Our client Traackr, an influencer marketing platform, recently launched their podcast, The Fast Traack, discussing issues in influencer marketing in 30 minutes or less. We’ve been really impressed with the caliber of guests and a wide range of newsworthy topics they’ve covered in their inaugural season. Given that marketers across the globe are scrambling to find new avenues to reach their target audiences during the pandemic (check out our interviews with senior marketers here and here), Gravitate VP Heather Sliwinski sat down with Evy Lyons, VP of marketing at Traackr, to find out how to start a brand podcast.
This conversation has been condensed and edited for clarity.
I’m excited to chat with you, Heather!
For sure! It’s been a wild ride the last few months.
This is the first time I have personally created a podcast. Same for Traackr. It was something we have talked about doing f o r e v e r. It took COVID-19 to spur us to action.
Our audience is hungry for examples and we found that many influencer marketers are asking themselves the same questions. So we wanted to create a space where we could ask those questions and provide inspiration.
We noticed that many influencer marketers felt like they were going at it “alone” or doing things that felt uncharted. We wanted to create a space where marketers could share their experiences and get ideas or even reassurance that they are not alone in trying to figure this newish field out. Our social media and influencer marketing manager Mackenzie has spearheaded crafting the conversations we wanted to have.
It also seems to change and evolve every quarter!
I didn’t need to sell the idea to anyone and to be very transparent, we didn’t have specific metrics for the podcast. We really didn’t know what to expect at all. What we did know was that we wanted more stories, more examples, more case studies, more conversation with our customers and experts in the field (aka our influencers).
We were very surprised by the initial feedback we received from the larger Traackr team and our customers. So we just kept going. We’re now about 3.5 months in and have started to get a feel for the reach and engagement metrics so we have a baseline now to start improving. (edited)
It’s great that you have the room to experiment.
We knew it was working because a) we were able to get guests very easily – especially once we had a few episodes to point to as examples and b) people in our target audience would tell us that they enjoyed it.
Yes – sometimes you just have to try something. Get it started. Then iterate.
For the first couple of episodes, we recorded and published as we went.
Our first episode was in the early days of Shelter in Place in the U.S. The question we asked our guest, Katie Martell, was how do you avoid pandering to the pandemic. It was timely.
From there, we started to record regularly – one every week or two. We started to have a backlog, which was amazing.
Recently, we decided to create Seasons. So Season 1 is about to wrap up and we are developing the calendar for Season 2.
My advice to someone starting out is to go with the flow for the first few. Learn and then figure out what you want to change. If we had tried to plan the entire season at first, we may never have started.
No, I don’t think so. If we’ve learned anything in 2020, it’s that we have to have a plan, but be prepared to switch it up if needed. So we will have an outline of the entire season, with pre-selected guests and topics, but we will remain flexible in case a great story comes our way or the world needs a different topic.
It’s not that dramatic!
One: by not locking ourselves into a firm editorial calendar, you have the flexibility to change.
Two: We are not afraid to ask hard questions so we don’t sit around when something happens. For example with Black Lives Matter, we learned about one of our customer's responses to the movement, reached out right away and asked them to join us to share their perspective.
I would imagine it’s hard to convince someone to join a podcast that is brand new vs. one that has more clout or an existing listenership
(if you don’t know them personally)
We started with our personal networks and our customers but very quickly we started receiving inbound requests from super interesting folks. We will keep aiming high and will reach out more and more beyond our own networks.
It is much easier to get started with friendlies. We started with Katie Martell, who is a B2B marketing expert, who has written for the Traackr blog before. What was amazing about Katie is that she has done a lot of podcasting and live events before so not only did she accept to be our first guest, she also ended up giving us a ton of insight and advice that led to major improvements in episode 2.
For example, she introduced us to our editor!
We do handle most of it ourselves. But we have a video editor who helps us clean up the sound and adds in our intro/outro. You could do this on your own too. For publishing, we use Buzzsprout. For captions we use Rev.
Great question. I personally think we still have a lot to learn.
Good sound is critical. I don’t think we always succeeded with that, in part because we have to do this fully remote.
And perhaps the biggest thing I wish I had known was that it is not that hard. I’m not saying it’s easy but I imagine a lot of people get held up thinking it will be hard. Yes, there is a learning curve but it’s possible to get started with very little.
Yes! It has become a huge source of additional content for us. We turn most episodes into resources. Instead of simply sharing a transcript, we use the content to create guides or case studies are super useful on their own and feed our other channels (email, newsletter, LinkedIn, etc.).
You don’t need to have it all figured out to start.
But it is a different format, so think about the listener’s perspective (we are still learning here).
Try different formats out too to see what works for your audience.
Ah! I had a feeling you were about to ask that.
New York Times internet culture reporter - Taylor Lorenz is for sure up there. Also, any CMO at one of the many companies who have pulled out of Facebook advertising.
Yes! That’s why it would be so fascinating to have her!
Thank you Heather! It’s been fun to reflect on the last three months. We had no idea we could build something up so much in such a short period of time. Also LOVE this interview format 🙌