It’s no secret that social media marketing is disrupting the marketing world. In as little as ten years Facebook managed to connect 1 in every six people on the planet.
In this guide, I’m going to explain to you exactly what social media marketing is all about and how you can utilise it to help you take your business to a whole new level.
But, let’s start at the beginning. What exactly is social media marketing?
What is social media marketing?
In a nutshell, social media marketing is any form of marketing that happens on a social media platform like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and many others.
This kind of marketing can be both in the form of free or paid advertising. Before we start, allow me to share some stats with you.
Some interesting social media stats and facts:
- According to The Drum, back in 2015, 52% of consumers were influenced by Facebook marketing and lead to an offline or online purchase. This percentage was up 36% from 2014.
- According to Facebook, there are roughly over 50 million small businesses on its platform, and 4 million of those businesses are utilising paid advertising.
- According to Zephoria, over 300 million photos are being uploaded to Facebook every single day.
- The average time spent on Facebook is roughly 20 minutes per user.
- 80% of Instagram users are outside of the U.S. according to Wordstream.
- Six in every ten adults have an Instagram account
- There are over 8 million registered business on Instagram
- 60% of Instagram users say that they have learned more about a product or service from a business while being on the platform.
- 300 Hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every single minute according to Fortunelords.
- Over 5 billion videos are watched on the platform every day.
- Six out of ten people say they prefer online video platforms to traditional T.V.
- 80% of all YouTube views occur outside of the U.S.
- 9% of U.S small business use YouTube to help promote their products or service.
Advertising is all about getting your message across to customers, and to do that; you need to know where your customers are spending their time.
The above stats indicate what customers are doing when they have free time, and by looking at the numbers, the perfect place to target customers would be social media platforms.
Which social media platforms are the most popular?
Facebook is in first place by far. According to Newsroom.com, Facebook brags with over 1.3 billion daily users, and 2 billion monthly users.
And according to Web Africa, 13 million South Africans are on Facebook.
YouTube is in second place with over 1 billion monthly active users, while 2 million videos get viewed every second.
YouTube has over 8.28 million South Africans using the platform.
According to Tech Crunch Instagram is currently the world’s third most popular platform with over 700 million daily active users, and over 1 million active advertisers.
When it comes to South Africa, approx. 3 million users are using the platform.
This means that Facebook is more than 4x more popular than Instagram under South Africans.
Twitter used to be more popular, however, in the last couple months the platform has shown no to little user growth. Twitter currently has over 320 million active users of which 157 are using the platform daily.
Even though the platform might be stagnating it’s interesting to know that 7.4 million South Africans are on the platform.
Snapchat and Twitter are neck and neck when it comes to fourth place. According to Expanded Ramblings, the platform has over 301 million active users a month.
However, when it comes to daily active users, Snapchat smiles back at Twitter with 166 million users compared to Twitters 157 million.
These are the top 5 social media platforms South Africans, and the world, spend their time on.
Don’t make a mistake thinking that there are only a few platforms out there!
According to Wikipedia, there are over 200 different social networks in the world.
With that said, platforms like Pinterest, Tumblr and LinkedIn might not have made the top 5, but these platforms still show tremendous potential for advertisers.
By looking at the stats above, we can see that these platforms offer a great opportunity for brands and businesses to engage with customers.
And that is exactly what social media marketing is all about.
How can you use these social media platforms to market your business?
In this guide, I’m going to mainly focus on Facebook, only because it’s by far the biggest and most common platform in the world, not to mention the most attractive to market one’s business.
Here are a few simple ways to market your business on Facebook for free:
Start a Facebook Page
The best way to engage with customers on Facebook would be in the form of a Facebook page.
This allows you to talk to potential customers and clients on behalf of your business as opposed to your personal profile where people can also find your family photos and more.
Why you need a Facebook Page for your business:
There are numerous reasons to start a Facebook page today. If you are still on the fence, then maybe these benefits can help change your mind:
1A Facebook page can teach you more about your target audience
Once you start a Facebook page, you will gain access to Facebook insights. Facebook insights allow you to learn more about your followers and their interactions; this can help you streamline and improve your marketing efforts.
2Facebook pages help boost your SEO
In Part 2 of our Beginners Guide to Digital Marketing in South Africa, I broke down what SEO is all about and how it can help you grow your business.
