How To Make Your Podcast Go Viral: Examples & Best Practices

.

Starting a podcast is easy. Going viral is the tricky bit. 

Many podcast creators have great ideas but often struggle when it comes to finding an audience. A big part of finding that target audience is getting your show to go viral.

There are no easy hacks that will guarantee your podcast goes viral. Instead, creators should focus on building an audience and making a great show that listeners will want to come back to – and to tell their friends about.

The stats suggest the audience is there for your podcast. Statista found that in 2022 62% of US consumers listen to podcasts, which is up from 42% in 2016. It’s just a matter of finding your niche and creating a product that builds listener numbers.

Here at Zencast, we believe that producing and publishing your hit podcast should be as easy as possible. In this article, we give you our top tips for getting your podcast marketing right and getting your show to go viral.

Create a regular show and keep to a schedule 

Our first tip for making your podcast go viral is to create a regular, repeatable podcast show. Consistency is valued by both listeners and algorithms.

Many podcast creators expect to get tons of listeners and lots of traction after their very first episode. But it takes time to cultivate an audience, and an essential part of winning that audience share is maintaining a consistent level of quality when it comes to output. 

Why listeners love regular episodes

Listeners will not feel compelled to follow and return to your show if they’re not confident you’ll regularly provide new episodes. In fact, by following a regular schedule - such as weekly or daily uploads - you provide your listeners with a great call to action, which should help you retain regular listeners. 

Why ‘featured’ algorithms favor consistency

We like to think that viral marketing is created entirely by word-of-mouth, but this isn’t the case. A large part of how a show wins thousands or even millions of listeners is determined by the algorithm that your podcast platform uses to curate content and push content to users.

The metrics that the content recommendation algorithms at the likes of Apple, Spotify and Google Podcasts use aren’t publicly known. Their recommendation engines are also optimized by AI and machine learning, so not even the companies themselves know exactly how to “beat the algorithm”. 

What we do know is that the goal of these sites is to maximize the time people spend consuming content through their apps. 

They do this by spotting trends in listener music habits and by pushing content they expect their users will enjoy on “Featured” pages.

Consistent shows with tons of episodes get listeners returning, and people are far more likely to binge your podcast if you have a back catalogue with a consistent level of content available for download. 

This increases listening time for the site, and so they’re more likely to promote your podcast if you’ve built your back catalogue and have attained a level of consistency in your output.

Adopting a regular release pattern is exactly how Katie Steckly was able to grow her podcast Creator Club from 2,000 listeners a month at the start of 2021 to over 12,000 monthly listeners by October 2021.

Focus on delivering consistent quality

It isn’t enough to keep posting new episodes regularly. You’ll also need to make sure you’re publishing high-quality podcasts to retain your audience and give your show a chance of going viral.

What should you do to create a high-quality podcast?

  • Give your show excellent production values. Use great microphones and recording equipment to record the show so that the broadcast is a delight for your listeners’ ears.

  • Use music and sound effects (where appropriate) to build a top notch sound aesthetic for your show.

  • Introduce talking points that are relevant, intriguing and topical. 

  • Be engaging and charismatic. Listeners respond to hosts with lots of personality, flair and enthusiasm.  

By keeping these tips in mind you can create a podcast that is engaging and likely to inspire a loyal listener base. And remember, it’s your current listeners that will help spread the word about your podcast and make it a viral hit .

Adopt a niche that resonates with your target audience 

There’s a lot of choice out there for podcast listeners. In fact, by some counts listeners have over 4 million podcasts to choose from. 

Building a podcast around an over-saturated category or topic area is one of the biggest mistakes that new podcast creators make. 

Sure, we understand that many creators want to launch their movies, TV or games discussion podcasts because that’s what they’re interested in. But these types of podcasts are just too broad and don’t give you much of a chance of capturing a sizable audience share.

Instead, you must find your own niche, something that you’re passionate about and, in the case of B2B podcasting, should be relevant to your business. 

Let’s talk about how you can go about finding your podcast niche. 

Write a general list of what you’d like to talk about

The first step is brainstorming your ideas for a podcast. We recommend getting every idea you have down on paper. No idea is wrong, but this initial brainstorm session will help you find the ideas that are right for you. 

How can you come up with these ideas? Ask yourself: 

  • What topics are you passionate about? 

  • What information do people tend to approach you or your business about?

  • Are you considered an expert or a go-to guide in any field?

  • What topics or issues are you interested in hearing about?

  • What do you enjoy researching?

