It’s safe to say that Twitter changed the game. After they tore onto the scene in the early 2000s, they changed the way not only people communicate but how brands talk with their customers. The early corporate adopters of Twitter who didn’t adjust their marketing strategy for the 140 character count generally failed. What they didn’t understand is that Twitter wasn’t just another marketing channel, it wasn’t built for blog post-style content- it was built for human connection and authenticity. Brands who embraced this reaped the benefits of the new social media platform.
In the Season 2 opener of The Casted Podcast, we talk with Joe Wadlington, Global Creative Lead at Twitter and host of their podcast Character Count, to learn about Twitter’s beginnings, 140 character concept, experimental marketing content… oh and also their podcast.
Digging into Key Takeaways
In each episode, we like to highlight the key takeaways from each show. Think of it as a podcast outline or live show notes. Here are just a few of the takeaways that really stood out to us in Joe’s episode.
A case study in experimental marketing🔬
Twitter realized that by not having a podcast, they were not only missing out on the market but missing out on the opportunity to be the only podcast addressing Twitter strategy. Even a big brand like Twitter had such an untapped opportunity in not having a podcast! Take some advice from a multi-billion dollar company and look into starting one for your brand…
Getting a sticky podcast audience👥
Podcasts have the ability to create a more intimate experience with the listener because you get to be a part of their day to day life. Getting the attention of your audience through podcasting in this way can do wonders for growing your brand.
That new podcast smell👃
You only get one chance for a first impression. Plan out your podcast launch in order to take advantage of your new product. People love the hype around a new product, so take advantage. You have a chance to reach a whole spectrum of people while first launching your show, so plan accordingly!
Adjust to how people are consuming your content🎼
Check frequently on how people are engaging with your content. Figure out when your audience is listening to your shows and for how long. Diving into these metrics should give color to which parts of the program listeners enjoy and which parts they’re less jazzed about – so you can change things up if need be.
Interested in more from Joe Wadlington?
To hear some of Twitter’s podcast, Character Count, check out their episode below about FinTech and B2B marketing!
Interested in skimming through the entire episode? Access the full transcript below.
LINDSAY TJEPKEMA: Tweet. Just one word and you know exactly who I’m talking about, Twitter. Twitter busted onto the scene as a new social media platform in 2006 and has changed the way brands everywhere can access the market and their audience. The launch of Twitter itself was like a much needed marketing experiment that forced brands to be more human. Brands that embrace that conversational tone of Twitter soared. Yep, I see you Wendy’s. While other brands that use Twitter as another mouthpiece fared less favorably. Dare I say that Twitter allowed or maybe forced brands to be more authentic in their communication. I’m Lindsay Tjepkema CEO and co- founder of Casted, the first and only marketing platform built for branded podcasts. In this the season two premiere of the Casted Podcast, I have had the pleasure of talking with Joe Wadlington, Global Creative Lead at Twitter and creator and host of the Twitter podcast Character Count. In our interview, Joe lets us in on the worst kept secret at Twitter. They’re all about authenticity and taking an experimental approach to marketing. You and I know where we stand on that, right? All about experiences and authenticity. So safe to say that Twitter is pretty good in my book. Given their stance on experiments and authenticity, it should be no surprise that their first branded podcast was born out of an experimental marketing project. Joe gives us behind the scenes look at how Character Count was born out of a quarterly experimental marketing project. He also gave us an eyeopening look at what planning, managing, activating, and measuring for each episode of Character Count looks like. In honor of Joe and Twitter, let’s sum up this episode in 40 characters. Ready? Hear how Twitter’s podcast came to be and, and that’s an ampersand, how they keep it authentic by interviewing the people behind the most successful Twitter accounts.
JOE WADLINGTON: Hi, my name is Joe Wadlington. I am the Global Creative Lead at Twitter. I work on the Twitter Business team and we help businesses succeed on Twitter. And our podcast is called Character Count.
LINDSAY TJEPKEMA: The name of that podcast. Can I just put that out there? Character Count.
JOE WADLINGTON: Yeah, thank you.