Having a Facebook page can help boost your organic reach in search engines which means free traffic and higher ROI.
3Allows you to advertise on the platform
Later in this guide, I will breakdown how to utilize Facebook’s paid services, but for now, know that having a Facebook page allows you to advertise on the platform.
Without a page, you won’t be able to advertise to potential customers.
4Connect with more customers
A Facebook page allows customers to find and connect with your business.
This opens the door to a conversion or sale which I’m sure no business would want to turn down.
What can you do with a Facebook Page?
You can call your Facebook page whatever you want. However, best practice would be to give it the same name as your business.
This will make it easier for people to connect and build a relationship with the correct entity.
You can store your company’s information on the page which will make it easy for potential customers and clients to reach out to you.
Make sure you add an email, contact number, physical address, a link to your website and some of your biggest accomplishments as well.
This will help increase the authority of your business.
SHOWCASE PRODUCTS AND SERVICES
Using Facebook, you can showcase your primary services and products. This will help customers understand your business while providing them with more information on what you do.
BUILD YOUR AUDIENCE
As the admin of the Facebook page, you can invite others to like your page. Once someone has clicked ‘like’ it tells Facebook that this person is interested in following your business and its updates on the platform.
Facebook will then show your updates to the individual via their news feeds. However, before you get too excited, Facebook has an algorithm called EDGE Rank, and this determines whether your update will make it into your audience’s news feed or not.
STATUS UPDATES AND OTHER POSTS
Facebook is designed with the purpose to share information.
As your business, you can share whatever you want with your audience, and you can do it at any given time, whether it’s latest news or updates about your company, a new product, more information on how you make your goods and/or even just something to get customers smiling; Facebook’s updates are the best way to engage with your potential clients and customers.
Did I mention that you can also share offers and discounts? Make sure you look into it the next time you are running a special.
SEND AND RECEIVE MESSAGES
You can engage with customers in the form of messages using Messenger, the Facebook messaging platform.
If customers have specific inquiries about your business, they can ‘inbox’ you which provides you with the opportunity to make a personal connection and to provide them with the necessary information needed which can hopefully assist in making a sale.
GET CUSTOMERS TO REVIEW YOUR SERVICE
Customers who have experienced your services can review their experience and inform the public about it.
This provides future customers with an idea of what to expect. If you have an excellent rating, it can help convert more customers as it will automatically help increase creditability of your brand.
Start a Facebook Group
What’s the difference between a Facebook Page and A Facebook group?
A Facebook page allows you to advertise on the platform where a Facebook group won’t.
A Facebook page can help customers identify your offerings, location, company details, and achievements.
With a Facebook page, a customer can see what others think about your business while allowing them to message and reach out to you directly.
A Facebook group, on the other hand, puts more focus on community.
What I mean by this is that a page it’s more of a one-way conversation, where a group is more of a two-way conversation due to the fact that groups allow customers to share their thoughts with you and other in the group.
If you run the kind of business where you prefer to connect with clients in a personal manner, then Facebook groups might not be a bad idea.
What can you do with a Facebook Group?
A Facebook groups are all about sharing. You or anyone in the group can share updates at any time in the group’s newsfeed (in the form of a status update, video, photo and more.)
This is the two-way conversation we talked about, and this is great to connect with customers on a personal level.
Allowing people or customers in the group to connect with each other also helps build a stronger and more loyal following.
Facebook groups work well for the following businesses:
- Small to medium-sized businesses
- A business in a small town
- Software companies who want to ensure their customers have a platform to ask questions and learn more about how to utilize its products
- Universities and colleges etc.
An overview of advertising on Facebook
Having a Facebook group or page doesn’t cost you anything, it’s free. As I mentioned before, you can only advertise on Facebook if you have a Facebook page, having a group only won’t allow you to tap into Facebook’s paid services.
With that said, let’s have a look at what you can do with Facebook’s advertising abilities.
TARGET SPECIFIC CUSTOMERS
Most of the popular social media platforms allow you to advertise your business and products on its network.
Facebook, in my opinion, is the best at targeting customers, and I will explain why.
Facebook (because it’s the biggest social network on the planet) gathers the most amount of data on its users.
For the users, it’s probably not always a good thing, but for us as marketers, it’s the best thing since sliced bread.
Let’s say you’re an online golf equipment retailer looking to grow sales by utilizing Facebook marketing. Where do you start? Who do you target?
