Podcast Stats and How to Use Them

What are podcast stats, anyway?  How can they help you as a podcaster?

Since you are a publisher and programmer and all-around genius running your own show, you’re looking to get more downloads, more shares and make more friends.  But how?  Take a look at this list of our most downloaded episodes this month on Future of Food.

Making Jackson Grow In Winter is our newest episode, and so it follows that more people are listening to it than the others. I’ve noticed, however, that truly popular episodes do not peak out fast. They last. Food Activism In the Digital Age with Anna Lappé was posted late last year but has remained in the top five most popular of our shows.  Saving the Future One Seed at a Time with Jere Gettle was recorded even before the Food Activism podcast, and it has held strong.

Podcasting Lessons Learned

Here’s what I’ve learned from looking at lists of my popular podcasts. Sometimes, the topic simply appeals to people, and you may have helped that along by creating a good title for the show. At other times, the guest you book is already popular, and when they share the podcast on their social media channels, it brings you more viewers.  Anna Lappé is a published author; Nona Yehia has an active social network and is prominent in her community; Jere Gettle runs a popular seed company with a big presence on Instagram and social media.  They all enjoyed being guests on the Future of Food Podcast, so they talked about it.

Here’s another example. Sarah Fader is an important voice when it comes to talking about anxiety.  When our client Melissa A. Woods appeared on Sarah Fader’s podcast, it boosted both Sarah’s and Melissa’s social media activity and responses. Dr. John Duffy is another important voice in speaking about anxiety, and when Melissa appeared on his show Undue Anxiety, it again boosted everyone’s social media response.

“Name brand” people and movements can help you, and so can catching a trend. One of the most popular podcast episodes I’ve ever recorded was with Rob Jacobs of UnSit, a company that markets under the desk treadmills.  The podcast was recorded while both Rob and I were walking on treadmills, so it had novelty value, but it also caught the wave of a growing movement to walk, to be healthy at work, and to work at a standing desk (like I am now).

You can certainly get a quick hit when you book a name brand person or even a celebrity on your podcast, but over the long term, studying your podcasts which get the most plays over time will answer this question:  Why is a particular episode popular? You can learn more from studying one of your shows that came out of nowhere to achieve popularity than you can from that time you booked a show with Beyoncé. In the Beyoncé case, you already know why that show was popular. But the learning happens when you have to dig in. Stats can help.

Check Your Stats

Platforms like Podbean and SoundCloud (two that we use when we produce podcasts at Red Cup) and Libsyn and Blubrry, offer detailed stats. You can see whether your listeners are on mobile or desktop and where in the world they are. If you have a microsite for your podcast, like we do at Future of Food, you can use Google Analytics or Clicky to learn even more, seeing where your listeners were coming from before they landed on your page. This lets you know whether all those posts you are peppering on Facebook are having a good effect, or whether you should stick to announcing your podcasts in your email newsletter.

It always makes sense to syndicate your podcast out to popular platforms like iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn, Google Play, and Spotify.  Give listeners a chance to discover you in many ways. You can jump around on all those platforms and try to tally up your stats, but that’s challenging. (iTunes has promised stats to podcast publishers, but I haven’t seen them yet as I write this.)  I find it’s better, and maybe less distracting, to choose a home base for your show, whether that is a platform that you don’t control, like Podbean or SoundCloud, or one that you do, like a microsite.

When you’re caught up in the flurry of production it’s hard to take a breath, and step back. But it’s worth it to check your stats.  The knowledge they bring will bring you more success.



Also published on Medium.