State of the Podcast Address, 2015

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Ever since they put the Internet on computers, it’s been tough to break through the noise. In late November I started working on ways to get your articles and the show in front of more eyeballs, and it’s working. Leveraging Alan’s more than 48,000 Twitter followers, my modest 8,500 and the site’s 1,500, between the weeks of November 16th and 23rd we saw a 236% increase in traffic thanks largely to a social media plug-in that automagically shares articles based upon the frequency and date range we set. That got the attention of John C. Dvorak, who retweeted Alan’s version of the podcast Delete My Browser History and led to a 306% increase in traffic and gave us our best single day ever at 2,662 views.

So why the big drop-off?

You can’t be all things to all people. Stake your ground. That’s what we do. Who cares if you piss off some people?
The social media campaign led to complaints — 12 — from Alan’s followers upset with the repeat nature of the tweets. In the subsequent weeks, I’ve began tweaking the frequency and date range from every 30 minutes to every 3 hours and from 3 day no-repeat to 1 week and the visitors to G&B Dotcom plummeted. Alan and I had a talk about the fact that complainers made up 0.00025% of his total followers and are those who follow few accounts and are probably are on Twitter all day.

Let the whiners un-follow: it was Alan’s decision to return to the 30 minute/3 day rotation.

I had a conversation with the man who got Justin Trudeau elected Prime Minister (yes, I’m kind of a big deal). He’s a big fan of the show and he told me point-blank that he’d do the same thing because in a wide market (be it a country or Twitter) “You can’t be all things to all people. Stake your ground. That’s what we do.” He added, “Who cares if you piss off some people?”

But I haven’t yet reverted the settings to that 30/3 plan for two reasons.

First, to avoid G&B taking over Alan’s Twitter feed, I want to install the same plugin on his website so his articles are automagically tweeted, too. That should improve the mix of content flooding out of his feed. While we shouldn’t care if (literally) 0.0003% of his audience is upset, there are things that can be done to address the concerns about repeats and get his A Journal of Musical Things content in front of more eyeballs, too.

Second, G&B dotcom needs more content. We’re at the time of year when real world obligations take up more of our time and that’s completely understandable. Hell, I’m on podcast hiatus until the new year myself just to decompress.

What should we be writing about in 2016?

articles

streamingThe Definitive Guide to Streaming Music Services in Canada is, by far, our most popular article of 2015. We have Google to thank for the 16,430 views over the last 12 months. When you type “Streaming Music in Canada” into Google, we beat Apple in the listings at #1 of more than 47 MILLION hits:

After that, articles which resonate with our geek hearts are most popular, proving that we should be writing about what inspires us.

It also shows link-bait style headlines work: The Top 10 Ontario By-laws You Had No Clue you Were Breaking (5,040 views), Mario Has Been Hiding A Super Awesome Cheat For Nearly Thirty Years (3,488 views), and Secrets of Famous Album Covers (1,493 views) all top the charts. Even when you factor-out the fact many of these articles have lived on the site for much of the year, the new social media campaign revealed old news which doesn’t have updates such as Carly Simon reveals who’s So Vain and it’s exactly who you thought it was was wildly popular long after the news was revealed. Complaints about repeat articles were about stories which had subsequent updates (like Scott Weiland, Dead at 48 and Praying For Bad Brains’ Dr. Know).

What doesn’t get attention?

Articles with uninformative headlines simply don’t work. You need to educate the reader even if they don’t click on the link. That’s why Carly Simon reveals who’s So Vain and it’s exactly who you thought it was works: we’re basically revealing it’s Warren Beatty, yet people still clicked the link 1,501 times because they wanted to learn more.

The good news is creative-yet-uniforming headlines still have a place: just move them to the article excerpt. Use the headline to get social media punch, and the excerpt as a means of expressing your cleverness while drawing in other visitors to the website to additional content.

Plans for 2016

1Compensating you for your contributions: the show really doesn’t make much money, but I’m working on ways to thank you for your hard work. Giveaways in 2015 were exclusively to Patreon supporters and the companies providing that swag get a lot of attention through our promotions. We’re going to start asking for two of everything: one for the Patreon winner, and another for you. Your thoughts on what constitutes a fair system would be appreciated.

