Will Twitter Ads Grow My Podcast?

I’ve been hosting and producing two podcasts (UNCO and Accessible) for nearly a year now. Each has built a core audience with consistent listenership. In early April, as season 2 of UNCO began to roll out, I decided to test Twitter ads for the show to see if there would be any noticeable impact.

What metrics was I hoping to impact?

At the core, I wanted to grow the number of people listening to my show. I did see quite a bit of growth in listenership during the month I was running ads, but there were many other things that impacted that growth:

  • I was tweeting about new episodes much more often.

  • I began sharing new episodes on LinkedIn.

  • I scheduled older episodes to be re-shared on a weekly cadence.

  • My guests tweeted about the show.

  • The show was linked on 512pixels on two separate occasions (1) (2).

  • Stephen Hackett was the inspiration for a major new feature added to Overcast—clip sharing. When Marco released the feature, he kindly linked my episode where Stephen shared the idea and chose that portion of audio as the example use case for clip sharing. His audience is so large that I got thousands of new listeners.

So I needed a way to directly connect the ad spend to the growth. To do this I focused on 2 (admittedly imperfect) metrics.

  • Link clicks.

  • New followers.

What was my approach?

I tested two of Twitter’s ad options—Quick Promote and Promote Mode. This was not a scientific study. I spent $150 total in this test, and I chose these two ad options because they cost much less time, effort, and money than Twitter’s more advanced advertising campaign tools.

Keep in mind, my podcasts are not my day job. I don’t have tons of time to put into an advertising campaign, and I don’t have much to spend on advertising.

Twitter Quick Promote for Podcast Advertising

What is Twitter Quick Promote?

Twitter Quick Promote is an advertising option you can use in the Twitter app to promote a specific Tweet. It’s pretty simple. On any tweet

  1. Tap to “View Your Activity”.

  2. Tap “Promote Your Tweet”.

  3. Select a location to target.

  4. Select a budget.

  5. Confirm to buy the ad.

QuickPromote.jpg

What did I test?

The first thing I did, was promote the following tweet for $50 in San Francisco. Twitter estimated I would receive 32,000 impressions and 108 engagements.

About halfway through the ad run, I messed up this experiment by playing with the targeting in Twitter Ads Manager. I made the targeting specific to people who tweet about Apple, podcasting, and on and on.

After a few minutes I began to notice that the ad rates on some of those terms were much much higher than a generic San Francisco ad. In retrospect, this makes complete sense. I just wasn’t thinking. I quickly removed all the high-cost terms ($10+ per 1,000 impressions), but I left many of the cheaper specific terms.

What were the results of this admittedly somewhat flawed test?

This tweet received an additional:

  • 9,241 Impressions.

  • 1,761 Media views.

  • 53 Detail expands.

  • 47 Media engagements.

  • 9 Profile clicks.

  • 5 Link clicks.

  • 0 Likes.

  • 0 Retweets.

  • 0 Replies.

  • 0 Follows.

While my messing with targeting did hurt the integrity of this experiment and the brand awareness of many more impressions and media views is nice, my primary 2 metrics (link clicks and follows) did not budge enough to be worth the $50 spend. I actually got more of both organically.

  • 10 Organic link clicks.

  • 1 Organic follow.

Quick Promote.jpg


Should you try Twitter Quick Promote for your podcast?

As a good product manager, I have to say, “It depends.”

You may write better tweets or have more engaging content than I do! You may find that the location-only targeting of Quick Promote works for you, or you may find that hyper-targeting with Twitter’s more advanced ad campaign features is worth the extra cost per impression.

I just tried one tweet, so I can’t say for sure. But honestly, if you’re like me, creating your own podcast, without thousands of dollars to spend on advertising, and without professional marketing help, I don’t think Twitter Quick Promote ads are going to move the needle for growing your listenership.


Twitter Promote Mode for Podcast Advertising

What is Twitter Promote Mode?

Promote Mode is targeted directly at people in my situation. It costs a flat rate—$100 a month, and it runs promotions of your account and your tweets (not including retweets, quote tweets, or replies) automatically, once you sign up, with no time or additional effort required. Twitter describes it as “an affordable, always-on promotion engine”, and they claim you will “reach up to 30,000 additional people and add an average of 30 new followers each month.”

Promote Mode is also easy to set up:

  1. Visit Twitter’s promote mode signup flow. (It’s still in beta, so it’s not available in the app for everyone yet.)

  2. Tap get started.

  3. Select your country and timezone. (Currently only available in United States, United Kingdom, and Japan.)

  4. Chose targeting, interests or location.

    • Interests allows you to select up to 5 from a list of approximately 30 interests.

    • Locations allows you to select up to 5, but they must in the country you selected originally.

  5. Pay

Twitter-Promote-Mode-Targeting.jpg

What did I test?

After my Quick Promote ad campaign completed, I enabled Twitter Promote Mode. It ran from March 31st through April 29th.


What were the results?

Promote mode automatically promoted 20 of @_uncofm’s tweets and ran an account promotion campaign throughout the month. This resulted in:

  • 17,988 Additional people reached.

  • 3 Followers gained.

  • 470 Profile visits.

  • 20 Link clicks (They did not show link clicks on the promote mode dashboard (pictured below), so I went tweet by tweet to add this up. There’s probably a better way to get that information.)

Again. I got significantly more link clicks and followers organically.

Promote Mode-2.jpg

Should you try Twitter Promote Mode for your podcast?

Again. It depends. Promote Mode definitely fit my circumstances much better that Quick Promote.

I didn’t have to worry about $50 being spent on 1 tweet that had to be perfectly crafted, and Promote Mode provided real bumps in reach and profile visits.

But I didn’t gain 30 followers or reach 30,000 additional people, as their ad copy suggested I would, and even if I had, I don’t think it would be worth spending $100 a month on an ongoing basis because of how little direct impact it had on my primary goal—increased listenership.

Keep the Conversation Going

I’d love to hear from you on Twitter @timothybucksf.

  • Have Twitter ads worked for your podcast?

  • Have you used Quick Promote, Promote Mode, or more targeted ads?

  • Do you run ads elsewhere?

  • Have you found any advertising that works for you?