For many brands, promoting podcasts on Instagram is one of the best ways to get eyes (and ears!) on your latest episode.
But with 800,000 podcasts indexed by Apple, it can be hard to stand out from the crowd — and that’s just the current number, the competition is always growing.
We asked Mitzi Payne, creator of @wavessocial podcast and owner of @helloarcade agency, to share her experience promoting podcasts on social media. Here’s all her best tips and industry tricks to growing your podcast audience:
Promoting Podcasts: Why You Should Share Your Podcast on Instagram
There’s no denying that podcasts are growing in numbers constantly — from true crime, economics, entrepreneurial chats, and parenting series, there’s a podcast for, and created by, everyone.
However, it’s hard to market a podcast as a tangible brand; there’s nothing to look at or experience in the same way you normally would, there’s not much to buy into other than ideas, thoughts, and inspiration.
So to help your podcast stand out, you need to get creative in the way you articulate the brand and find a way to market it well, and there’s no better place to do that than on Instagram!
Podcasts have a similar audience to Instagram, so it makes sense that the two converge and work together seamlessly.
Both are on top of trends, have a mostly even gender split (though more increasingly female), and meet a largely millennial audience with a higher household income than the US average.
Similarly, both Instagram and your podcast can act as a revenue stream while also providing value to listeners and followers (hello influencer marketing!).
Given the crossover, it makes sense to market your podcast on Instagram, and additionally, since so few podcasts do this well, it’s also an easy way to stand out from the crowd.
Promoting Podcasts on Instagram Step #1: Articulate Your Brand and Creative Direction
Before you begin recording, you should have an idea of who’s listening, and what they’re listening for.
If you’re taking the time to read this, chances are you have a podcast up and running with something significant to share on a niche topic, and you know there’s an audience out there for it. And you’re feeling ready to expand it!
But if you’re a new podcast, then identifying your core audience and articulating your brand and the creative direction is a crucial first step. So take the time to think about who it is you’re trying to reach and how Instagram can help make the connection.
We started the Waves Social Podcast as a show for marketers, entrepreneurs, and brand builders who want to make waves online, knowing that we wanted to speak to our peers (marketers) who are primarily using digital environments to grow their business and connect with their customers.
There’s a saying in marketing that goes: “write what you would want to read,” and when it came to pinpointing our audience, we quickly realized that we wanted to create a space for conversations that our own team members or peers would love to listen to.
We are digital marketers who value creativity and growth, and surely we’re not the only ones. Defining our audience made it much easier to map out how we would reach our listeners.
It became immediately clear that Instagram was going to be the main driver for this audience because that’s our platform of choice.
Ready? It’s your turn. Start by asking yourself the following questions when it comes to identifying the audience you want to reach:
What does my audience care about?
Where do they live?
How old are they?
What do they value?
Where will they be listening from?
How do I want to engage with them?
How do I want them to engage with me?
What will they take away from this podcast, and how will that improve their lives?
Once you’ve mapped out who your listener is, your next step is to build a structure or framework for your brand to live in.
You’ll need to decide on a general direction and visual style for all of your brand and marketing assets — this will influence the content you create and share on Instagram, it will impact your website and podcast channels, and it will attract your newly identified listeners.
For example, if your podcast is a crime podcast, pick colors and visual styling that’s mysterious and dark. If you’re speaking to home-decor enthusiasts, you’ll likely want to stick to a light and airy vibe.
Take the What Day Is It? podcast for example. Their fun (purple and pink!) branding is used across all platforms — podcast imagery, Instagram Stories, and their Instagram feed.
Having a strong visual representation on Instagram will help people find your podcast easily and identify with it before they even press play.
Before you create any content, ask yourself:
Is your podcast promoting your personal brand?
Is your podcast focused on niche subject matter?
What’s the general tone of your podcast?
If you’re creating a podcast to promote or leverage your personal brand, then your creative should revolve around more personal imagery that looks and feels like an honest reflection of you and your personality.
A good example is the Side Hustle Pro podcast hosted by Nicaila Matthews Okome. This podcast spotlights bold black women entrepreneurs who have scaled from side hustle to profitable business. From the colors on her website to her Instagram photos, all of the branding assets come together so nicely.
If your podcast is focused on a niche subject matter, you want to match the tone. For example, a podcast about finances works well with a more professional, serious brand tone. If your podcast is a parody on the Bachelor, then you might be looking at a more rich, flirtatious, and perhaps slightly ironic visual style.
At the core of it all, your brand structure should include:
Logo or Wordmark (ideally with multiple variations)
Cover art (imagery focal point, legible title, scroll-stopping composition)
Colors and other visual elements (patterns, textures, treatments)
Imagery and graphic styling (consistent tones, text, and animation assets
Creative? Check. Production and distribution, we’re almost there!
Promoting Podcasts on Instagram Step #2: Create Content To Amplify Your Podcast
Just like any other brand on Instagram, plan to create content that you’ll be sharing on social media.
Budget can influence this next step quite a bit, but regardless, there are a few ways you can approach this incredibly exciting part of the process.
No matter where you’re at as a brand, create enough content to carry you for at least a month at a time.
Work towards building up enough content for a full quarter or podcast season, that way you’ll never run out of things to share, you’ll be able to stay ahead, and you’ll have enough content to promote every episode sufficiently.
