Are You Growing Your Listenership Through Facebook Ads With the Right Approach?

Facebook Ads have been the lead-generating go-to for many business owners for a while now. And despite how much things have changed since its inception, too many podcasters still just jump right into the platform expecting a giant result without considering whether their approach is even in congruence with their goals.

See, for many podcasters, the audience is the product, and the customer or client is the sponsor who wants to sell advertising to listenership. But if you’re an entrepreneur using your podcast to sell a service to right-fit clients, how you approach Facebook (or any other platform) has to be different.

In this episode of The More Profitable Podcast, you’ll learn an effective way of growing your audience with Facebook ads and how they affect the impact of your show. I’ll also reveal what you need to consider beforehand and why there’s a discrepancy between your audience and conversion rate.

5:17 – How Facebook advertising is different now and the advice you should be wary of

7:27 – The outdated strategy many podcasters still use with Facebook Ads

9:05 – How to run Facebook Ads to get the podcast (and business) results you want

11:48 – How to retarget someone who has previously engaged with your business

12:54 – What you need to ask yourself and reevaluate before you seek out more listeners

16:47 – How I’m planning to use retargeting to sharpen a tool I already have

18:43 – Two reasons for a disconnect between your listenership and sales and how you can get help

Mentioned In Are You Growing Your Listenership Through Facebook Ads With the Right Approach?

“This Guy Executed An Epic Revenge Plan On His Roommate Using Facebook’s Targeted Advertising” by Katie Richards | Business Insider

How to Make a Well-Organized Podcast Even Better with Elizabeth Sherman

Podcasting for Profitability Roundtable

Podcast Strategy Intensive

Podcast Production

Whenever a conversation of podcast growth comes up, I always can count on one thing coming up for sure. At any point in the last 12 years of my podcasting, I can trust that one thing is definitely coming up and you want to know what it is? It's Facebook Ads.

So today we're going to talk about this because the way we think about podcast growth as business owners who are using our podcast to generate, educate, and convert right-fit clients is not the same as how someone who is looking to grow an audience so that they can sell sponsorships or get picked up by a podcast network or whatever else it is, the growth metrics, the growth goals are not the same. How we use Facebook Ads also has to shift. So let's talk today about growing your listenership with Facebook Ads.

Welcome to The More Profitable Podcast with Stacey Harris. I'm Stacey. This is the spot to learn more about the strategies, tactics, and tools you need to build your more profitable podcast. My team and I work every day with podcasters like you to shift shows from frustrating time sucks to productive members of your sales team, because your show should be built to generate and convert leads. So let's get into it.

I feel like before we get into this, I should preface with the fact that I am not a Facebook Ads stan. I am not somebody who lives and dies by Facebook Ads and I am absolutely someone who's also used Facebook Ads in their business to grow their podcast, to sell products, never services, so this is not going to be a love letter to Facebook Ads and it's also not going to be like a hate post.

I want to start this off with this, there is absolutely a place for a Facebook Ads strategy or a paid ads strategy in your podcast growth plan. Absolutely, 100%, there's room for it. However, we need to be thoughtful about it and it needs to make sense in the larger marketing growth plan of not just your podcast but your business. That's what I want to talk about today.

Before we dig into that, I want to mention that this is probably the most frequent question we get in the roundtable. It's a conversation we have a lot on roundtable calls. In all honesty, that is why we're having it here on the podcast because this is a common question and a conversation that we have frequently and I wanted there to be a resource.

If you have questions about this, about anything in your podcast, The Podcast Roundtable is your first step. It is an absolutely free call, you will usually get a small group together, you can ask me whatever you want about podcasting, and I'm going to answer it. I may send you resources like this podcast, I may just answer it. We may talk back and forth. It'll just depend on your question, but it is a monthly resource built for you, the business owner who is using their podcast to generate, educate, and convert their right-fit clients into their service or info-based business.

It's for you. Head on over to uncommonlymore.com/roundtable and reserve your seat. Just a heads up, there are no replays of this call, there is not a recording that is sent out. This is your time to come and sit down belly-to-belly, face-to-face through Zoom with me and with other podcasters who are growing a show just like yours. Again, uncommonlymore.com/roundtable. It’s coming up so make sure you have your seat reserved.