LINDSAY TJEPKEMA: That’s awesome.
JOE WADLINGTON: It took a while to figure that one out, but I really like it as well. And I’m the Global Creative Lead at Twitter, but I started as a copywriter five years ago and my degree is in writing. So I am the editor- in- chief of my team. So I’m constantly thinking about what is the character count of the tweet? What is the character count? What character count are we at? So it was one of those things where it’s just it’s so obvious I almost didn’t want to use it. And then we thought,”No, this is brilliant.”
LINDSAY TJEPKEMA: I love it, I love it. And so when it did come to mind, was it like,” Oh, that’s it” or did it sit on the list for a really long time?
JOE WADLINGTON: So I just asked friends and I posted it and said like,” What would be the name of a marketing podcast coming from Twitter?” And then one of my friends said that and it was kind of on my list. And then having someone else say it and I’m sure you know that sometimes that’s just how brainstorming works. Sometimes it’s your own idea, but you need it in a different format to be tricked into it and then I put it at the top of the list as soon as I read it in someone else’s writing.
LINDSAY TJEPKEMA: I love it. I think it’s great. Well, you have my vote. If you had asked me when you started it, I would’ve told you to go for it. So I’m glad you did. I’m glad you did. So, okay. So that said, so we heard about the name, but let’s go back a little bit further from there. How did the podcast come together? When did Twitter decided needed a podcast?
JOE WADLINGTON: So the story of Character Count is a case study in experimental marketing. One of my favorite things about working on my team at Twitter is that every quarter we have at least one experimental project going. So that means we have one thing that we do not worry about measuring it. We don’t worry about where it’s going to go. There are too many good marketing ideas that have been killed because someone said,” How do we measure this or who else is doing it?” That one kills me. When you go to your marketing team and you say,” We need to do something new. We need to do something fresh.” And then they come back with ideas that are new and fresh and then you say,” Okay, but who else is doing this?” You can’t have both. So every quarter we let ourselves have an experimental project that we are not worried about measuring it. We have this small amount of budget that is set aside for exactly that. So we were thinking about what our new experimental project was going to be and a podcast came to mind because we’re in this age where every brand is starting a podcast, they’re very hot right now. So that was of course, top of mind. And then we realized I did a little research and we saw that… Of course, we advertise on Twitter. We advertise through Google. We advertise on LinkedIn, we do a lot of email marketing. And in each of those places, all of our peer networks are also advertising. I looked into podcasts and I realized that not only were there no Twitter podcasts, they weren’t even podcasts that people talking about Twitter. So there’ll be a few where some social media folks like Social Media Examiner would you one episode or like TechCrunch would do an episode on Jack or we’d have these kinds of blitz, but there was no consistent Twitter podcasts. And none of our peers were there either. So we realized it was a total blue ocean. We could go there and have no competition and really do something kind of fresh and new. And we couldn’t believe that Twitter wasn’t being talked about in the podcast sphere in a meaningful way yet. So that set it and then we decided to go full in. And then it took us eight months from the inception to having a live trailer episode, and then our first four episodes were all already recorded and ready to go. The month before we launched, Facebook launched their podcast. The month after we launched, MailChimp and LinkedIn launched their podcasts. It was really wonderful because we got to come up with this idea organically and authentically behind closed doors. And if we had waited until someone else was doing it, the show that we would have created would have been a reaction to the other shows that were out there. And now if you listen to our podcast and then anyone that you would consider a peer of Twitter, we have completely different shows. They’re just entirely different formats and they’re all coming from the business teams of those companies. And so I’m so pleased that we all got to kind of do it separately when no one else’s was out yet, because now we have these independent shows that are not in competition. They’re all just really great takes on authentically what that company is like.
LINDSAY TJEPKEMA: I love that, I love that because it’s interesting. I’ve heard both sides of the story about reasons not to do a podcast or anything really, which is one is, let’s wait and see who else does it first? What is everyone else doing? To your point. And then there’s also like,” Well, no one else is doing it. Why would we do this [inaudible 00:07:19]? It’s like,” Okay, maybe just do it.” And everyone can and does use Twitter, who is your intended audience or the show?