Plan Your Photoshoot:
Whether you decide to shoot on location, outdoors, or in your living room, you don’t need a lot of equipment or a full-scale production team to come up with some great creative.
However you decide to proceed with the shoot, you’ll want to map out a shot list which will guide exactly what images you’ll get from the shoot overall. Especially when you’re working with a budget, this will allow you to execute efficiently.
If your podcast is focused on building your personal brand, make sure that you shoot photos of yourself and things or places you love (variety is key).
If your podcast is focused on a niche subject matter, you’ll want to shoot content that relates to that subject, whether this is literal or more abstract is ultimately up to you.
For our podcast, we decided that the Waves brand should feel somewhat parallel to our agency, Arcade Studios. We went with a still-life shoot utilizing props and hands (feet for Season 2), but we used our distinct Waves brand colors to keep it unique.
We also created a shot list based on the episode themes of the season. For example, we shot hands holding makeup and a brush, which we used to announce our episode on beauty marketing.
Create Your Design Assets:
When you’re using Instagram to amplify your podcast, every social post should somehow promote or relate to an episode, guest, or theme from your podcast.
Sharing diverse content helps to keep your followers engaged, so it never hurts to break up your photo or video content with designed assets to keep things exciting and your feed looking fresh, but look to assign a purpose to every piece of content you share.
An easy way to change things up is by using graphic tools like the Wavve app, which easily pulls audio waves from your episode and matches it with the caption of your sound bite graphically.
The other benefit of this is it adds a dynamic element to your feed, especially if you don’t have much video content to work with, and by pairing it with subtitles, people can consume your episode content even with their volume off.
We personally wanted to include fun, on-trend elements into our feed, so we decided to create relevant memes that marketers can relate to. This was a great way to create engagement and connect to our defined target audience of digital marketers without just pushing listens or downloads at every turn.
For our podcast, we chose to feature a new guest for every episode, so we request that all of our guests send us a headshot. Our team creates a branded headshot asset to use in announcing the latest episode, which we also share with each guest so they can also promote the episode on their own personal social media accounts.
Promoting Podcasts on Instagram Step #3: Plan Your Content Calendar Based on Your Podcast Publishing Schedule
Once you’ve built out a solid bank of images and designed assets, everything else starts to fall into place. Your hard work has paid off, now it’s time for the fun stuff. I mean, is there anything more satisfying than mapping out your grid on Later?
Most podcasts operate on a weekly publishing cycle (release a new episode every week) so you can plan out your posts based on the episode you’re releasing. Some of your content should proactively build anticipation for the episode, and then other content can be more reactive, and act as a follow-up or amplification of the episode after it’s live.
Don’t forget Instagram Stories! To make your life easier, plan out an Instagram Story template for the “main events” that you’ll want to promote for your podcast.
For us, we’ve designed a template that we use for sharing the release of new episodes that go live every Wednesday. We call it #WavesWednesday.
Consider saving each episode into an Instagram Stories highlight so that people can view all of your episodes at a glance.
This also helps to legitimize your podcast by showcasing how many episodes you’ve released. And if you’re still new to the game, no worries! This will build up in no time.
Important: If your podcast episode features a guest, be sure to share all of the graphics you’ve designed with them ahead of the episode launch so they can promote it on their own social media feeds.
And of course, be sure to tag them in all posts to make it easy for them to re-share on their own Instagram Stories and feeds.
Promoting Podcasts on Instagram Step #4: Tap Into Your Community
One of the most amazing things about being a social-first podcast brand is that we get to build out episode themes and source guests based on the feedback and recommendations we get from the community.
I think it’s super important to not just set it and forget it. Get into it with your audience!
Ask them questions about what they like and don’t like. Who do they want to hear from next? What kind of follow up questions might they have that you haven’t thought of?
We like to ask for feedback from our community and listeners in the form of Instagram Stories stickers. After we wrapped season 1, we asked our community who they wanted to hear from and we got some pretty incredible suggestions, two of which ended up being guests for our second season!
You can also strategically tease out themes or upcoming episodes using the countdown sticker. This is fun because you can see who else is saving the countdown which is a great way to identify your super listeners.
We consider our guests as a part of our social community, so we choose to mail out a little “thank you” pack to everyone who agrees to be on the show.
This little care package really goes a long way to getting them excited to be on the show and gives them something to share on social media ahead of the episode drop to help build anticipation for their episode.
It also introduces the podcast to their followers, which is a great way to tap into new audiences!
There really are no rules when it comes to structuring your podcast. The most common approach is to drop an episode once a week, but we decided to distribute our show through seasons of ~10 episodes, corresponding with the quarterly business calendar.
We felt this approach not only allowed us to map out episodes based on important marketing cycles in the calendar year, but also provided the opportunity to build momentum and anticipation for each new season launch.
Launching and hosting a podcast is a great way to get more exposure for your business, but it’s also about growing and nurturing the community that tunes in for each episode and delivering something of value.
At the end of the day, it’s important that you stay true to your brand and objective — and have some fun with it too.
Want more from Waves Social? Follow @wavessocial on Instagram and be the first to catch season 3, launching soon.
Don’t forget you can plan, schedule, and post your podcast’s social media posts with Later — for free!