Well, you’d be happy to know that Facebook allows you to narrow down your target audience, so you can ensure you show your ads to individuals who are most likely to engage with your sponsored content.
With Facebook ads, you can target 45 – 50-year-old golf enthusiasts in the Johannesburg area, who play golf regularly.
But that is not all; you can narrow your audience even further by targeting regular golf players who have a habit of making online purchases.
That’s right, that is how targeted you can be.
GROW YOUR FAN BASE
I mentioned before that you could invite people to like your Facebook page, however, keep in mind the people you invite might not all be interested in what you have to offer.
So, how do you get more relevant customers to follow your business?
Well, you can pay Facebook to advertise your page.
The same way that you targeted customers to buy your golf equipment, you can target customers to follow and like your page so that they can be notified about regular updates.
What are some of the best ways to advertise on Facebook?
Below are some of the best ways you can market your business on Facebook.
- FACEBOOK BRAND AWARENESS ADS
If you’re the new kid on the block and looking to get the name of your company out there, then this objective might be for you.
However, if you have a small marketing budget and need to ensure every cent goes to something that can lead to an ROI, then this is not ideal.
Even though Facebook allows you to show your ad to individuals who will most likely recall your ad, this won’t necessarily mean they are the perfect fit or will engage or make a purchase.
- FACEBOOK REACH ADS
This is objective here is essentially just to get your ad in as front as many people as possible.
It’s very similar to brand awareness ads. However, they do not have the backing of Facebook’s algorithm which allows your ad to be seen by people that might recall your ad.
The primary objective here is just to get people to see it. Your cost per mile or cost per 1000 impressions (people that saw your ad) might be lower, but there is a good chance none of them will remember it.
- FACEBOOK TRAFFIC ADS
If you have a website and want to drive people to a particular page or product on the site, then this is the ideal objective!
When it comes to Facebook traffic ads, one can target your audience according to location, age, gender, interests, etc.
The beautiful thing here is that you are reaching people most likely to click-through to your website.
- FACEBOOK ENGAGEMENT ADS
Engagement in Facebook slang mainly means people that are more likely to comment, like, and share. This doesn’t mean they are going to install your app, download your e-book, or make a purchase on your site though.
This might be a good idea to help drive a particular action. I’ve experimented with engagement ads, and sometimes they work just as well as brand awareness ads.
The reason for this is because if people engage with something, they are more likely to remember it. They also have a better chance of going viral because people might end up sharing it with their friends.
- FACEBOOK APP INSTALL ADS
If you’re a software or app development company or recently launched your own app, then this is perfect for you!
This objective allows your ad to be seen by people who have a higher probability of downloading your app based on their previous behaviors around ads. The moment you click the ad you will be taken to the specific app store associated with your device.
- FACEBOOK VIDEO VIEW ADS
If you have a video explaining how your product or service works then this is the solution for you. By choosing the video view objective, Facebook will assist in showing your ads to individuals who are more prone to watching your video based on their behavior on the site.
If you scroll through your Facebook newsfeed, you will most probably see that half of the posts, if not more, are videos. Video marketing is currently growing at a rapid pace, and most marketers believe that video will drive 75% of traffic by 2020.
- FACEBOOK LEAD GENERATION ADS
I feel so strongly about lead generation ads that I want to approve it even before I explain why.
Facebook lead generation ads allow you to advertise and collect important data from potential customers while growing your database and mailing list.
Any marketer would tell you that an email and contact number is gold so with that in mind, the moment you collect that data, you have a direct line of communication with your new potential customer and now it’s just up to you to make the sale.
Social media marketing is for everyone, no matter what the size of your company, and no matter whether you are online or offline based.
Facebook makes it easy for you to target exactly who you want to target, and by putting your ad in front of the right people, you can ensure a higher ROI.
When it comes to Facebook marketing keep in mind that you can either set up a Facebook page or a Facebook group. Ideally, I suggest you have both.
If you want to spend money on Facebook advertising to start marketing your brand and products, then it’s essential that you start by setting up a Facebook page.
There are numerous ways to advertise your business on Facebook. However, it’s up to you to determine what your main objective is before starting your first campaign.
Implementing 2 Advanced Google AdWords Strategies
Find out how Dynamic Search Ads and Call-Only Campaigns can give you that competitive edge you need on Google AdWords.