JOE WADLINGTON: Yeah. I think that with the experimental marketing practices, you have to just do it and we’re Twitter. That’s what news breaks on Twitter. Nothing moves faster than Twitter. It’s the fastest, most early adopter bot on the internet. So if we’re afraid to do something first, then we’re kind of losing the beat on who our people actually are. It’s very Twitter-y to just take a chance and to go out there. So I’m a big believer in every marketing team, having experimental marketing. I’m also a big believer in hating your job as little as possible. And so whenever you have an experimental project, it just makes working on it more fun. You get to give one of your employees a passion project and tell them to just go for it. And then I think as a marketer, we’re all reading each other’s marketing. We’re looking at each other’s marketing. We leave work, we see billboards and ads. It’s just being a good marketing citizen to try and make interesting and creative stuff, because it we all have to consume it. And so even if you don’t necessarily know where it’s going or who else is doing it or where it’s going to competitively lie in the landscape, just try it. Just go. It’ll make your job more fun and it makes better marketing for all of us.
LINDSAY TJEPKEMA: That’s a really good point and I think that that kind of bridging the gap between just marketing in general and loving your job and that you can tell when someone loves their job, you enjoy working with them. They create better things. They create more interesting things that other people love to consume. And that can absolutely be said for podcasting as well. I mean, if you’re enjoying what you’re doing, you can literally hear it in your voice. It’s more fun to listen to that than somebody really sounding really boring on the microphone because they’re just checking the box, right? So yeah. Tell me how this fits in to your overall strategy. Because like you said, you came in as a copywriter, right? And so kind of two questions there. How does it fit into the broader strategy and how has it kind of fit for you? What does your role look like?
JOE WADLINGTON: When we were coming up with Character Count, you always have the question of who is it for? And I’m a big why marketer, we always want to come up with who’s it for and what are we telling them? Why are we doing this thing? And then let the medium come on later. I think a lot of misguided marketing campaigns happen when people get so focused on this is, I need an image. I need a tag line. I need a video campaign. When there’s so many different ways to reach out to people and to create an emotional connection. So our who was people who are already listening to podcasts. We knew it was a huge sphere. We looked at marketing podcasts, business podcasts, technology podcasts, and those are really robust corners of the podcasting universe. So we knew our audience was already out there. And Character Count is about creativity in marketing on Twitter. So it’s pretty specific. And we honestly didn’t think that Character Count was the type of podcast that was explosive and interesting enough to convert new podcasters. If you don’t listen to podcasts already, Character Count is probably not going to get you to have a behavior change. We’re not solving murders. It’s just not spicy enough. But if you already listen to podcasts, you already listen to marketing business or technology podcasts, Character Count is one of the most interesting ones out there. So I was really focused on thinking of that is already our audience. And I was focused on a commuter audience. One thing we’ve really noticed with our materials is we want to make them as helpful as possible. And it’s a successful thing when someone says they’re a community manager, they’re an ad buyer, they’re a paid marketing person and they can take one of the materials that Twitter Business creates, take it to their boss and it makes their job easier. So we always want to give you the research you need to argue for budget. We want to give you the case studies that give you marketing inspiration. So this was the podcast we hoped people would listen to on their way to work, which determines the length. That’s why each episode is 20 to 30 minutes because I thought,” What is average commute time?” I wanted it to be commute length podcasts. And if they show up at work and they can have a meeting with their boss and they say,” I was listening to the Twitter podcast this morning and they suggested doing this on Twitter.” And that way we could validate, galvanize our listener, the people who are fighting for us at their agency, at their business with something that came from the horse’s mouth to help make their job easier and give them inspiration. So we were very focused on a commuter audience and it being that exact bite- size thing to power someone up at the beginning of their day or their lunch breaks so they can walk into a meeting confidently and get things done on our platform.
LINDSAY TJEPKEMA: I love that. I think that’s so important. And I think that’s a really, really good bit of advice, which is yes, to think about who, who is this for? Why are you doing it? And I think also for podcasts. This is one that I haven’t actually heard someone say before is when, when is this for? And obviously people will listen whenever they’re going to listen, but what’s the intended context of consuming this content and how does that impact what you put into it? I think that’s incredibly important.
