I was at Podcamp Pittsburgh last weekend. They had a speaker cancel at the last minute, so I went into a room and 20 minutes later I came out to deliver a presentation on How to Grow Your Podcast Audience.
In the talk I talk about:
Making sure your show doesn’t turn people off
The importance of headlines
Edit is not a four letter word
Step by step guide to growing your audience
Things that don’t work.
Live Q &A (My apologies I didn’t always repeat the question)
So I’m going to attempt to tell this story by just using facts. To provide full disclosure, I was nominated in the Education category and lost. The weird thing is I didn’t lose to Grammar Girl. That is what I expected as – let’s face it – when you’re an answer on the TV show Jeopardy!, you’re probably going to beat my little podcast about podcasting. So here are some facts.
Todd Cochrane (the man behind the podcast awards) had attempted to sell the awards to the New Media Expo. While the New Media expo controlled them last year, due to other circumstances the control of the awards was returned to Todd.
The Podcast Awards show website was out of date. That is why Todd Cochrane launched a Gofund me campaign to redo the site. He is looking for $25,000 to redo the site. When you host a site that has voting on it, it is not your typical website. There is lots of extra security and tools needed to attempt to keep out people who would game the system (cheat). I once had a website (battlingbands.com) where there was almost no prize, and people would cheat like crazy. I went through probably 5-7 scripts before I shut down the site.
Two more facts: I’m a Brian Ibbot fan, as I’ve known him since the very first podcasting event in Ontario California. I’m also a big Todd Cochrane fan as we also go “way back.”
The Podcast Awards:
“The People’s Choice Podcast Awards is designed to allow fans to show their appreciation by nominating their favorite shows. Then through a peer / listener review process of the top 25 nominated shows, a slate of 10 podcast for each category is determined. Daily voting for a 2-week period is designed to show engagement and allow show of all sizes to compete for a Podcast Award. Through listener engagement the true power of podcast audience ultimately determine the annual winners.
The 11th Annual that will recognize the best podcasters in the world by allowing the people (Listeners and Podcasters) to nominate, and then vote for their favorite podcast.”
For the nomination process, ” The nomination page can only be filled in once. IP and Email tracking is in place along with other anti-cheating mechanisms. Each nomination will be verified by email which will require a confirmation by web based url.” According the rules, “Voting will last for 15 days, and listeners can vote once a day.”
The Diamond Club Plan
The Diamond Club (featuring a picture of Brian Ibbot) has a reddit group. They got together and voted on who they would vote for as a group (if you wanted to).
Peoples Choice -No Agenda
Arts – The Beerists
Business -The Bizarre Briefing
Education -Scam School
Entertainment -We Have Concerns
Games & Hobbies -The Angry Chicken
GLBT -Diary of a Trans Woman
Government & Organizations -Politics Politics Politics
Kids & Family -Hypothetical Help
Music – Joe and Meg’s Musical Adventure
News & Politics – No Agenda
Science & Medicine – Weird Things
Society – Culture – The Phileas Club
Sports & Recreation -Mat Men
Technology – Hak5
TV & Film -Cordkillers
If you had any issues you could contact @HatTheSystem which is a twitter account with Brian Ibbot’s face across the top header. The purpose of the twitter account was to remind people to vote.
According to this website (and per Brian on his show The Morning Stream) this is the second year they’ve use this tool. The first year they were 7/7 for the shows they supported.
This year they were 14/17 shows (82%). According to Brian, he had nothing to do with the technology. It was created by a listener. He did acknowledge that his face is all over the branding of the tools. Here is the episode where Scott and Brian talk about the awards ceremony
So What Did They Do?
They made a Bookmarklet. What is a bookmarklet?
“a small software application stored as a bookmark in a web browser, which typically allows a user to interact with the currently loaded web page in some way.” – wikipedia.
In this case it made it easier to vote for their selected shows. It didn’t automatically populate anything. It didn’t submit the vote. All it did was help point out who to vote for, and type in the voter’s email address for them.
Then they trained their community how to use it
Is It Cheating?
If you have a contest that involves getting something off a top shelf, and someone comes in with a step stool, is it cheating?
Did the rules say you’re not allowed to bring in a step stool? No? Then I guess it’s not cheating.
Even if everybody else was going to do it without standing on any kind of stool.
It reminds me a bit of performance enhancing drugs in sports. If it’s not illegal, then it’s not cheating and you better take these drugs if you want to compete (even if they shrink your testicles).
There seemed to be a “It’s not how you play the game, it is if you win or lose” vibe when I listened to the Morning Stream this morning. Oops, I’m getting away from facts and mixing in opinion.
In the end, each of the votes had to be confirmed by a person. If you used the tool and wanted to deviate from the default settings you could. It was all voluntary.
Sure, they made it easier to start your voting process, but they still needed to be confirmed via email to make them count.
It’s About an Engaged Audience
If the goal of the podcast awards was to see who had the most engaged audience, then here again the Diamond Club wins. I know my audience didn’t offer to build a tool to make it easier to vote. I didn’t setup a special twitter account for those who wanted reminders to vote. You can’t argue that they have the most engaged audience.
I am Confused By the Motive
On one hand, the Diamond Club seems to despise the awards. They thought they were stupid. In one chat room I saw:
+ArtgineerKAPT_Kipper, eh, you’d have to prove the podcasts award are relevant in the first place lol when I looked at his Twitter feed I saw this:
That leads me to believe they did this to bring the awards down.
If the awards suck, then why go through so much trouble to win one?
What is the point of winning 82% of the awards to pee all over them?
That doesn’t make much sense to me.
You will see the comments in the video below as they watched the presentation were not kind.