2In January I’ll be ratcheting-up the social media auto-tweets back to 30 min/3day as you get back into the swing of writing. Link-Baity non-time sensitive articles such as Secrets of Famous Album Covers and feature pieces like We’re Not Alone: Musicians Who’ve Battled Mental Issues will benefit tremendously from featuring great content that holds up months after their initial postings.

3I’d like to expand our interviews in 2016 to include you. I believe the podcast will benefit from a greater variety of voices on the show and the website. Whether it be Skype-based or in-person interviews of musicians or nerds, I’d like to encourage you to chase as many guests that interest you in the name of Geeks & Beats. Use the show as a foot in the door. If you need personalized business cards, I’ll get them. If you need recording gear, I’ll get you that, too. You do the interview, we put you in the show with them.

4We’re going to shoot for a lot more attention. The podcast needs a greater audience. 180,000 people hear the show each month and most of that is on the radio. Google Play Music is coming in 2016 and there’s a podcast component. There are also a billion podcast aggregators to whom we should be submitting our feed.

Thank you to…

Vanessa Azzoli has been our own in-house website rockstar in 2015. While we like to goof around with correspondent titles, “Managing Editor” is no joke. Vanessa’s editing of our articles has played a big role in the success of the website. From spearheading The Definitive Holiday Gift Guide for Geeks 2015 to pop culture articles like #BlueJays Clinched It! What else happened 22 years ago? I’m really looking forward to what she does in 2016 now that the boxes are unpacked.

Shane Alexander has provided us with some of the most heart-felt articles of the year. From  We’re Not Alone: Musicians Who’ve Battled Mental Issues to #SanBernardino Shooting, Twitter Reacts, Shane has proven to be our go-to guy for thoughtful insight as well as breaking news.

Matt Smith has a knack for writing link-baity articles that deliver both eyeballs and content. Secrets of Famous Album Covers, #OneHitWonders We All Know and Love, and Thirteen Signs Dave Grohl is a Superhero all blew up on the website in 2015.

Some of the most active response on Twitter we’ve received in retweets and impressions was Amber Healy‘s A Final Farewell. She also ensures that our top stories on the podcast have matching articles on the site. #Landspeeders–Better Than Cars is my new favourite story all while acting as our Washington Bureau Chief while planning a move back to Buffalo.

Introducing Erin Lawrence at the beginning of Season 3 was the best thing that ever happened to our podcast supporters. As our Gadget Ninja, she’s made it possible for us to give away more stuff on the big show than I’ve been able to do in the previous two seasons combined! Plus, she’s keeping Alan on his toes, and that’s always a good thing.

To balance Alan’s Star Trek obsession, Derek Dresser stepped up for the Star Wars fan late in 2015. Under the guidance of our Managing Editor and the reboot of the franchise this year, I can’t wait to see what Derek brings us next year.

Busy lives have kept Patrick Charles,  Jason Tollman, Steve FeekAlyssa ClarksonPeter Christensen, , Lanessa Tremblett and Brent Chittenden from greater participation this year than I had hoped, but I’ve got my fingers crossed that 2016 will be the year you guys return to the big show. With the enhanced social media promotion and the SEO on G&B dotcom, I hope you’ll be reinvigorated to get back in the G&B saddle.

Please let me know what you need from me to make your G&B participation easier, better, and more frequent.

On behalf of Alan and Sting, thanks again for a great 2015, and all the best for the new year!

– Michael
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4 Comments

  • Interactive sounds great. Myself , I got tired hearing about Apple so when it came up on your show l changed stations. Rather hear about electrics car and the new technology coming

  • Tired of hearing about Apple. Don ‘t care about it. Talk about the new not the old. Cable cutters and digital antenna, electric cars car, driverless tech is Stratford test zone, Blackberry reinventing themselves. Times and product change, change the content to match. Look at the creation of the internet, it was designed to use hydro lines ;