JOE WADLINGTON: Absolutely. And knowing who and then also when helped inform every decision going forward. So the length of our podcasts, we decided because we wanted a commuter audience and this theme song when we were deciding that and I was working with a producer to create the theme song I thought,” What do people want to listen to in the morning?” And so it’s with every draft that we had of the theme song I listened to it first thing in the morning to see is it jarring? Is it upsetting for my [ inaudible 00:13:00]. And so I think even our theme song sounds very much like that kind of morning busyness, getting into the groove, you’re on the train, you’re in your car and you’re listening to some marketing inspiration getting ready for your day and getting excited about the new things that your team could do on Twitter.
LINDSAY TJEPKEMA: So you’ve created your show. We kind of talked about the backstory and how it came together. Let’s talk about the day- to- day at this point. So what does managing your show, what does managing Character Count look like on a day- to- day, week- to- week basis today?
JOE WADLINGTON: So how Character Count fits into our strategy is an idea of deep dive and lean back marketing is a term that I’m stealing from MailChimp. I interviewed them recently and they have a new series called MailChimp Presents that is short documentaries and podcasts, and scripted series. And their idea is that their email marketing, their Twitter marketing is lean in. They’re trying to grab people’s attention and sell things and they want to do some lean back marketing. And I think that’s very true to a trend we’re seeing in marketing now, where we want to give consumers as much content as possible for free. We give them as much education and blog posts and articles and tweets for free, so they can feel really comfortable engaging with our brand and creating an extremely loyal relationship. And so how it fit into our marketing process and the universe of marketing materials that we have is that it was something people do on the go. It’s something that people have is a laid back thing. And it’s basically audio success stories. One thing that my team has asked for the most is for success stories. People want to know concretely what have businesses done on Twitter is successful? So every Character Count episode you’re listening to, the person who did the work that was there. I didn’t want CEOs, I didn’t want folks who were just going to come in and talk about how great their business is. I wanted people who were in the room, who are going to talk about what didn’t work, the tactical decisions, why they did that, why they didn’t do this, could really answer those questions so that it would be tactical and practical as possible. You listen to an episode of Character Count, you come away with specific things you can do. So people love the success stories that we publish and the case studies. So we wanted the audio version of that to just do kind of a similar type of content, but for it to be as conversational as possible. And then how that goes into my day- to- day is for each Character Count episode, we want to hit a different vertical or a different corner of Twitter. So if you look at some of the episodes we’ve already published, we have touched gaming Twitter. We have touched FinTech and business and finance Twitter. We have touched sports Twitter. We have touched travel and retail and activists Twitter, B2B Twitter. So we’re hitting all these different corners that we know a lot of our clients lie in. And so it all starts as a curatorial decision of what vertical do we want to hit next? My team also publishes content in eight different languages and across every single time zone. We have a very global team and a very global audience base. So we’re constantly trying to make our examples as global as possible.
LINDSAY TJEPKEMA: Tell me how your process works like who’s involved, what kind of roles do you all play? What does creating and publishing your show look like?