Let’s explore two advanced Google AdWords campaign types: Dynamic Search Ads and Call-Only campaigns. Give these two campaign types a try. They’ll let you squeeze even more from your AdWords account.
Dynamic search ads (DSAS)
Dynamic search ads are magical keys to reaching your customers. And the best part? Using them is easy once you master the setup.
What Are DSAs?
Google knows it’s hard to keep your campaigns perfectly in sync with your website. If you have an e-commerce site with thousands of products changing regularly, it’s a chore to be constantly creating new keywords, new ad groups and new ads inside your AdWords account.
DSAs were created to fill this gap. They let you show ads to excellent prospects who might be searching for items you sell on your site even if you don’t have a corresponding keyword for them in your account.
Why should you set up a DSA?
As long as you set a low cost-per-click, dynamic search ads typically have a decent CPA and provide additional relevant traffic. They’re also great for research as you get to uncover new search terms that people are using to find your site. (You can use this intelligence after the fact to add new keywords to your account.)
Let’s say you’ve just started selling wrought-iron fire pits on your e-commerce site but you don’t have the keywords for them yet in your AdWords account. A new prospect – we’ll call her Kim – is currently online searching for this by name. Kim types it in verbatim: “wrought iron fire pits.”
If you have a DSA campaign set up, you’re in luck: Google instantly recognises that you sell these but don’t yet have keywords for the purpose. Thankfully, you don’t miss a beat with Kim – Google shows her your Dynamic ad, then she clicks, comes to your website and makes a purchase.
How do they work?
It starts with Google regularly scanning your website and keeping an index of all its pages. When you’re starting out, you can choose to point Google to your entire site – we recommend this for your first DSA campaign – although later on you can target specific categories within your site.
Google knows what keywords are in your account and, more importantly, what keywords are not there. This means they can make accurate judgments about when to step in and show your DSA ads.
When setting up DSAs, Google creates the headline and you write the description. They choose the final URL and you set the bid.
Here’s how to set up a DSA:
- Create a new campaign. One of the options you’ll see is to create a DSA campaign. We suggest not using that as it would limit your options further along. Instead, create a new Search campaign with “all features.” Your plan will be to only use DSAs inside that campaign.
- You’ll need at least one ad group to hold your DSAs, and one is typically enough if you’re just starting out.
- You still want to be split-testing, even though Google chooses your headline for you. So, create two different DSA ads with different body copy in each.
- Choose the target. Start with the “all webpages” default. Save the advanced targeting for later.
- Add in ad extensions just as you would for a regular campaign.
Ongoing management of your DSA
Review your data. Keep an eye on the search queries Google chooses, particularly in the first few days. This lets you add any new negative keywords that you don’t want your ads shown for. And it’s a good way to identify and add new keywords you hadn’t yet thought of for other functioning campaigns. (You can add these new keywords as negatives in your DSA campaign, which forces that keyword traffic over to new campaigns in your account. Your DSA campaigns won’t be affected.)
These allow you to create search ads where Google shows your phone number rather than a headline. As such, they only show on mobile devices capable of making calls.
A person clicks on your ad, which starts the process of calling your business directly from their mobile, rather than taking them to your site.
Why use call-only?
Call-only campaigns force people to call your phone number rather than visit your site. If generating more phone calls is high priority for your business, call-only campaigns are worth testing.
How to set up call-only campaigns
Setup is simple. You can create a new campaign from scratch or just copy your existing search campaigns and change the ad type. Replace regular ads with call-only ads.
Tip: Google wants to see individual ad groups with a reasonable number of impressions at the ad group level. So a small number of ad groups with more keywords in each one – generating more impressions per ad group – will work better for call-only campaigns.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com
The 5 Characteristics Of Social Media Websites That Go Viral
There is no formula for a site that goes viral but you can see what’s missing from those that don’t.
With the advent of the web 2.0 comes a shift from simple and bland web pages to dynamic and interactive web platforms. It is now possible to create a social media site that does not only attract new businesses, but also foster relationships and create opportunities for other people.
The possibilities are endless and the barrier to entry is becoming ever thinner that one has no other choice than to key in to the new phase. Or rather, the new craze.
Every day, we see another social media site popup with the claim to become the new Facebook or the new Instagram. Even more, we are bombarded with jargon such as likes, comments, shares and viral content – words previously that never had any significance in the grand scheme of things.