With that, let's dig into this because again, we are building this as a resource. When we talk about looking at your FAQs and building content for the things that come up most frequently, this is your living breathing example of exactly that.

I do want to add in the context of this episode, I am talking about Facebook Ads, but a lot of what we're talking about here is going to apply to any paid ad strategy. When we're talking about running ads on Pinterest, Instagram, TikTok, or Google, I want you to be asking yourself a lot of these same questions and keep in mind that because the platforms are different, and the thing I'm thinking of as I'm noodling through this is Google, I'm going to do my best to, inside of the episode, point out where there's that nuance in other platforms, but for the most part, we're having this conversation around Meta, Facebook, Instagram, that ads platform, because honestly, it's the one most frequently brought up.

That's a conversation for another day. If this is helpful, and there's interest in having more conversations about paid ad strategies, I'm happy to have them. But for today's conversation, I want to be talking about the one that generally feels the most accessible to my clients, to my community, and that's Facebook Ads, that's Meta, that's getting in and doing something that probably over the last 10 years, they've done before.

Here's where we hit our first bit of nuance when we talk about growing our listenership with Facebook Ads. Facebook Ads have been the go-to get-clients-now mechanism for business owners for 10 to 12 years. When I opened my business and started this whole shenanigan-ry in 2011, I cannot believe it's been 13 years, in 2011, Facebook Ads were like an obvious yes. The targeting was insane as we now know, based on the privacy conversations we've had with regards to Facebook Ads, the data they have on all of us, the ability to get in front of the person was incredible.

I remember reading an article years ago and if I could find it, I will link it in the show notes. But a person ran an experiment to see if they could target and essentially torture prank their roommate and they did successfully, and only that via insanely specific targeting with Facebook Ads. That's how deeply ingrained and how dead on you can get.

I think about the TikTok algorithm of 2020 when you just saw video after video that the comments were filled with like, “Oh, my god, was this made for me?” Facebook Ads used to be the same way. You could get an ad in front of exactly the right person at frankly, in most cases, exactly the right moment.

Facebook Ads are not like that anymore. Facebook Ads do not perform the way they once did. A lot of that is because there have been changes around privacy and legislation around how targeting is allowed or not allowed and also what data they are allowed or not allowed to collect, hold, and share.

I want you to be weary, not shut yourself off from, but be weary of Facebook Ad consultants that are telling you that Facebook Ads or Instagram ads are just a magic potion to get you listeners now because they are not. They're simply not. However, there is a version of Facebook Ads, there is a way of running ads that can absolutely still help you with your podcast results, let's say, that I love.

It becomes less about “Let me just turn on some Facebook Ads” and more about “How can I be strategically running Facebook Ads?” That's what I want to shift us into as we move into our next piece. What is the structure where this can work?

Because what I most often see is somebody go, “Awesome, I want to grow my listenership with Facebook Ads. That means I need to be targeting my most popular episodes to a cold audience that maybe is, at best, a look-alike audience to my email list. That'll do it. I'll get thousands of new downloads and tons of new subscribers and people will just be knocking down my door.”

Except that is rarely what happens. Generally, $50 to $100, to $500 to $1000, to $5,000 later, they are frustrated. They are burned out and they have no idea why this won't work. I'll say this is generally when people end up in a Facebook Ads hate camp where Facebook Ads don't work anymore. In reality, they were applying, at best, an outdated strategy.

With that said, this has never, ever, ever been my favorite way to use podcasts and paid advertising together. What I want you to instead be thinking about is “How can I drive an ad that gets me visibility on who's raising their hand? Then how can I use the podcast to support converting them?”

Here's how we do that. Instead of running a Facebook Ad to a look-alike audience that is our podcast, we run them to an opt-in. That opt-in can absolutely be an email series that is a collection of episodes. That is a great way to do that. We talked with Elizabeth Sherman not too long ago, a couple of episodes back, check it out. I cannot recall the title right now but I believe it was something around making a well-organized podcast even better. I'll link it in the show notes.

But we had a conversation with Elizabeth a couple of weeks ago and we talked about a podcast episode guide. That would be a great thing to be running as a front-end ad because then, when someone clicks on the ad, when someone engages, they're not just going to a show notes page on my website and I can only really track them through my ads analytics, in my website analytics to hope that two things come together, no, then I'm seeing them raise their hand and they're hitting my email list.