JOE WADLINGTON: So it all starts with tweets. Marketing at Twitter lives and dies with the good tweets. Everybody’s trying to find the good tweets. So it’s most people who are in a marketing role at Twitter if you look at the back end of their Twitter, their bookmarks section is probably pretty beefy. My team sends Twitters via DM to each other all the time. We are always looking at the good tweets. We will bring a tweet up in a meeting and dissect it and try and figure out what is good or interesting or new about it. And so I have basically a repository of everyone on my team is sending me interesting marketing tweets and promoted tweets that they see all the time. It’s wonderful. And from that, I will get interested in a specific company or a campaign that they’re running and jump in to see do they have a robust ads campaign if they’ve been working? Are there other interesting things they’re doing? Effectively seeing if they have enough that they could talk about where we want to kind of raise them up is this ideal of an advertiser, right? We don’t want if they did one good promoted ad to then pull them on and realize maybe most of what they’re producing isn’t actually following our best practices. We narrow down from there and then I look into the verticals and the types of companies and industries that we haven’t talked about on Character Count next. So right now, I’m really interested in bringing on the travel brand. We haven’t done that. A fitness brand fitness Twitter and skincare Twitter are huge and we haven’t had any brands on that yet. And then also civic infrastructure. So trains, local government, those are huge on Twitter. I follow all of the best system and train systems around San Francisco and we want one of those companies to come on as well. So I go against curatorially what we have coming out. And then I think if the global perspective and so we’re also looking for non- US, a non- west coast example, San Francisco, our headquarters is on the west coast. And so we can end up falling into that San Francisco tech startup. We have a lot of that just down the street and they can be really tempting to just pull someone who’s our next door neighbor over, but we don’t want to do that because that’s not who our customers are. That’s just who our neighbors are. So we want to focus on them. Then the next step is I reach out to the salesperson or to the person directly. So we’ve gotten people through their DMs with Twitter Business. If someone works with the sales associate at Twitter, I talked to that person. We’ve met people in- person who I’ve later ended up having on Character Count. So several different avenues. And then we talked to them about what they have planned, what they have coming up. And then if all of that seems good, then I pull in our podcast production company, Pod People and ask for to get a time at a recording studio. For most of the episodes that we’ve done, I go to the city that the person is based in. Luckily, we have Twitter offices all over the world. So there’s normally another business need. There’s a reason that I need to be in that office. So I’ve recorded in Seattle, in LA, in New York, in London. And then we schedule time with myself and the interviewee and then we go in and we record it. We record for about two or three hours and then cut it down to a good juicy 20 and 30 minutes.
LINDSAY TJEPKEMA: I like that. That’s also something that doesn’t happen very much these days is actually editing the content to be what you want it to be and to be what your listeners want to hear. Right?
JOE WADLINGTON: Yeah. Figuring out Character Count, we knew we wanted it to be as high- quality audio is possible because again, with our audience, we thought that there are people who already listen to a lot of podcasts if they’re listening to ours. And we know that the heavy podcast listener can also get really picky about exploding peas or the air conditioner in the background and things like that. So we wanted it to be really polished and with a company like Twitter, all of the other marketing that they do is really polished. So they’re expecting a high bar from us. So that’s why we pulled in a podcast production company, Pod People, is who we work with and they are incredible. I’m an expert on Twitter, on Twitter marketing, curatorially how we want to sound. I can do the program, the production of a show and a great narrative arc. I can do all of those things, but I can’t do audio engineering and relationships with recording studios and booking those types of things. So that’s exactly where the baton pass happens with Pod People. And they’re wonderful in letting me have a lot of room and run the ground in terms of narratively how we sound and what we want to present, because they know that I’m good at that. And then they take over in terms of mastering our tracks, doing studio to studio recordings. We wanted to record with a company in London and I just told that to Pod People and they already have relationships with studios in London. So we just all had to do was show up and have my notes ready and get to focus on the interview and focus on the narrative and that’s really important.
LINDSAY TJEPKEMA: So all that to say, when you look back at all of that and when all of this was coming together, what is something that really worked well that you would share with listeners? Like something you came away with and learned that you think other people should know from your experience?
JOE WADLINGTON: Something that went really well with Character Count is how sticky the podcast audience is. So I have this suspicion from the beginning of us deciding to do a podcast and that podcasting is so intimate when you can hear people in your ears and you’re often listening to podcasts when you’re washing the dishes or when you’re doing something else, you’re in your home. It’s a much more intimate experience than I get when I’m reading a white paper, looking at a case study, anything like that. You really take podcasts along with you and the life that you’re already living. You don’t disrupt what you’re doing to listen to a podcast. And we saw that in our data as well where people really stuck with it. We have a great listener rate where people will really finish the entire episode or they’ll at least finish the main interview that we have with an advertiser talking about the creative things that they do on Twitter. And so that was really incredible because our website view rate is pretty good. The amount of time that people spend on our blog articles and on our webpages and how far they scroll down. Of course, we measure all of that, but you’re talking like 30 seconds or a minute being really incredible. Most people are just spending a few seconds or fractions of a second on a webpage. So when you have someone listening to your podcast episode for 20 minutes, 30 minutes, that’s incredible. And then we couldn’t scale having an ad specialist talk to someone for 30 minutes about creative uses of Twitter for business and how Twitter can be an exciting place for a business to try new things, tens of thousands. So when we get thousands of people listening to our episodes for 20 minutes, 30 minutes, that just doesn’t happen with any other media.