But internet entrepreneurs are not giving up on the dream to create their own social networks using newer ideas and strategies. According to get2growth, there are about 472 million entrepreneurs worldwide running 305 million start-ups annually, out of which 1.35 million are internet based.
Some of these entrepreneurs, who run social media networks, have found that the proven path to success is to have an intuitive idea plugged into a quick go-to-market strategy. Nevertheless, most importantly, finding the sweet spot between what’s important for the customer and what intrigues them is an important trigger for virility.
That is why the easiest way to create a social media website or forum today is to create a platform that is positioned to go viral. So, how do you go about that? This article provides some useful tips.
1Know what’s important to the users
What the user needs is the first consideration when you want to create a social media website that goes viral. Without fulfilling this need, there will be no need to create an online community in the first place.
That is why the first question to ask is, why should people use your site instead of the other available platforms? How do you create a unique social media site so that users will always have a reason to come back?
Think of it this way: Will a user become so excited about a feature or tool on your site that they encourage their friends to use it too? Or will your site help the user connect with their friends in a way other social networks do not?
If you can find the things that are important to the users and create your site around those things, then you would have a community that others will really want to be a part of.
2Integrate features that encourage interactions
Online interactions are the fuel on which online communities thrive. The desire to interact is why there will are forums and social networking sites, so it’s important that you integrate features that foster interactions and encourage users to create exciting content.
A good way to do this is to use a platform that provides powerful tools for creating beautiful social networks. Here you have two options: Use white-label social network creators; Ready-to-go solution like Ning; or build-it-yourself frameworks like Django (Python) or CakePHP (PHP).
The most important features to consider are the site layout, community building options (such as forums, pages and groups), call-to-actions, and the site navigation. The plan is to intuitively provide users the freedom to choose how they want to interact.
3Provide powerful visual and creative tools
Users make the rules when it comes to what is shared or recommended online, so it’s wise that social networking sites provide the tools to encourage required users’ behaviours.
For example, users tend to spend more time on sites that encourage some creative activity. If that activity produces a visual result and the option to share, the user will be more likely to share it with a friend.
A survey published on Adweek revealed that users are more engaged on Instagram than on Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter. Instagram is cozy. This lends credence to the claim that visuals and creative tools can help keep social network users engaged and even more willing to recommend content.
As you may know, Instagram allows more visuals than all the other platforms, with users sharing full-size landscape and portrait photos that may fill the whole of a viewers screen. This gives more content visibility and increase in user engagement and sharing, which is no surprise seeing the immense growth recorded by the platform even before it was acquired by Facebook.
4Push notification is a must-have
Creating a social media site that goes viral requires keeping users updated on the activities happening in their network. You never know which notification about something a user cares about will trigger an engaging discussion with potential to go viral.
Push notification provides real-time access to content on devices, especially mobile, and encourages return visits and more on-site activity, which are useful metrics for the growth of social media sites and any other site type for that matter.
Not incidentally, users tend to value push notifications more when the content delivered is useful. According to this survey, 70 percent of users were happy to enable push notifications on their favorite apps. This reportedly doubled click through rates when compared to email notifications and a higher response rate compared to when notification was not deployed.
Activities such as these improve the chances of making a social network go viral and quickly increase user growth.
5Create the set-up with “shareability” in mind
Building a successful social network requires that the end is considered right from the beginning. All functionalities must be planned according to the user behaviors anticipated. A social network set up to go viral will therefore, have to consider shareability right from the beginning.
The site setup should include layouts that allow users to easily access, interact, and share content. Features such as sharing buttons, call-to-actions, tagging, image size, and site layout can encourage sharing among groups and help position content in places where they are more visible.
The better user-interface, the easier it is for users to navigate through the site and access more useful content, which increases user engagement and shareability. However, do not forget to analyse and measure your social activity – the Holy Grail of engagement.
So, what plans do you have?
Creating a social media site that goes viral is never an easy task, but if you know what you are doing from the beginning and have a workable plan, you should be able to find some success.
You just need to come up with a strong idea that your users believe in. Something like a unique selling proposition that actually feels a need for the majority of users.
A simple change in the way a user report a story, tag photos or share their passion can be enough to make your social network the rave of the moment. But you need to have a unique plan to take you from zero to hero.
