It’s said that around 70% of podcast listeners come through the iTunes app. However, in my opinion, that isn’t a stat that podcasters should focus on. The reason being is that there are so many other untapped avenues to gain new listeners. Plus, leaning toward non-conventional methods of gaining listeners benefits podcasting as a whole. By breaking out of the iTunes box, podcasters are no longer competing for the same set of ears.
That being said, how do podcast charts work on iTunes and shape the listening experience? Well, for one, charts cater to new subscribers and reviews. Like many social media platforms, iTunes benefits from engaging subscribers and keeping them in the platform. Second, the iTunes charts are mainly designed to be a sort of “tool of discovery.” It rewards podcasts that interact heavily with its subscriber base.
So, if the iTunes charts are primarily designed to discover podcasts and are driven by interactions, it’s easy to see how podcasts move up in the charts because they are getting more interactions by moving up in the charts. As such, if you want to move up on the iTunes charts, it only makes sense that you tailor marketing your podcast to the iTunes platform.
To summarize, iTunes charts were not made to showcase the value of your podcast. Its primary objective is to keep subscribers on the platform. Meaning, all podcasts are not receiving equal representation and thus, your podcast may have a difficult time cutting through the clutter and getting heard. While the iTunes charts may provide some with a tool to “discover” more popular podcasts, it also creates a bit of a feedback loop.
How can a new podcast gain new listeners for its audience if it’s not being seen? As stated above, there are so many untapped avenues and non-conventional methods. Making full use of social media platforms or starting a blog are just a few ways. The key is creating new content for your listeners. Give them something to interact with on more than just the audio level. You want to pull them into to your podcast and one of the fastest ways to do that is through grabbing their eye through social media.
Podcasting is a relatively new phenomenon and its potential is only just starting to be realized. There is more to the medium than simply a chart. The task for every podcaster is not only to create engaging content for their audience but to also help the podcasting medium explore its own potential.