TikTok's podcast boom may be a bust

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Common wisdom says that video is the key to podcast discovery: you capture the best clips from your show, hope that every now and then one of them goes viral on TikTok, and then that broader (and younger) audience becomes your new listeners. Unca Jamz is a prime example of this, as it sends a bunch of new attention to Call her father. But even podcasters who have cracked TikTok's code have found that the relationship between in-app interaction and actual listening is tenuous, at best.

This issue may be discussed soon. Last week, seemingly out of nowhere, the US House of Representatives passed a bill that would force Chinese company ByteDance to sell TikTok or ban it from operating in the US. If the Senate passes it (it Big “if”.), the social media landscape in this country is going to change — the podcasting landscape less so.

Larger outlets are using TikTok as part of a multi-pronged strategy — and most of the time, it doesn't work. Perverted celebrity interviews with Gen Z such as Call her father And Really good podcast They perform well on the platform, but they are exceptions. I've heard that the possibility of a TikTok ban and how it might impact marketing strategy has only rarely been brought up during internal discussions at some major audio companies.

NPR's Money planet is one of the few public radio shows that has found its way onto TikTok. Featuring quirky explainer videos starring Courtney Theovin and Jack Corbett Money planet Tik Tok has it 785,000 followersWhich is more than 325,000 NPR's main account.

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“Anecdotally, we find that people learn about podcasts because of TikTok (and vice versa) based on emails/comments/surveys/etc.” Money planet said executive producer Alex Goldmark Hot pod In an email message. “It is very difficult to quantify or measure downloads generated by any specific post on TikTok.”

Even after working hard to build a following on the platform, Goldmark knows better than to rely on it. “We've adapted to TikTok. Jack and Courtney are doing a great job catering to the style and tone of the audience there,” he said. “We will adapt to what comes next. We've been fine since we left Twitter as a company. We never thought that we should depend on any platform to stay the same.

Gary Arndt, a freelance podcaster who hosts a high-profile history show Everything everywhere every day-I managed to get some His interpreters On topics like the Little Ice Age and the development of Route 66 captured by the TikTok algorithm. But through his link tracker, he can see that very few of those viewers bother to click over to the platform to listen to the show.

“A lot of podcasters seem to think they can't do anything, or they just share stuff on social media. It doesn't work.

“Even when a video gets tens of thousands, I'll be lucky if I get more than single digits of clicks in a day,” he said. “The truth is that most social media apps don't want people to leave their environment. They want to keep them there.”

To him, this doesn't fit with traditional marketing like buying promos on shows or similar ads within podcast apps like Overcast and Castbox. Purchased media seems to be doing well, with Arndt saying he gets about 1.5 million downloads a month.

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“Even if it's an independent podcast, it's still media property,” he said. Hot pod. “However, a lot of podcasters seem to think they can't do anything, or they just share stuff on social media. This doesn't work.

But there are certain instances where TikTok can move the needle. Christina Lomagh, who hosts the true crime show Scary tales And a Latin American history podcast Histories unknownAnd I have collected 215,000 followers on TikTok and sometimes produces posts that get over a million views. While her downloads are more modest — about 2,000 a week — Lomag says a viral video could temporarily double her number of listeners.

Lumague may have an advantage for several reasons. Her demographic skews young, with most of them between the ages of 24 and 30, she says. She's also successfully adapted TikTok's favorite technique of front-facing captioning with green screens. Even if TikTok hasn't grown its audience in a consistent way, it's an essential part of its distribution.

“I always hear people say TikTok doesn't convert listeners,” Lomag said. “It does for me. And I've been getting I don't know how many messages saying, 'I found you on Tik Tok and I love it,' so yeah, losing discoverability and engagement is going to be big.”

As the Senate considers how to move forward with the bill, Lumague has joined other TikTok users in calling against the ban. She reposts calls to action on the app and emails admins (“I don't call, because I don't like phone calls”).

The most common phrase I've heard from podcasters is something along the lines of, “We'll just go on Instagram.” But for Lumague, he's not a suitable replacement. Even if Reels is similar in format, she says they prioritize aesthetically pleasing content.

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“TikTok is more casual. 'I can just have a green screen, and I don't have to look great in the video, and it'll be fine,'” she said. “Podcasts that do well on Instagram have professional-looking videos and great cameras truly. You can tell they have a team.

Even Arndt, who has garnered 180,000 followers on Instagram as a travel photographer, says Instagram is a bust for podcasting. “Somehow, video content has gotten worse there,” he said. He's not a fan of TikTok, but “to be honest, it's one of the best apps.”

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