Consider your target audience

Treating your podcast show as a product can work wonders in getting you in the right frame of mind when it comes to finding your podcast niche. 

First, identify what type of listener you’re looking to attract with your show. Ask yourself a few important questions about the target listener of your podcast. 

For example: Are you aiming your podcast at men, women, or both? What is the age range of your target listener - 25-40? Younger, older? Where in the world will most of your listeners be from? 

Businesses using podcasts as a content marketing stream should find niches that will interest their customers. If you have an existing customer base, why not run surveys or focus groups to ask what type of podcasts they’d be interested in? 

Try to be an early adopter in your niche 

Competition and category saturation is one of your biggest enemies when it comes to building your audience numbers. It may seem self-evident, but it’s far easier to build a following and gain a reputation if you’re one of the first to make a show in your niche. 

Creators that target virality often make the mistake of trying to replicate the topics and style of an established podcast. 

But here’s the issue - the listeners who love this approach already tend to be loyal to that podcast show. This audience is often happy with the content put out by the current leader in that niche and won’t likely to a rival, especially to one that has yet to get off the ground.

With this in mind, try to become a thought leader in a niche that has yet to be fully explored. Check out topics that could be better expanded with your expertise. More about that in the next section.

Explore trending topics to find ideas

Ask yourself, what would your target audience want to learn more about and listen to? Find out what’s happening in your industry and find new, exciting trends to cover that may have passed other podcasters by and provide your own unique take to the topic.

Trending topics are a great way to find ideas that have already got some traction and interest among people. How can you explore what people are searching for? Why not try Google Trends? This tool collects search data from Google to find out what topics are sparking interest right now. 

Businesses and serious creators may want to go a step further and use SEO keyword tools like Ahrefs to explore popular search terms so that they can see if there is an audience out there for the things that are currently trending on search engines and social media.

Once you’ve found a possible niche, check out the competition. How many other podcasts are in this same space you are targeting? How can you tweak your content so that it stands out and offers your audience something a bit different? 

Publish your podcast on a variety of platforms

The podcast platform space is controlled by a few big hitters - not one streaming service has complete control over the market. 

To maximize your listener numbers, it’s good to diversify where you publish your show and avoid putting all your eggs in one basket. 

The bar chart below (from Statistics and Data) shows the market shares of common podcast platforms. It’s clear that Spotify is the market leader, but Apple Podcast and Google Podcast are not too far behind.

Once your podcast grows, you may consider joining a podcast network to improve your discoverability. Learn more about podcast networks here.

Use a podcast syndication tool to simplify the process

It can be a difficult and time-consuming business to publish your podcast episodes on a number of different platforms. 

It’s easy to miss a platform when you’re uploading your shows one-by-one to different hosting sites. Time constraints also mean that you’re likely to have to limit the number of sites you publish to, which will reduce your podcast’s reach. 

That’s why we at ZenCast recommend you use a tool to automatically publish your podcast on every available platform. The easiest way to do this is with ZenCast.

All you’ll have to do is upload your episodes once and ZenCast will handle the rest. We ensure that your podcast finds its way onto all the major podcasting platforms. 

Consider publishing your podcast on your own website

A podcast website is an essential tool when it comes to getting your podcast out to your audience. A good 11% of listeners prefer to give the major platforms a miss and download their podcasts directly from a broadcaster’s website. 

A website is also the best way to host detailed information about your show and allows you to rank higher in search results when a listener searches for a term that relates to your show. 

And many listeners love to listen to podcasts offline and so choose to download their favorite shows to their devices. A website is an ideal way of facilitating this.

But remember, maintaining a podcast website can be time-consuming to create and difficult to maintain. That’s why at ZenCast we’ve bundled a website creator into every one of our plans at no additional cost. Our custom podcast websites will update whenever you post a new episode, which means you can push out fresh content easily to your listeners with the click of a button! 

Viral Podcasting made Easy with ZenCast

ZenCast is the easiest way to host your podcast & publish it on every platform. With our tools, it’s easier than ever to publish anywhere your listeners are looking for new content. 

We offer: 

  • One-click publishing to Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and many more platforms.

  • A self-updating website, showcasing your podcast, that is engineered to increase your subscribers.

  • Smart podcast player.

  • Podcast hosting.

Need to get your podcast published easily and start attracting an audience?  Access our all-in-one platform for publishing, managing, and growing your podcast. 

Get started with a 14-day free trial today!


Free podcasting lessons

Podcasting tips and resources delivered directly to your inbox.