LINDSAY TJEPKEMA: Yeah, no absolutely. And I think even to your point, I mean, we’re getting less and less and less time with our audience with other mediums and podcasting holds true even if it’s 15 minutes, a 15- minute episode, or there’s some that are getting to be really long. If the content is right and it’s suitable for the brand and what you’re trying to do, they really want to be listening for an hour or two. And so it’s incredible that it’s operating on a whole different plane when it comes to podcasts.
JOE WADLINGTON: Yeah. Folks attention has never been more valuable and you see it with all of these services that are free. And so what they’re paying for is the attention of viewership, right? And there’s so many options. Our target audiences are folks have never had more options getting their attention on never been more valuable. And to be able to have someone’s attention for 20 or 30 minutes is just really groundbreaking.
LINDSAY TJEPKEMA: Let’s talk now about once that all comes together and once you have a show, what do you do with it? So once you have an episode created, what happens next?
JOE WADLINGTON: Once we have the episode created, the most exciting part starts when we get to plan out how we are going to launch it. So we have a lot of different entities going into these episodes. We have our handle TwitterBusiness, which we of course know is going to host it and drive the main part of the conversation. But then we have this company that we interacted with, that we interviewed and we effectively recorded an interview talking about how good they are at their job and how good they are at marketing. So they probably want you to promote it as well, including the individual who we interviewed. We’re making that person sound as smart and it’s talented as they are. So it’s probably something that they’re going to want to promote as well. That’s already three entities. And then a fourth is that Twitter is so massive. There are other areas of Twitter that we may want to tap as well. So a recent episode, republished with Dungeons& Dragons and Magic: The Gathering, we talked to Greg Tito, who’s the Senior Communications Manager for Dungeons& Dragons. And they discussed how they’re taking this legacy DIY gaming brands that is historically offline and famously like in basements and super gritty. And they’ve used Twitter to add a digital layer to their game. It was so interesting and incredible and then gaming Twitter is massive, it’s huge and super opinionated and passionate. So we have a Twitter owned and operated account called Twitter Gaming. So obviously we wanted to bring Twitter Gaming in and then one of the managers of that as well is a big Magic: The Gathering player. And so he knew the language, he knew the audience. So in coordinating this episode launch, we’re talking to Greg personally, who has his own vibrant Twitter account. We’re talking to Wizards of the Coast, the parent company of Dungeons& Dragons and Magic: The Gathering into their business. So that is five Twitter handles right there. And you add in a Twitter Gaming, which is the sixth one. And then mine is the host, so that’s seven. So we’re working with our designer who does make some animated videos because video performs extremely well on Twitter, especially the six to 10- second mark of a video. If you can add a video to a tweet, it will normally get 10 times the engagement of a tweet without a video. If you add an image, it gets six times the engagement of a tweet without an image. So we’re obviously wanting to add some rich media to these. So our designer will take the first 30 seconds of our episode and create an illustration where you’ve got the visualizer bumping so people know they should plug your headphones in. And you’re seeing the texts, the closed captioning scroll as well. Because you always want to have a sound off strategy for your videos on Twitter. There’s a lot of folks they don’t have their headphones in at the time. And so we create that-
LINDSAY TJEPKEMA: They’re listening on the train or something.
