Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
Instagram has around 1 billion monthly active users. But despite the popularity, many podcasters are reluctant to promote their show here.
This comes down to a number of reasons, such as:
- Instagram is a visual platform, whereas podcasts are audio based
- You can’t put clickable links on individual posts, meaning you can’t direct people to click through to your podcast
- The algorithm can be intimidating and hard to work around
Instagram isn’t the best choice for every podcast – you need to make sure that the platform aligns with your show’s target audience. If, for example, you’ve got a business podcast aimed at 45-60-year-old men, you’ll probably have more luck somewhere like LinkedIn.
But if Instagram seems a fitting choice for you and your podcast, you are in luck. I’m about to offer you 8 tips that should help you to grow your podcast on this platform.
1. Focus on brand awareness
Trying to form a sales funnel (or should we say, listening funnel?) is very doable on Instagram. Lots and lots of brands manage it. But it can be difficult.
Rather than chasing every account you stumble across, and trying to squeeze a podcast download out of them, I recommend using Instagram to focus more on brand awareness.
Concentrate on finding and connecting with your target audience, and building up a presence within your podcast’s niche (whether that be fitness, comedy, poetry… whatever your podcast is about).
- Having clear, consistent branding. You want people to remember you. Make sure you’re using the same logo, colours, tone of voice etc. across all of your podcast-related content, including social media.
- Focussing on community management
If you’re scratching your head, thinking, “community what?” then don’t worry. We’ve got a whole blog post here which digs deep into community management for podcasts.
2. Strategic hashtagging
Instagram lets you put a maximum of 30 hashtags on each of your posts. But remember: just because you can that doesn’t mean you should.
Rather than focusing on volume, think smarter. Carefully select a handful of relevant hashtags, which relate to your podcast’s niche, rather than spouting out 30 random hashtags which have little to do with you – and are unlikely to bring in any new listeners.
If you’re not sure what hashtags to use, have a look at what your competitors, or other members of your niche, are using for guidance.
According to Hootsuite, using 11 hashtags is a good starting point, although more commonly people actually only use 1-3.
TOP TIP: Variety is key. Use popular hashtags, as this will expose your post to a much bigger audience. However, you don’t want to get lost in a busy crowd, so throw in some smaller, less used (but still relevant!) hashtags too. Find a balance. This way, you have the best chance of expanding your reach but also being noticed.
3. Build up to BIG moments
Let’s imagine you have some big podcast news to share on Instagram. Maybe you’ll be announcing a new season, or you’re going to have a huge guest on your next episode. You want as many people as possible to see this exciting news, right?
In order to give your next post a boost, you need to get your engagement rate up. And how do we do this?
By engaging, of course!
Spend some time interacting with other accounts – comment on their posts, like their content, and share it on your story. Respond to your DMs, or send some yourself to other members of your niche (no spammy messages though). Add something interactive to your Instagram story, like a poll, which requires action from your followers.
As more and more people engage with your account, the Instagram algorithm will notice this and you should get bumped up the platform’s food chain.
And what does this mean? It means when you publish your next post, Instagram will push it out to more people. You’ll be ranked higher in more people’s feeds, which will expand your reach and spread your podcast news further and futher.
TOP TIP: Always reply to any comments you receive on your Instagram posts. Not only does this help you to build up a relationship with other users, but you’ll be keeping the engagement going on your post for longer.
Some people will wait a few hours, or even a few days, to respond to Instagram comments. This is because they’re waiting for the engagement to drop on their post – then they give it a second lease of life by starting conversations up again.
4. Get the most out of the platform
I’m going to be honest: Instagram is very needy. It doesn’t want you popping on every now and again to throw the odd post out – it wants you to be using as many features as possible. And Instagram has a lot to offer, such as:
- Single posts
- Carousel posts
- Story highlights
- Collaboration posts
- Instagram Live
Think of Instagram (or any social media, to be honest) as a checklist. You should be trying to tick off as many things as possible, and as a result, Instagram will reward its star pupil. If it can see that you’re a committed user, keen to get the most out of the platform, you’ll score higher in the algorithm.