Then I can be engaging them with podcasts on content through an automated sequence. I can be walking them through education and conversion because we already generated them with that ad. However, we generated them to an email list instead of just a random page on my website, a random episode that hopefully they stuck around and listened to because I'm sure, while scrolling Instagram on their phone, they totally ran into your 45-minute podcast episode and were like, “Oh wait, let me drop everything and listen to this now.”

That's always what happens. It's not what happens. I hope you notice the sarcasm in my voice. But on the off chance you did not, that is not how it works. If we send them to an opt-in, like a roundtable, a private podcast, or a podcast episode guide, I wouldn't call it a podcast episode guide in your ad sequence, I would talk about it as a get-a series on XYZ result but I'm going to trust that you know email opt-in optimization, but then we're using our email to feed them additional podcast episodes that again, nurture them, move them through that education process and into conversion town.

That's where we're helping them make the decision and actually convert. While we're doing this, what if they go in the email? What if they're not engaging with those emails? Let’s say our opt-in was a roundtable, how can we still be using our podcast in this process? This is where I like retargeting ads.

This, I will be honest with you, has always been my favorite version of Facebook Ads, the ability to retarget someone who has previously engaged with. If you've opted into the email list, I can upload that and say I want to target this audience on Facebook and Instagram. I want them to be sent two episodes because now, if I am retargeting you with the episodes that are in that email sequence, now I've got two touchpoints with the same content.

I've got a, “Oh, yeah, I wanted to listen to that.” “Oh, yeah, I wanted to check this out.” “Oh, yeah, I wanted to act on that email that Stacey sent me.” Instead of using Facebook Ads to target new listeners with your podcast and hope they get on board, I want you to think about “How can I use the podcast to reengage or further nurture people I've already attracted?”

Because we have to have an honest conversation that I don't think we're having often enough, which is, if you want more listeners, my first question to you is always going to be are you converting the listeners you have?

Because if you're running a podcast and you're seeing zero sales from that podcast, it's not time to get more listeners, it's time to reevaluate the sales asset portion of your podcast because I'm going to be honest with you, most frequent, people who want to talk to me about growing their listenership, with paid advertising or not, are people who are frustrated by the lack of conversions from their podcasts.

When I go listen to their podcast, it's because their podcast is built to love up their audience. They're thinking of that as nurture. But when we talk about nurture, and we're going to talk about this in some upcoming episodes, in fact, next week, we're going to talk about this a lot, when we talk about nurture, when we talk about educate, we're not talking about leaving them in a suspended state of “Here's everything I know.” We're talking about moving them in the direction of a purchase decision.

That purchase decision might be no but they got to the point of making a purchase decision. They got on a sales call. They went to a sales page. They listened to an episode that was an audio sales page and decided they were in or out. We're moving them through deciding if you solve the problem they have and if you're the person to help them solve that problem.

That's what we're talking about when educating, again, we're going to dig into this again next week, a little more deeply. But this is the purpose of our podcast and if our podcast is not currently doing that, and if you go back and listen to a handful of your episodes, and you're going, “Huh, where's the call to action?” You're probably in this pool.

You've got to first be looking at that. Because growing an audience is not going to help you sell more if you're not currently selling anything. The last thing I want you to do is be paying to grow that audience when you're not currently seeing any sales results.

Just as a side note, you can apply this to literally anything. If you are not currently getting any clients from your social media, running ads to grow your following is not going to get you more sales. If you're not currently getting any sales from your email list, running ads to grow your email list is not going to get you more sales from your email list.

You have to look at the conversion point because your problem may not be eyeballs alone. Your problem is likely your inability to close so look at the process of closing. That's why I'm talking about your best investment when looking at paid ads might not be to go get new listeners, it might be to reengage old listeners.

If you're somebody who, like me, has an opt-in for a private podcast but that private podcast took a bit of a hiatus at the tail end of last year, as you may have noticed The Podcast Newsroom did, as we shifted to testing our monthly roundtable—The Podcast Newsroom is coming back by the way this year—but we made that shift because we wanted to focus on the roundtable. I wanted to be having these conversations more directly with my community and the people we were bringing in.

