Why Social Media Marketing is a Waste for 90% of Podcasters

I hear it over and over again – the first “real marketing” that a podcaster does is social media marketing. Then after spending a whole lot of money, they look around and start scrutinizing their stats and then scratch their heads because they aren’t sure whether it made any difference at all in their podcast.

I am asked about this often and I see questions in the podcast Facebook groups about it, so I wanted to take some time today and explain to you why I am so against social media marketing for the majority of podcasters.

So first, let’s define what social media marketing is:

This is where you run paid ads on social media platforms in order to try to get people to listen to your podcast.

Facebook has made it so easy to “boost a post” that almost every podcaster I’ve ever talked to has fallen for it at least once.

I am NOT talking about posting on social media platforms or sharing your episodes with followers. I always think that’s a good idea, but I also think it is not impactful enough for most podcasters to justify hiring a social media manager to manage this.

So the bottom line I am trying to help you avoid today is spending money on ads and social media management that will yield very little ROI, so that you can put your money into things that can actually bring you a legitimate return on your investment.

So, let me explain why this is an activity that most of you shouldn’t participate in, and then I’ll tackle the real question of what you should do instead of social media marketing.

  • In strict marketing terms, the vast majority of ad campaigns that a podcaster would run would be considered an AWARENESS Campaign.

This means that there isn’t really something an audience member can buy from the ad, and the ad is just being run to make you aware of a podcast.

Let me just explain to you quickly why awareness campaigns are not something you should aspire to:

  1. They are incredibly expensive to run, since all your ad spend is going into educating the marketplace that you exist, and not to buy your products or services.
  2. Most of the time awareness campaigns are exclusively done by huge multi-national corporations who want to be remembered favorably by the audience.
  3. You can never really determine the ROI from an awareness campaign, so you are most often lighting your money on fire.
  4. Awareness campaigns are not targeted, so of all the people you have the potential to reach, only a fraction of them will be your target avatar.

Ok, so now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, this is where we start getting real about this conversation.

WHY are you really wanting to run social media ads?

I mean what is the real end goal?

To get more downloads, right?

And what does getting more downloads mean for most podcasters?

Well, of course it means you have more listeners, but what do you as a podcaster get out of having 1000 downloads rather than 200 downloads?

I mean, how much more money will you make when you have 1000 downloads vs. 200 downloads?

For the vast majority of podcasters, and maybe even you, it means absolutely nothing. There is a zero dollar difference in those 2 numbers.


Because the average podcaster does not have an offer that their podcast listeners can buy.

So this means that most podcasters aren’t selling anything.

And yet, when I talk to those podcasters, almost all of them will tell me that one of their goals is to earn some income from their podcast.

So why the disconnect?

  1. Podcasters turn to social media marketing when they don’t know what else to do instead.
  2. Podcasters see other podcasters who also don’t know what they are doing and also aren’t making any money, do it, so they follow suit. I’ll let you think about that, but why would you mimic that person anyway? If you’re looking for someone to emulate, at least pick someone who is earning money from their podcast, right?

Now, I don’t mean to hurt your feelings, but if you don’t currently have an offer – and I’m talking about a paid offer, not just a free lead magnet – then you AREN’T ready for ANY sort of paid advertising.

And that includes spending money on a “marketing” person.

But Christy, why?

Because you have no way in the world to get ANY ROI on either your paid activities or your marketing person! Do you hate money that much?

It is my opinion that if you don’t have an offer that you can sell to your podcast audience, NOTHING ELSE MATTERS!

You can stop all your other peripheral activities until you have an offer.

That means you don’t need a new logo…

That means you don’t need to upgrade your microphone…

That means you don’t need to rebrand your website…

That means you don’t need a new pair of headphones…

Literally, nothing else that you can do for your podcast matters until you have an offer.

Your house is on fire if you don’t have an offer!

All of your efforts are in vain if you don’t have something to sell to your audience.

You have the cart before the horse if you don’t have an offer!

A couple of years ago, I learned a very expensive lesson.

I spent about $30K to bring on a Fractional CMO for my business. In case you aren’t familiar with the concept, it’s a way for businesses like mine, who don’t need a full time Chief Marketing, of Finance or whatever, Officer, to pay for one that just works for you part time, and then that person probably has 5-10 companies that they provide this service for and that equals more than a full time income for them.

We created a lot of activity to try and build a local podcast network here in the Florida Keys. 

We were first to the marketplace.

He came up with a catchy brand.

He built a cool looking website.

He made us fancy business cards.

He made t-shirts.

We had a movie premier for The Messengers: A Podcast Documentary that I was featured in and invited the community.

We started building an app.

We started recruiting and training advertising and sales reps.

We started holding monthly meetings in the community.

We did all of these “activities” without ever once having a product to sell to anyone.

In fact, even for all the activities we did, the timing was off on each and every one of them because we were trying to bring together an audience and we had NOTHING to gather them around!

The longer this relationship lasted, the more I started scratching my head and wondering what in the world we were doing. 

After some consultations with my attorney, I ended up firing this CMO and cutting all ties with him. 

Of course, then I began to scrutinize all the red flags over the course of our relationship and I realized…

I was trusting him to build our website and he didn’t have a website of his own.

I was trusting him to figure out our marketing campaigns and he didn’t have a track record of marketing campaigns he had run that I could look at.

Eventually, I realized that this person was really a “branding” person and not really a marketer. What I wouldn’t give to have known that at the time!

Now, I’m not saying that branding is bad, but what I am saying is “there is a time and a place for everything.” And we didn’t need marketing, branding, advertising, or community involvement until we actually had a product/offer to bring to those channels!

The same thing is true for you.

Again, this is my opinion, so take it for what it is worth, but your offer should be the first thing that you create.

Then once you have an offer, then you can reverse engineer your lead magnet.

Once you have an offer, you can even reverse engineer your podcast!

Because most podcasters don’t have an offer, they aren’t ready for any type of advertising yet.

Then once you do have an offer, all your ads, all your podcasts and everything else you do should lead back to your offer!

Want to learn more? Join our private Facebook group here!

You can also find Christy and her team at www.teampodcast.com!

Need help getting your podcast optimized and ready for monetization? Learn more about the Podcast Tune Up here.

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