FYB 55 | The Title Trap

A trend we’re seeing especially with a lot of newbie or beginner podcasters has to do with how they format the title of their episode. It’s what we call The Title Trap that some people seem to be falling into. New podcasters are creating the titles for their first three, six, or ten episodes trying to promote their brand by having the same important words at the beginning of every title of the podcast. That’s great for branding and for SEO, too. However, if you label every episode with the same few words at the beginning, your episode is going to have that showing in podcast player apps and not your unique title. In this fast-paced world, that title has to show people what that episode is going to be about even in that truncated version or else they might just skip it. There are pros and cons to everything. What’s more important to you, is it branding or is it that unique title to make sure everyone is catching every new episode?

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The Title Trap

We wanted to talk on the show about a trend we’re seeing, especially with a lot of newbie or beginner podcasters and it has to do with how you format the title of your episode. We have talked about Episode Titles before in an earlier episode but we wanted to emphasize the reality of what we call The Title Trap that some people seem to be falling into. We think it bears a little bit of repeating and a little more of a deep dive. What we’re seeing happening, especially with new podcasters when they are creating the titles for their first three or six or ten episodes, they are trying to promote their brand. They decide that they want to have the same important words at the beginning of every title of the podcast because it supports their brand.

It’s more so even when they’re trying to do different types of episodes in a week. A lot of podcasters now are doing two episodes a week. One episode as a certain type of episode that’s in one specific niche of their general podcast topic and then the other podcasts of the week is their guest episode or a different type of episode. They want to label those episodes saying, “This is in this subtitle.” It’s a subtitle where they’re labeling it, “These are about flowers. Every episode is about flowers.” They come up with some subtitle having to do with flowers.

Let’s say it would be Flower Friday. Every Friday, they have an episode and it’s on florists, but they’ll say Flower Friday, colon or dash and then their unique title. This is great for branding. Maybe you have a special intro or outro that goes with that type of episode and that’s great because it’s branding. It needs to be that that specific niche topic, which is great for SEO, too. However, if you label every episode Flower Friday every Friday, your episode is going to have that showing in iTunes and not your unique title.

The problem with this is that on iTunes especially on the desktop version but also on the Apple podcast app on your phone, this is true of most podcast player apps, that it ends up not being able to display the entire title and it truncates it. It only shows the first dozen characters or so of the title and then it goes dot dot dot and it doesn’t show the rest. If that’s on the phone, the phone’s smaller so a lot of times the titles are truncated even more. It’s super important.

All you see is Flower Friday if you’re looking at a series of episodes and a list. Then even if you have another type of episode during the week, let’s say it’s Weddings Dress Wednesday, if you had all your episodes, you’d say you did a Wednesday Friday show, so you had a Wedding Dress Wednesday, Flower Friday, Wedding Dress Wednesday, Flower Friday repeating over and over and over again and when you look on iTunes, that’s all you would see. People that search on your podcast have no idea what each individual episode is unless they click into it to discover it.

You might have a unique guest one week that that person would be very interested in, but they would have no way of knowing just by glancing. Unfortunately, in this fast-paced world, that title has to show them what that episode is going to be about even in that truncated version or else they might just skip it. They don’t have time to click into it and read about it before they listen. We don’t recommend, and we tell people that work with us, that we’re working on their shows even when we’re developing their show from scratch with them, we warned them against this and we wanted to share that with all of you because this reaches a lot more of you than who actually work with us. It’s important that you understand. It’s your show and we tell this to our customers, too, it’s your show. You can do whatever you want. You can title every episode however you want.

FYB 55 | The Title Trap

The Title Trap: It’s your show. You can do whatever you want. You can title every episode however you want.

At the end of the day, we’re going to say, “That’s the way you want to do it, that’s the way we will do it,” but we don’t recommend it. We think you’re not going to get as much benefit out of your episode titles if you have what I would call a title prefix that’s the same every episode or every other episode or every third episode, whatever it may be. If your title prefix has remained the same at a glance, when people are searching on iTunes or on their app and they’re looking at your show and considering what episodes to listen to, if you’re not giving them a glimpse into what that episode is about in the beginning of that title, you may lose them. You may lose listeners in this place.

