To Everything There Is a Season: How to Make the Most of Your Podcast Through Strategic Timing

Leveraging Seasonal Trends for Your Podcast

By: Jen Moss & Liz Hames

 

When I worked as a radio journalist, I spent a lot of time in story meetings. For the uninitiated, these are tense, focused, editorial meetings where journalists pitch their latest ideas to a managing editor, and have their storytelling aspirations given either an empowering “yay,” or an ego-crushing “nay.” This is how you learn that every story has its time.  What matters this week may matter less a month, or a year from now. In the attention game, it’s important that the story be fresh, or novel in nature. If people have heard it before, they likely don’t want to hear it again. For something to be newsworthy it needs to be the right story, offered to the right audience, at the right time.

Similarly, if you’re a brand or organization looking at doing a podcast, WHEN you podcast is as important as WHAT you podcast. You may have the greatest show on earth, but if you’re going toe-to-toe for audience attention with election night, the Oscars, or the season finale of Naked and Afraid, you may lose. Furthermore, if you wait too long to get your podcast out there – someone else may fill the gap for your audience, making it harder for your show to succeed when it finally does launch. 

On the other hand, if you can figure out how to ride the wave of interest in an outside event or topic, or dovetail your podcast release with a seasonal trend, or larger marketing campaign, you stand to benefit. 

Here are six compelling reasons why you should pay attention to the “WHEN” of your podcast, right from the start of your podcasting journey. 

  1. Maximizing Audience Engagement: Understanding your target audience’s habits and routines can help you schedule the release during times of day when they are most likely to listen. For instance, if your audience consists of commuters, releasing episodes during rush hours or early mornings may result in higher listenership. Similarly, if your podcast caters to professionals, releasing it during weekdays might be more effective than weekend.
  2. Seasonal Relevance: Many industries and topics experience seasonal fluctuations and cyclical trends that influence audience interest and engagement. Tailoring your podcast release schedule to align with these patterns can enhance its relevance and appeal. For instance, if your podcast focuses on a topic like humanitarian aid or charitable donation, timing your show’s launch to coincide with “the season of giving” heightens your impact and enhances your audience growth. By the same token, if you have a travel podcast, you want to be sure to launch it in time for cruise-booking season.
  3. Optimizing Marketing Efforts: Aligning your podcast with wider marketing efforts such as promotions, social media campaigns, and other collaborations with the release of your podcast episodes increases its reach and impact. For example, Staffbase ensured its podcast Infernal Communication, was in market leading up to its VOICES conference. VOICES is the biggest #1 event for internal communications professionals: the show’s target audience. They cross promoted the event on the podcast, offering listeners who used a coupon code a discount. At the event itself, they promoted the podcast in the event app.  
  4. Establishing Routine: By taking care to always release your episodes in a frequent and predictable cadence, you keep up the momentum of audience building and encourage your audience to make your show a regular habit. The goal is for your listeners to be expecting and looking forward to the release of your show.
  5. Capitalizing on Trends and Events: Aligning your podcast content with ongoing discussions or trending topics in the news, or in your industry, can attract listeners who are actively seeking information or discussions related to those subjects. By staying updated and strategically timing your releases, you can ride the wave of public interest, and position your podcast as a valuable resource for timely insights and discussions, increasing its overall appeal and relevance.
  6. Competition Avoidance: Timing your podcast release strategically can help you avoid direct competition with other popular podcasts in your niche. Conducting research on the release schedules of competing podcasts can help you identify gaps or less crowded time slots where your podcast can better stand out. At the same time, if you’re developing a new idea for a show that perfectly captures the mood of the zeitgeist, chances are someone else is working on something similar, and waiting too long gives your competitors the chance to get there before you do.

Building an audience takes creative thinking, legwork, and careful strategy around timing.  Brands and organizations who create podcasts that get this right maximize their audience’s engagement and capitalize on seasonal and social trends, carving out space away from their competition.

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