JOE WADLINGTON: Exactly. And especially for like this podcast we made about commuting and for a commuter. We wanted to be friendly to that. So we cut that video to a six- second take, a 30- second version of the video. And then we have that ready. We get some images from the company itself that have their products or for Dungeons& Dragons had this incredible art from Dungeons& Dragons and Magic: The Gathering of sorcerers and griffons. And we’ve never gotten to use that before. And we create some website cards. So website cards are a Twitter ad unit that just makes the tweet larger and more clickable. And if you are trying to get people to your website or to get them somewhere other than Twitter, a website card is what you want to start out with. It’s also the easiest ad unit if you want to start advertising on Twitter, that’s what you got to start with because they’re so straightforward. So we make these big images for website cards and we have that running. And then we talk to the comms folks at Twitter and see if there are any media or publicist opportunities that they can think of with the episode that we have coming out. So it’s emailing a lot of people kind of the week before to get all of these things ready, to share the videos that we’ve made, the images that we’ve made. And then the example tweet copy. We’ve seen that people, they always want to tweet, but some people get intimidated by that little box and they don’t know what to write. So when you give them a few examples, then it just exponentially increases how many people engage with it. The episode launches, we order donuts. We get excited. We all open up Twitter and we just watch it together. And we like and we reply. And then we send a big email to our team letting them know the episode is live and we send them links to our tweets and get a bunch of our employees excited and engaging as well.
LINDSAY TJEPKEMA: So you went through what you were talking about and you gave each step in the process, which I’m so glad you did is the importance of really wringing out that content. It’s not enough to simply publish it and then hope that people find it and love it and praise you for it and share it with others. You really do have to put in the work to get as much value out of it as possible.
JOE WADLINGTON: You do and Twitter is the place to launch things. It’s an early adopter audience we’ve seen as a final editor for our team, part of our style guide is we’re only allowed to use the word new for six months on something. And then we have to cut it because every time we use new, it performs so much better on Twitter. People are wild for new things, launches, breaking news. And so you want to plan your launch. You only get one shot to make a first impression. So we really try to think of when we’re launching a new episode, we want to be prepared. And when you make a really good launch, when you invest in that launch on Twitter, it just gives you so much momentum after that. It’s a lot harder to then come back and promote something that is no longer new, no longer fresh and get people excited. When it’s got that glossy newness, you need to use it.
LINDSAY TJEPKEMA: Yes. That new podcast smell
JOE WADLINGTON: That new podcast smell. It goes far. People on Twitter are crazy for new things.
LINDSAY TJEPKEMA: Exactly, exactly. Aren’t we all? It’s just human nature.
JOE WADLINGTON: Absolutely, absolutely. And that makes honestly for easy copywriting as well for you to say,” New episode, fresh episode. Put your headphones on. Just in, just published.” It’s also easier to promote something brand new.
LINDSAY TJEPKEMA: For sure and that’s a great tip for listeners absolutely to keep that in mind. But don’t overuse it, right? I mean, if it actually is new, call it as such. But I am interested in how, even as the anecdotal as it may be how you are measuring the impact? What does success look like? How do you know it’s going the way you want it to go?
JOE WADLINGTON: So Character Counts started as an experimental marketing project. And with my team doing one experimental marketing project every quarter, we don’t stress about measuring about that thing needing to be measured for that quarter. But then we figure out later if it’s a success and if we want to keep doing it. For the first four episodes of Character Count were the experiment, but we’re now on episode 12. So it’s no longer an experiment.
LINDSAY TJEPKEMA: It’s no longer new.
JOE WADLINGTON: No longer new, no longer an experiment. We’ve been producing Character Count for over a year now. Other Twitter podcasts have now cropped up, we’ve been covered in several news sources. Character Count is now a veteran thing. And so it’s established. So now we are measuring every single episode. We are looking at the listening length of time. We’re looking at when people drop off, we’re looking at the click- through rates that we get on Twitter. But of course, subscribes and reviews and we’re on every single platform that people can listen to a podcast on. So we’re seeing the different ways that people engage with those and the different listening behaviors. And we’ve also reformatted the shape of our shows based on the data that we’ve gotten. So we realized we had some drop off early on. I think it was like the one minute mark and so we reformatted the first one minute ever show. And we also realized that people listen through the entire interview with the advertiser. And so we’ve taken some of the chunks that we had in our back half where we talked to a Twitter internal person, and we’ve moved it up and made it effectively like a commercial break in the middle of the interview. Because we know that people want to stay on through the whole thing. So we’ve used the data and listener drop off to reformat our show.