The other nice thing about when you have these niche topics within your podcast and you’re doing a day a week on it is you can you can shorten whatever that title is. We’ve had a lot of people do that into an acronym. They’ll do it as a bonus episode where their normal podcast is numbered normally one through whatever. When this episode comes, if we did Wedding Wednesday, it would be WW 1, WW 2 because they already have their episode numbers listed in their titles on iTunes to help with confusion. iTunes can get a little confusing depending on if it’s going from most recent to least recent. Or maybe it’s least recent to most recent because you can set that however you want. That’s a little too technical. Some people like to have their episode numbers on their titles in iTunes to help with confusion and if you’re one of those podcasters that are already doing that, a real quick easy solution to this repetitive title problem is just changing that episode number. Instead of saying, “Episode number whatever,” you say, “WW” and then the number of whatever episode that is in that series and then that lends itself to a ton of other strategies you can dive into.

We’ve done that with some of our podcasts. I’m going to mention one as an example because I know he wouldn’t mind mentioning it and that is John Livesay of The Successful Pitch. His normal episode’s title is TSP for The Successful Pitch and then the number one, two, whatever. Then he did some bonus episodes that we inserted in. For a while, he was doing multiple episodes a week and he wanted to call it bonus episode and so we just decided to call it BE: 01, 02 or whatever so we would distinguish them. That’s a simple example but that’s a good example. If you put in front of every episode, The Successful Pitch: the guest name or whatever the subject of that episode is, no one would ever see what that subject is or who that guest is on an app until they clicked into it. That’s a really good example. John Livesay, The Successful Pitch and it’s at JohnLivesay.com. You can check him out. He’s somebody who’s a very good example of a modern podcaster and how he’s titling his episodes and really using his content for his business.

Thinking about how you want to title your episodes like that and if you truly are having a strategy where you have these topics that you’re doing on this specific day every single week, you really want to put a lot of thought into how you’re going to title these and if you’re going to do an acronym like that because another podcasted who I know won’t mind being mentioned either, Scott Carson. He had this weekly show he did on Vimeo called Note Night in America. Then he turns that into an episode a week on the podcast, The Note Closer Show Podcast. Eventually, he realized those episodes were getting such traction and we labeled them NNA number whatever to help distinguish which one was which without taking up too many characters on the iTunes player.

He ended up spinning it off into its own show. It was so popular and labeling it like that made it very easy to pull those episodes out of his feed and put it in another one and let it fly on its own without having to confuse people because they were already used to the acronym and then whatever the number was. When you pull it out and put it in a new one and you show your subscribers, “I made it’s whole new one because you guys loved it so much.” They’re very keen to go click on it and subscribe to that one as well because they were already used to getting that every week. You can do a strategy like that when you put a lot of planning and thought into your episode titles and the episode structure you’re going to have in your show.

Or the theme of different shows from day-to-day over the course of a week. We see more and more podcasters adopting this strategy of introducing a different flavor, format or theme of a show and doing an additional episode each week. Then when they build up a series of at least six maybe, maybe as much as ten or twelve and then spin that off if you will. Think of it like the old sitcom model. Back in the days of the sitcom, in the ‘70s and ‘80s, you had Happy Days and then you’d have a spin-off of Joanie Loves Chachi. Somehow, there was a spin-off of Laverne & Shirley.

Let me modernize it a little bit. There was Full House and now on Netflix, they have Fuller House, a spin-off of the same show. Some people would call that a revival because it been so much time since then, but it could also be considered a spin-off. Here in the modern TV show, you’ve had Grey’s Anatomy and then you had Private Practice. That was a spin-off. There’s a new one with some fire department things spin-off of Grey’s Anatomy. This can benefit you as a podcasted and it’s similar to the title things. We’re saying to configure your podcast for not only maximum exposure but maximum engagement from people searching on iTunes. This whole idea of spinning off a series of podcasts into its own show name, we use the technical term and maybe we used it too much about another show feed. In the technical world of podcasting, that is what it is. It’s another feed. In all practical terms, what we’re talking about is another show on iTunes, on Stitcher, on Google Play and all those different platforms.

