you’re an independent podcaster - but there are some other things to keep in mind which can help. For Bateman, being consistent with releases for your brand is what’s most important.
“It’s sort of podcasting 101,” she says; “having a consistency of approach, whether you are starting out with an RSS feed and releasing weekly, or whether it’s having a really solid social strategy.”
Her advice is to focus on nailing down who your community is and the audience that you’re addressing, and really trying to “super serve” them. This could be done through things like setting up a Twitch account or a Discord server in addition to your podcast, adding another channel that allows you to converse with your audience.
Other strategies include repurposing your content so that you’re getting the most out of it. Tilley suggests that if you’re just recording audio, you can manipulate that into socially digestible pieces. For example, taking the hero piece of audio content and building that out on TikTok with different backgrounds and subtitles to repurpose it across multiple channels, optimise it for SEO, and maximise the number of listeners.
“I don’t think audiences are worried too much about a super polished production,” Tilley says. “It’s important to keep that in mind so you’re not deterred by thinking that your video strategy needs to be super high in production or have a high cost - it can be a bit more authentic.”
Part of Listen’s upcoming release catalogue is a new wholly-original podcast, which the company says will be fully implementing its multi-channel strategy for the first time. The podcast ticks all the boxes of the multi-channel approach through in person events and social media across multiple platforms.
“We have total free reign over building the brand from the very start, which is super exciting,” says Bateman. “The possibilities when you open up to what multi-channel looks like are endless.”