Podcast Awards Hatting the System Version
Quick Reactions Are Often Not the Best
The first response from the Awards upon hearing about the bookmarlet was “Cheated Exposed during awards ceremony. We are going to proceed with an Investigation. An Illegal Off-site voting system apparently was used.” Later this was changed to a message that explained that a bookmarklet had been used, and that this makes a show more educated in a specific field (bookmarklets), but not a better show. Later another update to the podcast awards stated, “If some feel an apology on out negative reaction to this tool so be it we apologize. This tool will invoke significant change though, if the awards survive. ”
Whack the Mole
As someone who has lived through the hell of the podcast awards (I helped Rick Calvert when they were part of the New Media Expo), my hat goes off to Todd Cochrane as this is A TON of work. I’m sure Todd will come up with some new rules, people will complain, some will say its fixed, and the cycle will repeat. The next year, Todd will adjust the rules, someone will find a loop hole, people will complain, some will say its fixed, and well, I guess that is our society.
Would I blame Todd if he quit putting in the effort? No. Would I be sad? Yes. The Awards are like that Annoying Uncle at the picnic. He is kind of annoying (the voting process), but picnics would be so different without him. It is cool when you see “little independent” podacasters occasionally take down a giant corporate team.
Is the Diamond club filled creative geniuses, or did they overstep the bounds of fair play? The goal was to get your audience to vote for you. They did. They made it easier. They announced it on twitter, showed what they were going to do on YouTube (via an unlisted video – so you could share it, but it wasn’t 100% public.). Here again we are walking a fine line of what “Secret” means.
Every wonder why you should start a podcast? Well I’m here to help you answer that question. I have a segment on my School of Podcasting show where my audience explains the opportunities they have had come their way because of their podcast. Here is a quick playlist
If you want to help me get into the Magical Land of Unicorns and Fairy dust known as New and Noteworthy (I would seriously like to bump up the charts to see exactly what the effect is – which I think is nothing but won’t know until I’m up the charts). So please Subscribe, Rate and Review, the show Here
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I at one point listened to the Fizzle show, but quit cause there was too much “yuck yuck” for me. But this video makes me want to give them another chance.
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Fine. But be SMART about it. Here’s 3 reasons why unbridled hustle is hurting us all.
It seems like every time any press happens about podcasting the same shows are mentioned (Marc Maron, This American Life, Nerdist, 995 Invisible, Radiolab). These are all good shows, but there are great shows created in people’s closets, dining rooms, without a staff of 18 behind them, they deserve the spotlight as well. So here are some podcasts I listen to, and why.
According to their website, “The focus of RED Podcast is to help you reach, expand, and develop your audience. If you’re a blogger, podcaster, speaker, marketer, non-fiction author, and other creative entrepreneur who wants more impact, influence, and income, this podcast is for you.’
It’s always well thought out, and the other thing I like about it is I don’t always agree with him. It’s a different point of view, and if I’m going to grow as a person and marketer, I need to be open to fresh ideas. In the end, it makes me think.
This is a hard podcast to describe, and that’s a good thing. The tag line is Modern Tales of Ancient Pursuit. Host Randy Cantrell walks you through your own mindset as you ponder what you are, where your going ,and why. In between thought provoking segments Randy plays music that ties in with the theme of the show. As I just found this podcast, I have gone back and download a ton of old episodes. After dinner, I go down to a lake by my apartment, walk around and listen to Randy and he makes me think. He makes me go, “hmmmmm.” While other podcasts give me insights into other people, this podcast helps me gain insights into me. I’ve only listened to a few, but I really like the episode about Being a Buffalo and knowing what is wrong.
Scott Johnson produces this show. I love this show because it’s quick. Scott comes in, gives a tip for your computer or some cool website stuff and gets out. He uses the podcast to promote his computer repair business without making it a giant commercial. He has all sorts of hacks and shortcuts. I think one of my favorites is when I go to a website that has me go through page after page instead of giving me one long page to scroll down. Scott pointed out that if you click on the print button, this typically puts all the information on one page (even if I don’t want to print it). An example of his show is “The key to hit when your lost in Windows 8 or Windows 10.”
This show will change the way you watch television. I know now I see so many “news” stories that are commercials. Hosts Adam Curry (you know the guy who helped invent podcasting), and John C. Divorak (well known tech writer who has a background in everything) disect the media. The really cool thing is they harness the power of a global audience and get lots of different viewpoints that you just don’t get from a US only view. Case in point, there for a while there were tons of stories about how trains were good and planes were bad. These seem to always run on NBC. Who owns NBC? General Electric. What do they make? Trains. In reality the stuff they talk about on this show is what the news should be talking about on the news, but instead we get Kardashian updates and stories of another athlete flunking a drug test. Meanwhile congress is doing all sorts of nasty stuff. This isn’t conspiracy theory tin foil hat stuff either. It’s amazing to watch them predict the news, and watch it come true.
The show is long, but always entertaining (lots of jingles, and its fun listening to John try to pronounce countries). The content is so valuable that they have people on a weekly basis giving them thousands of dollars in donations. Their shows notes are super detailed, and this is the kind of information you want to share with your friends. Check it out at www.noagendashow.com
This is not your Grandpa’s sermon. Pastor Mike Cameneti explained in one “teaching” (he doesn’t use the word sermon) how he use to put Acid on his eyelids as a teenager. So if you want to learn about God, and more importantly how the bible can be used in your day to day life (without being Joel Osteen’s Happy Jesus Man routine) then check out this podcast. Full disclosure, this is the church I go to, but it’s also the reason I go to it. It’s bible based teaching, that makes me think and I can use in my life to be a better person.