The great part about doing that is that you know you have everybody who’s subscribed to your main show and they’re going to remain subscribed to that one. We’re not suggesting you just start another show right off the bat on its own, that might be a little tougher. You have these episodes go live within your existing show and then you pull them out of that show. Move them over to be its own show, and because you can control all the descriptions of each different show or each feed, you can have all the keywords that are important across all of them that are related. You can cross reference each of those different shows in your description. What that does is when someone searches on the keyword terms that you would want your show to come up for on iTunes because those words are contained in each of your show descriptions, when people search on them, all your shows come up in the search results.

There are only so many shows that come up in search results of iTunes. You usually get about half a dozen that you see right there of actual shows. You can scroll and find others, but you get about half a dozen that show up on the page and a bunch of episodes that show up on the page. If you have two or three shows, then you dominate a third to a half of the search page results and that is very important for your marketing and your brand. That you’re showing up on all these places and they are not being served other podcast as easily. It’s all related subjects and titles. Titles of the individual shows are less important. They could be pretty much whatever you want them to be as long as all the descriptions and the keywords are the same in there that they would all show up. Then eventually though, once those additional shows are out there, they will start to get their own subscribers too. You’ll end up having people subscribing probably to all two or three or however many shows you have which is also very good.

This is why it relates to Episode Titles because your episode titles are what can dictate what these split offs can be, what these new podcast shows can be. It’s a great way to test the field for, “I’m thinking of doing a separate podcast on this similar topic, but it’s its own thing, so I want to test it out.” Do one episode every week in addition to your normal show on that topic, come up with some title for it and then label it like we were discussing with the acronym system and then that way your listeners know which episode it is, they know that it’s part of that type of episode, and then when they’re when you’re ready and you think it’s got enough traction to do its own show and you think you have enough to talk about that topic to make it its own show, you can spin it off into its own podcasts, altogether.

FYB 55 | The Title Trap

The Title Trap: Branding and marketing are the most organic fundamental that you can do to get more engagement with listeners.

Your followers will follow you because they were already used to listening to that show in your normal feed. It’s a great way to build an audience to launch a new show without having to worry about, “I’m new. What If I don’t have enough subscribers? I want to get a lot of traction in the beginning.” This can build that, but it all comes down to starting with what are you going to title it and how are you going to make sure those titles still look unique in iTunes, but at the same time you’re still branding for whatever that new show is about.

Branding and marketing are the most organic fundamental that you can do and get yourself seen and heard in more places, get more engagement with listeners. It’s all good. At the end of the day, the great thing about podcasting is you don’t have to deal with a gate keeper, like an editor of a magazine or a newspaper who’s not going to publish your article unless it meets their criteria. The great thing about podcasting is this is your show. You can do whatever you want with it. We’re just offering some friendly advice and recommendation. We see some people making I’ll just say, not the decision we would make for our own shows. It’s not a right or wrong here. It’s just degrees of good and better maybe.

It’s all about what’s important to you since it’s your show. That’s the other thing, we always like to share this type of information with our clients and say, “Here’s why we don’t recommend it, but ultimately, it’s your show, what do you want to do?” You also have to think about that. There are pros and cons to everything and this is just another one of those things that you got away. What’s more important to you? Is it that branding or is it that unique title to make sure everyone is catching every new episode? Is there a happy middle ground where you can still have your branding and still have those unique titles so that way people know it’s a new episode?

Brand integrity is very important, no question. Brand integrity does not always mean have the exact same appearance everywhere. In old school branding, yes, you want your logo to appear the same way everywhere. It needs to be there in order to get the recognition that it deserves or that you want and that makes sense. In modern marketing, in these modern mediums here of blog posts and podcasts, the old rules don’t always get you the best bang for your buck or your effort and that’s the only point we’re trying to make. We’ve probably really beat this point into the ground right now. If you have any questions or suggestions for future topics you’d like to hear, please reach out to us at the podcast FeedYourBrand.co. There’s a way to reach out to us there and everywhere on social media, you can find us @FeedYourBrand. Thanks for being here.

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