Be careful though – don’t be fooled into thinking this means you should be spewing out as much content as possible day in day out. You should always prioritise the quality of your content above anything else. Just make sure there’s variation. If your last 5 posts have all been single images, how about throwing a video into the mix next time?
5. Tap into reels
I’ll let you in on a secret (shhh, you didn’t hear it here!): Instagram loves reels. They want everyone and anyone to be using them (after all, they’ve got to compete with TikTok).
Because Instagram is really pushing out their reels, they have a higher reach compared to standard Instagram posts. So, in other words, when you post a reel, it gets shared to more new accounts, rather than your existing followers. Therefore, reels can be a great opportunity for new people to come across your podcast for the first time.
Not sure what to make reels about? Here are a few ideas:
- A teaser from your latest episode (you can do this either by filming your podcast episodes, or by making social clips with an audiogram using Headliner).
- Share some behind the scenes content, or bloopers
- Answer some questions with a ‘get to know your host’ reel
- Introduce your next guest
- Jump onto a popular trend or challenge
Combine your reel with some relevant hashtags and away you go!
6. Do a giveaway
You’ve probably seen your fair share of Instagram giveaways. Typically, they involve you having to follow an account, share their post, tag a friend, and in return you’ll be entered into a prize draw.
When executed well, these competitions can be the perfect way for you to grow your Instagram account – and consequently, draw more people to your podcast – because, essentially, what giveaways do is encourage your followers to pass on your content and recommend it to their friends. So, you’re turning your Instagram followers into podcast promoters.
Of course, the key to a good giveaway is a good prize. Why not give away some merchandise for your show? Or dig a little deeper into your target audience – what would they enjoy? If you have a film podcast, a cinema voucher could work, whereas if you have a beauty podcast a makeup palette might be more appropriate. The more creative though, the higher your chances of a successful giveaway.
7. Add captions
If you’re posting video content on your Instagram, it’s never been more important to add captions. Not only does this make your content more accessible to those who are hard of hearing, but it also means people can consume your content while their volume is down.
If people cannot understand your video they won’t hang around to watch it: it’s as simple as that. And if somebody isn’t engaging with your content, Instagram might not show them your posts again.
A study by Verizon Media found that 69% of consumers watch video with the sound off in public, and 80% are more likely to watch an entire video if captions are available.
TOP TIP: Don’t forget Instagram stories. People often focus on their posts, but you should be adding captions to stories too (and it’s really easy to do). If you’re not using captions in your stories, people are more likely to skip past them, meaning your engagement rate will decrease and the algorithm will send your content to the back of the queue.
8. Consistency is key
People often think you should be posting as much as you possibly can on Instagram in order to grow your account, but this isn’t necessarily true. If you’re throwing out 1 (or more) post every day, this is only effective if every post is high quality, with a clear goal in mind and a strong alignment to your target audience.
Every post is a chance for somebody to be introduced to your podcast – and first impressions are incredibly important. So always prioritise quality over quantity. And that involves sticking to a posting schedule that is realistic for you to keep up, and won’t compromise the standard of your work.
If you’re not very good at staying organised and posting consistently, a social media management tool might help you. There are a lot of them out there which can help you to plan, schedule, and track your content – and many of these tools are free (or at least, offer a free trial). Later is a popular one, as they specialise specifically in Instagram, whereas Hootsuite is also a popular choice.
If you would like to know more about what free tools can help you grow your podcast, check out this blog post.
So, there you have it: a crash course in how to grow your podcast on Instagram. There’s a lot to cover, but don’t get too overwhelmed. After all, the best way to gain Instagram success is simply by trying things out and seeing what works – and what doesn’t.
As with all social media, Instagram is not a static platform. It’s constantly changing. New trends. New competition. New changes to the algorithm. It takes resilience to maintain an engaged audience, so don’t be disheartened if things don’t always go to plan. If you really care about your podcast, and you genuinely want people to check it out, the message will catch on soon enough – just you wait.