So, what is your plan?
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
How To Talk Your Way To Success With Podcasts
Podcasting is taking the world by storm. Not only can it be extremely profitable, but it can be a great way to grow and market your business.
The rise of the average Joe
Some of the most successful podcasts in the world were created by relative unknowns.
Tim Ferriss’s 2007 book The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich was a phenomenon. The self-help/business book spent more than four years on the New York Time’s bestseller list and has been translated into
35 languages. To date, around 1,3 million copies have been sold. It’s fair to say that every author on the planet would be happy with this sort of success. When it comes to book publishing, it doesn’t get much better than this.
Now compare the success of The 4-Hour Workweek with that of Ferriss’s podcast, The Tim Ferris Show. At the end of 2016, the show reached 100-million downloads, meaning that since the creation of the show, individual episodes have been downloaded more than 100-million times through iTunes and other podcasting channels.
Ferriss hadn’t anticipated that level of success. In fact, he started podcasting on a whim, just to see what the response would be.
“I was burned out after The 4-Hour Chef, which was nearly 700 pages, and I wanted a casual but creative break from big projects,” says Ferriss on his blog. “Since I enjoyed being interviewed by Joe Rogan, Marc Maron, Nerdist, and other podcasting heavies who really move the needle, I decided to try long-form audio for six episodes. If I didn’t enjoy it, I would throw in the towel and walk.
“My rationale: Worst-case scenario, the experience would help me improve my interviewing, which would help later book projects. This is a great example of what Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert, would call ‘systems’ (win even if you lose) thinking.”
So, he saw it as a win-win. Even if the response wasn’t great, it would have been a worthwhile experience. Ferriss also applied one of his regular approaches to podcasting, asking himself: What would this look like if it was easy? Some popular podcasts, like Freakonomics Radio, for example, are highly produced and have a strong narrative structure.
Ferriss knew that he was most likely to stick with it if he made it as easy as possible to do. So, instead of a complex podcast that required a script and heavy editing, he opted for a freeform conversational structure. He simply turned on the microphone, and started talking to people.
Monetising a podcast
Even though podcasts are generally free to download, they can create a nice revenue stream. But, as is often the case in the digital sphere, it’s a numbers game. You need some real traction before the money starts to roll in. Like banner ads, podcasts work on a CPM (cost per impression) model. Popular podcasts have sponsors who pay for a pre-roll message/ad at the start of the podcast. A typical figure is $18 (R234) per 1 000 downloads for a 15-second spot, or $25 (R325) for a 60-second message. Many podcasts have more than one sponsor, so you could make more per 1 000 downloads. Also, as the popularity of a podcast increases, the CPM rate also goes up.
“Premium podcasts tend to charge between $25 and $100 CPM. By ‘premium’, I mean high-converting, single-host, iTunes top-50 podcasts,” says Ferriss.
So, if your CPM is $50 and you’re getting 100 000 downloads, you multiply 50 with 100 to get an income of $5 000 (R65 000) per sponsor per episode.
Tim Ferriss could be making millions a year from his podcast alone, but he chooses not to monetise too aggressively.
“If I wanted to fully monetise the show at my current rates, I could make between $2 million and $4 million per year, depending on how many episodes and spots I offer. So why only ‘if I wanted to fully monetise?’ Because ‘fully monetising’ — bleeding the stone for all it’s worth — is nearly always a mistake, in my opinion,” says Ferriss.
“I want to convert casual listeners into die-hard, fervent listeners, and I want to convert casual sponsors into die-hard, fervent sponsors. This requires two things: Playing the long game, and strategically leaving some chips on the table. As a mentor once told me: ‘You can shear a sheep many times, but you can skin him only once.’”
Indeed, if you want to create a successful podcast, it’s important not to try and monetise too early.
“Novice podcasters (which I was) and bloggers get too distracted in nascent stages with monetisation,” says Ferriss. “In the first three to nine months, you should be honing your craft and putting out increasingly better work. Option A: You can waste 30% to 50% of your time to persuade a few small sponsors to commit early and stall at 30 000 downloads per episode because you’re neglecting creative. Option B: You can play the long game, wait six to twelve months until you have a critical mass, then you get to 300 000 downloads per episode and make 10x per episode with much larger brands. If you can afford it, don’t be in a rush. Haste makes waste. In this case, it can make the difference between $50 000 per year and $1 million per year. To reiterate a phrase more often used for blogging: Good content is the best SEO.”