But now when The Podcast Newsroom relaunches, we will likely run retargeting ads re-engaging people who are already subscribed to The Podcast Newsroom. That would be a better use of my ad investment and my time than going out and trying to find 50 new listeners or 500 new listeners to this podcast or The Podcast Newsroom because I’m not doing anything with the audience, it's already there.

More is not better. More is simply more. The only time where more offers us an improvement is when we're effectively using what we've got now. If I'm sitting at a dinner table, and I'm trying to cut a steak with a butter knife, having two butter knives is not going to make that steak easier to cut. Having a steak knife will.

What I want you to think through is “Am I trying to use Facebook Ads to grow my listenership in a way that is just me trying to cut us with two butter knives or is it time for me to investigate where maybe my knives need sharpened?” It’s not about having another one, it's about sharpening it.

I want you to think about that if you're somebody who is considering Facebook Ads. What's your show doing right now? Honestly, this is something we've done a lot in our Podcast Strategy Intensives. If you're evaluating your show, you're thinking through your last few episodes, and you're like, “I'm spending all of my time trying to convince some smart that I know enough to be their expert and they're not getting on sales calls. I can't get anybody to get on a sales call with me,” then the discrepancy, the disconnection, the issue is not with more listeners.

It's either that you have the wrong listeners right now, which paying to get more wrong listeners is not going to solve your problem, or you've not done the work necessary in your content to move them into action. We find this a lot when we focus on nurturing instead of educating. Again, we're talking all about that next week so stay tuned to that episode.

But I want you to think through this. This is the work we do in the Podcast Strategy Intensive. I go through and I do a full audit and this is what I'm looking for. Is your show currently built to convert? When I get people signed up, when people book their strategy intensives, when I ask them to send me episodes, I ask for specific kinds of episodes.

One of those is “I want you to send me your best sales asset. I don't care how old it is. I don't care if it sells or doesn't sell, the thing you want to sell in the next quarter and the thing we're planning. I want what you think is your crème de la crème, your best of the best.”

Almost every time, I would say probably 80% of the time, the answer to that question on the form is “I don’t have one. I can't think of one. I don't know what that would be.” I have calls to action at the end of all of my episodes, but they've not built any episodes to be conversion tools. They are nurturing to the high heavens, but they are not taking the next step to convert.

Getting more people to nurture is not going to change the effectiveness, the impact on their business. We can spend time right in our intensive going, “Cool, we need to prioritize sales assets this quarter. What are we selling? Here's how we build them.” Now we spent a whole quarter building assets so you're going to be able to use year after year because you now have conversion tools.

You can now set up retargeting ads to the people on your list who have previously clicked an interest in a program and be retargeting them with an audio sales page or a client case study episode for a program. This is how we grow the impact of our podcast with Facebook Ads.

Notice it's different than how I talked about it at the beginning, not growing your listenership but growing your podcast's impact. When we start doing that, when we start thinking about that differently, when we start thinking about the impact and growth around that impact, then we're going to see more listenership because people start sharing the ads, commenting on the ads, sharing the show.

We're attracting people who are good referrals, who are going to be good clients. That's the difference and that's where I want you to be focusing your time, your energy, and yes, your money.

Again, this is work we do inside the Podcast Strategy Intensive, head on over to uncommonlymore.com/intensive to book a conversation with me to see if it can be a good fit for where you are right now. I will see you right back here next week to talk about educating and nurturing your audience. I'm getting the soapbox out, so prepare yourself accordingly. I'll see you next week.

Thanks so much for listening to this show. Remember that content consumption does not make changes, so commit to doing something from today's episode. Maybe it's taking action on what we talked about. Maybe it's reaching out to me and learning more about Podcast Strategy Intensives or what podcast production looks like with our team. All of that is over at uncommonlymore.com.

If you haven't yet signed up for The Podcast Newsroom, I want to remind you that is a great next step. If you're not really sure what comes next, hang out over there. Get those exclusive private episodes. That's over at podcastnewsroom.com. The last favor I will ask, because social proof is endlessly important for sure, is to leave a rating and review for the show. If you go to ratethispodcast.com/more, that's the easiest way to do it. But I would love to hear what you thought of the show, what you think of the show, and if the show has been helpful for you. I can't wait to chat with you. This is just the start of the conversation. Reach out so we can keep it going. Talk soon.

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