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The Not So Sad World Of Podcast Follower Remorse
Episode 7426th January 2022 • Podcast Pontifications • Evo Terra
00:00:00 00:11:47

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Your podcast is followed by lots of people who don't listen.

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So is mine.

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So is everyone's.

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Is that a problem to be solved?

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Or just a reflection of the complex relationship people

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have with on-demand content?

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Hello, and welcome to another Podcast Pontifications with me, Evo Terra.

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I wonder how many of your subscribers or followers you have for a

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podcast that have buyer's remorse?

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Or, in this world, followers remorse?

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And, of course, by your followers and subscribers, I mean, my

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followers and subscribers as well.

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In case my meaning isn't clear, I'm talking about someone who took the time

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to add your podcast to their listening app and now they kind of wish they hadn't.

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For whatever reason, it's no longer for them.

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Here's what you and I would do in that situation - if a show in our

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subscription or follow list was no longer for us, we'd unsubscribe

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or unfollow that show with haste.

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Or would we?

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If I just described what you do every single time, then kudos to you.

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But that's not most people's behavior.

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Most people, especially people who are more casual podcasting

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listeners, tend not to unsubscribe.

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I know, anathema, right?

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But you probably don't unsubscribe or unfollow as often as you think

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you do, even for shows that don't pan out the way you had hoped.

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My problem here is this is thinking about a problem in a binary way and you

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know how much I despise binary thinking.

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See, we think that people either subscribe or follow because they want to listen

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and then when they don't want to listen they unfollow, they unsubscribe, right?

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But the data we can all see, comparing our download numbers to the listen

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metrics from the apps, clearly demonstrate that thinking is wrong.

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Reality oftentimes is it's more complicated.

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Human behavior, as it turns out, is rather messy.

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We podcasters need to embrace the reality of the middle listener.

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Or the middle follower or subscriber I should technically say since

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it's not a listening issue here because this middle person only

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listens to some of our episodes.

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Now, a quick caveat here, creators of serial content, fiction podcasts,

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docu-series, or other multi-part contiguous content see very different

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behavior than what I'm describing.

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They're not immune from this, it's just different.

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This middle person actually represents a lot of different behaviors.

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Some of the people who are middle listeners had every intention of

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listening to every episode that you put out, but they just don't.

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Perhaps they started out eagerly consuming your content, but then

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stopped for whatever reason.

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Maybe they got everything they needed from you and your podcast with a couple

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of episodes and just left it there.

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Maybe their interest in your content or the topic that your

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podcast covers waned eventually.

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Maybe they discovered and prioritized a different podcast

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or a different set of podcasts.

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Maybe they're very good at triaging their podcast listening app,

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deliberately choosing which episodes to listen to with their own decision

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tree and sorting methodologies.

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Maybe they subscribe or follow in a show of solidarity or in support of that

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show, either with you or with others who have your show in their lives.

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Maybe that was important for them to have that badge that I'm a subscriber.

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But I'm not really a listener.

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Or maybe they just view your feed updates as transactional and

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they're happy just knowing that you're still producing content.

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That's good enough because maybe someday they'll listen.

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And finally, it's not that easy to unsubscribe or unfollow a

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podcast, at least not while you're actively listening to that podcast.

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Here's the deal, if I subscribe or perhaps someone subscribes me to an

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email list that I don't really want to be in, there's an unsubscribe

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button right there in the email.

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Where is that in podcasting?

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We don't have it, not at the episode level.

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There is no easy way to bounce back up to the show level because there's not

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some obvious unsubscribe button, at least not like the ones mandated by various

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trade commissions that are for email.

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Sometimes, yeah, it is a simple swipe to delete, but oftentimes, listeners

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have to go into the configuration or to the settings of their program,

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their app to actually do the work.

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That's not very easy, is it?

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So do we really care about these middle followers, if you will, who don't

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want to, or at least don't want to go through the hassle to unsubscribe

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or unfollow, but they also don't want to listen to every single episode?

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Should we try to clear them out to keep a cleaner feed?

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I'm not so sure there's a solid reason of why to do that.

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It costs them virtually nothing to keep updated about your new episodes.

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Perhaps you're even sending them episodes they don't listen to and

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that's okay because you never know why they don't listen and they might

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actually start listening again.

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Should we try to convert as many of these middle followers to dedicated

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listeners as we possibly can?

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Well, yeah, of course, but that's something that's probably not very much

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in our control because we don't know why someone became a middle follower.

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We don't know what to change to make them into a dedicated listener.

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We just don't know.

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But that also doesn't mean we should stop trying.

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I'll have more thoughts on this concept of middle followers as the season progresses.

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But for now, I shall be back tomorrow with yet another Podcast Pontifications.

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Cheers!

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Podcast Pontifications is written and narrated by Evo Terra.

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He's on a mission to make podcasting better.

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Links to everything mentioned in today's episode are in the notes

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section of your podcast listening app.

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A written-to-be-read article based on today's episode is available at

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podcastpontifications.com where you'll also find a video version and a corrected

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transcript, both created by Allie Press.

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Podcast Pontifications is a production of Simpler Media.