Of course, you could argue that a self-help guru like Ferriss has a much easier time launching a podcast than your Average Joe, and he certainly has an existing audience, but he believes that anyone can start a great podcast. Being a ‘famous’ person doesn’t guarantee success, and some of the biggest podcasts around were created by relative unknowns.
“Coming to the party with a pre-existing audience isn’t enough. Celebrities, YouTube icons, and bestselling authors start podcasts every week that get abandoned three weeks later,” says Ferriss.
“Like everyone else, at one point, I had zero readers and zero listeners. We all start out naked and afraid. Then your mom starts checking out your stuff, or perhaps a few friends give a mercy-listen, and the fragile snowball grows from there.”
Creating your own podcast
Starting a podcast is relatively simple and cheap. All you really need is a microphone, a guest and an iTunes account. As mentioned earlier, it’s better to start small, gain momentum, and then think about monetisation down the line.
“Upload at least two or three pre-recorded episodes when you launch your podcast. This appears to help with iTunes ranking, which — like bestseller lists — can be self-propagating. The higher you rank, the more people see you, the higher you continue to rank,” says Ferriss.
He also recommends that you keep things simple. “Most would-be blockbuster podcasters quit because they get overwhelmed with gear and editing. I decided to record and publish entire conversations (minimising post-production), not solely highlights. I also use a tremendously simple gear set-up and favoured Skype interviews for the first 20 or so interviews, as the process is easier to handle when you can look at questions and prep notes in Evernote or a notebook.
“As Tony Robbins would say: Complexity is the enemy of execution. You do not need concert hall-quality audio. Most people will be listening in the subway or car anyway, and they’ll forgive you if recordings are rough around the edges. Audio engineers will never be fully satisfied with your audio, but 99,9% of listeners will be happy if you’re intelligible and loud enough.”
Other ways of making money
The CPM/sponsorship model is not the only way to make money with podcasting. You are, of course, also free to approach companies about sponsorship outside the CPM model. If you’ve got a podcast that will align well with a specific brand, you could approach the company about funding the show.
You could also ask your audience to sponsor the show. Neuroscientist and philosopher Sam Harris has a popular podcast called Waking Up, which is created entirely through audience contributions. Harris doesn’t believe in the CPM model, since he thinks it can sometimes seem a bit greedy and also forces listeners to sit through a lot of ads.
The popular Joe Rogan Experience podcast typically has around 12 minutes of ads, while The Tim Ferriss Show usually has about six minutes of ads. Harris has no ads, but does ask his listeners for donations. Of course, only a fraction of listeners will ever decide to pay for the content you create, but if you have enough listeners (Harris has around 800 000 every week), a relatively small number is enough to make it worthwhile.
You can ask for donations through your own website, or through a service like Patreon, which is an American Internet-based membership platform that provides business tools for creators to run a subscription content service.
You should also keep in mind that a podcast can be a smart investment, even if you make no money from it whatsoever. A podcast can be a great way to position yourself as an expert or thought leader in a particular industry. So, instead of trying to monetise your podcast directly, you can use it as a form of content marketing to promote your products and services. Importantly, though, you should not be too aggressive in your marketing. If the podcast feels like nothing more than an extended ad for your business, listeners will be put off. Instead, focus on creating great content that will drive people to your online channels.
A podcast can also be a great networking tool. You might not be able to get a meeting with a successful CEO, but you could invite him or her onto your popular podcast. Once that relationship has been created, talking business becomes easier. You could also offer your podcast to customers as a platform to discuss their own business successes and challenges. Regardless of how you choose to utilise the medium, podcasting provides an excellent opportunity to speak directly to an audience that no entrepreneur should ignore. EM
“Like everyone else, at one point, I had zero readers and zero listeners. We all start out naked and afraid. — Tim Ferriss
Did you know?
Podcasts are the single fastest growing medium in the world.
The rise of Gimlet Media
Gimlet Media in the US was created a few years ago specifically as a podcasting company. Gimlet’s first season of its first podcast show, Startup, follows the launch of the company. It’s a warts-and-all look at how the company tried to secure funding, find offices and hire staff. If you want to get into podcasting, it’s definitely worth a listen.
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