LINDSAY TJEPKEMA: Great. Again, something that I don’t know that people always do and that they don’t always think that they have access to that kind of information, right? And depending on what kind of tools and technology you may or may not. But it’s really important to watch those metrics and understand how people are consuming your content or aren’t so that you can adjust accordingly, continue to tweak.
JOE WADLINGTON: Yeah. And our hosting platform is Simplecast. So we put our actual content onto Simplecast, and that’s also where we get our data from. Our podcast is hosted on Simplecast. It plugs into everything else. So all the listener data that we’re using to inform our future decisions curatorially and also the structure of this show come from Simplecast.
LINDSAY TJEPKEMA: If there are one or two takeaways that you want listeners to remember from your experiences behind Character Count, what would they be? What else would you share?
JOE WADLINGTON: Two takeaways that I learned from the process of launching and iterating on Character Count are that it’s important to take marketing risks and it’s important to experiment. And maybe even the term risk scares people a little bit too much. But to be able to do passion projects and to do things that may not be immediately clear how it goes toward the bottom line. I think they’re worth the time that a marketing team puts into them, both for the professional development of the people that are on that team and for being good marketing citizens and creating marketing that is interesting and that is lively. And we’re all consuming ads all the time and we’re all looking at what each other are doing and putting out there. And so sometimes you may not want to do a marketing thing because you haven’t seen any of your peers do it. But then as soon as you do that, more companies are going to start doing the same thing and they will chase you to that new ground. Because there’s another marketer in a different building who is so excited that you put that out there so that they can finally show their boss and do that thing. So I think experimenting is worth a business’s time and you don’t always need to know why something is being done or what the end goal is. You can measure things after they’ve been done. And sometimes my team makes an experiment every single quarter and the worst ones we’ve done still performed like medium. We haven’t had a single flop. We’re too good a marketers to have a flop. You have to trust yourself in that. And even if something doesn’t perform well, that is such valuable information knowing that your audience didn’t like something or didn’t respond well to it, or the time of day was off, the medium was off, the launch was off. Having those lessons of what doesn’t work is just as helpful. And my second tip after Character Count would be invest in people over technology. We’ve seen again and again when we have an interesting advertiser story and there’s an interesting company, and it seems like it would be a great story for a Character Count. And what always seals the deal is meeting the person behind the account. And if that person is lively and interesting and exciting and smart and cares about their job, it’s going to be a good episode. And so it’s not necessarily just about being a marketing team at a really cool tech company. It’s not just about jumping into podcasts because they’re trendy and a lot of businesses are doing them and some of them are doing them well. It’s that we have found like a really good group of people that are kind and are smart and therefore good content is going to come from that.
LINDSAY TJEPKEMA: Well said. Thank you so much for sharing.
JOE WADLINGTON: Of course, I love talking about Character Count. It’s a passion project of mine. I hope everyone listening will subscribe to Character Count on wherever fine podcasts are downloaded. And follow @ TwitterBusiness. We make inventive marketing content every single quarter, but we also always play the hits. We’re going to give you your tried and true stuff. We make sure everything we’re publishing is helpful to our end users. So definitely follow @ TwitterBusiness on Twitter and follow me @ JoeWadlington on Twitter for tweets about Dolly Parton and my dating life.
LINDSAY TJEPKEMA: That’s it for today’s show. Thank you so much to today’s guest and to learn more about them and see Casted in action with clips of today’s show and related content, visit casted. us. Thanks so much for listening.
About Season 2 of The Casted Podcast
Welcome back to Season 2 of The Casted Podcast – the podcast where we talk about… you guessed it, podcasts! In this season, we’re talking with the voices behind the mic (your podcast showrunners and producers) to get their perspective on why podcasting is such a crucial part of their own strategies and all the behind-the-mic magic that happens to keep your favorite shows up and running.
Hear more from The Casted Podcast: