Research, Value Proposition, Transcripts and Social Media Help to Grow Successful Podcasts

“Do we identify the expert [first] or identify a topic?” Meghna Rao, senior editor of Rheumatology Advisor, one of the leading publications in the Haymarket Medical Network, and host of Neal Award finalist Rheum Advisor, asked in respect to creating a podcast episode. “Obviously there’s no one right way to go about that. Doing them in tandem could be beneficial. Aligning your content with your audience’s needs always has to be front and center. I keep reminding myself sometimes of this.”

A question was asked after our last Editorial Council meeting about podcast promotion—how to reach and grow an audience.

One way came across my laptop this morning on LinkedIn, coincidentally from Rao, who spoke at our Editorial Training Session with Soyini Coke, health care transformation and culture expert and host of CEO Exclusive Radio. (Access the recording here.)

Rao “liked” the post from Rheumatology Advisor of the above photo for their recent podcast. “To understand the gaps, challenges, and future opportunities in rheumatology research, Senior Editor, @Meghnavrao, speaks with the co-authors of a recent paper published in Arthritis & Rheumatology: Laura Lewandowski, MD, Evelyn Hsieh, MD & Chris Scott, MBChB. Tune in!”

Rheumatology Advisor has 527 followers on LinkedIn and Rao has more than 500 connections, so that’s a pretty good push in getting the word out.

“Having a team of folks specifically dedicated to social media, or [at the least] to have somebody dedicated to social media has been critical” to my success,” said Coke. “I find that with all of these functions, that the person who does social media isn’t necessarily the person who should be production… or guest development.”

For Rao (pictured), it’s more all hands on deck. “Twitter and LinkedIn have been really great for engaging with the audience,” she said. “Just small things on Twitter like once you conduct an episode with a certain guest, writing out posts, tagging individuals and the respective organizations go a long way. I’ve actively taken the initiative to be more present and engage more often on social media… That’s just because we’re a small team.”

Here are more takeaways from the session with Rao and Coke, many of which contribute to growing your podcast audience:

Have a clear plan. “Having somebody that’s dedicated specifically to sponsorship or a donor/patron strategy is absolutely necessary to being successful,” Coke (pictured) said. “You’re launching the podcast because you want to extend your reach, or to build deeper relationships, or get a greater share of mind or greater share of wallet from listeners. Then, having a clear plan for how you’re going to sell those services, how you’re going to sell more advertising, etc., is absolutely critical.”

Do your research. “I can’t emphasize enough how important doing your homework is,” Rao said, “especially if you have multiple people or guests appear and want a well-informed conversation. It provides clarity in thought and speech, and improves outcome. One of the strengths of Rheumatology Advisor is that we spend a lot of time and pay a lot of attention to doing our research, so as to appear well-informed, and have a more well-rounded conversation.”

Have a value proposition. “Niche market strategy is absolutely critical,” said Coke. “…But what is also equally important, and maybe a little bit more subtle is having a very clear value proposition. I don’t have to tell anybody who is watching this webinar how distracted and how much information we all have coming at us every day. And so if I’m going to get a CEO [on my podcast], you’re going to get whoever you’re targeting to give you a half an hour, fifteen minutes of their time. [There has to be a] value proposition for why they’re going to listen. [If] they’re going to share with one of their colleagues, it needs to be absolutely clear to them.”

Work out the functions of your show. For Coke, that’s guest, development and content. “Those tend to go really well together because when I’m working with a guest, I can also figure out what content we’re going to create, what the theme of the show is, and what the lead story is. Do you understand what is going to be the key thing for each show?

Keep an open mind on topics. “Do I choose a trending topic or do I choose a unique topic that people want to know more about?” Rao asked. “A simple answer to this would be to mix it up.”

If possible, include a transcript. “What makes the audience engage?” Rao asked. “What factors drive people to an episode on your podcast? Is it a title with good SEO value? Is it the expert? Is it the topic itself? Is it maybe the duration being aligned with your listeners’ time? Having a transcript was something that really elevated our podcasts. If people want to refer back to something that was not clearly mentioned, or the audio quality wasn’t good at that point, they can go back.”

Evolve your style. “It’s great to have a signature style, but this is the one thing that can evolve over time,” Rao said. “…If you listen to my podcast episodes from the beginning until now, you will see how different my style is. It’s obviously become more casual and more conversational. I recommend that you listen to a couple of popular podcasts to see how you can adapt.”


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