Back in April, a creator named Gael Aitor, who I interviewed for our article on how to make a video podcast without a ton of extra work, told me that he believes TikTok is the most powerful platform for podcast discovery right now. Not just for Gen Z podcasts — for all podcasts.
Gael’s show, Teenager Therapy, has racked up over a quarter of a million followers on TikTok. But it’s a show made by Gen Z creators for a Gen Z audience. It made sense for the kids, I figured. But for all of us?
According to the data, yeah. TikTok is the fastest growing social media platform ever, and according to Edison Research, the share of podcast listeners on the platform is growing just as fast. The youths are even turning to TikTok over Google for their search queries.
In other words, if you’re a creator seeking a bigger audience, you need to be there. You may be thinking “great, first you told me I had to be on YouTube, now it’s TikTok. Where does it end?!” I know, me too. But this is the reality we live in — constant, relentless change — and as creators we have to do our best to keep up with where the audiences are.
And remember: Creating content is a skill — if you’ve mastered it for one platform, you can master it for another.
Now, here’s some advice to help you (and, to be honest, me) understand what works on TikTok.
You’ve got TikToptions
If you search “podcast” on TikTok, the main thing you’ll find (besides a vast legion of men with opinions) is clips of people talking into microphones. Filming and clipping your podcast recording isn’t the only way to get your podcast on TikTok, but if it works for your show, it is the easiest way.
If you can pull engaging, fun clips from your show that tell a good story in a short time, you should probably just pop them up on TikTok. That’s one reason for the huge pull that Stay Hot: A Sports Podcast has across multiple platforms. Their 100K-follower TikTok is all quick, engaging clips from the show and one-off posts from the individual hosts.
“We want to make sure the content is quick-hitting and moves as fast as possible,” says Dom Muccilo, who manages the show’s video strategy for Blue Wire, its production company. Their producer chooses three to four pieces of shorter content from the show’s three weekly episodes, focusing on “something that creates a conflict, challenge, or stirs up some sort of emotion for your audience,” Dom says.
If you have that kind of fast-paced show with good, clippable content but you don’t have video of your hosts speaking, you can always use B-roll beneath the audio.
But if your podcast doesn’t lend itself to clips, you have other options — namely, content made exclusively for TikTok.
Talon Stradley, an associate producer for Stitcher and the one tasked with making TikTok content for the wildly popular design podcast 99% Invisible, has been experimenting with alternatives — by necessity.
“99PI can't really do clips,” he says. “In order to tell the story in that short amount of time you really have to take sections from throughout the episode and whittle it down.”
Talon is making heavily produced visual summaries of 99% Invisible episodes, which takes a lot of time and resources. But he’s also experimenting with more casual content that asks for responses from the audience in hopes of starting a conversation. “I would love it if our followers were taking us around their neighborhood, showing us things they learned from the show, or asking us questions about their own built world,” Talon says.
Poke around (very carefully) on TikTok and you’ll find lots of podcasts trying cool stuff. The podcast Night Classy gets its hosts on camera in front of relevant images to distill 90-minute episodes about historical curiosities into 90-second TikToks that reap thousands of views. The host of Espooky Tales tells abridged versions of scary stories from its episodes. The host of Swindled doesn’t even get on camera, instead posting archival footage with his own narration of famous cons and scams, including some that didn’t make it into episodes.
But you don’t even necessarily have to pull from your podcast at all to have a successful presence on TikTok. The shows She Well Read and Spooky Science Sisters are fantastic TikTok accounts in their own rights, full of memes, stitches, and duets that complement the topic of each show.
Get to know your audience
This is all to say that setting up a video set and editing down hours of footage isn’t the only way to carve out a TikTok presence for your podcast. You could literally hold up your phone and film yourself talking about the subject of a recent episode, grab some fancy captions, and send it out. Who knows, it could always get a magical boost from the TikTok gods.
But to do well on TikTok without relying on its unknowable algorithm, you need to immerse yourself in TikTok. “Spend some time on the platform.” Talon advises. “What are other podcasts/creators doing? What do you find yourself watching? Why do you stick around for a video? Why do you leave? What gets you to check out someone's profile, follow them, or click on their link? How often do they post? Is your niche on TikTok? What kind of content is doing well in that niche and how can you incorporate it?”
After that, set a goal. Decide if you’re using the platform to get more listeners, to engage with your audience, or whatever. Then decide what success looks like and tailor your content for that goal.
It’s not that different
If this all makes you a bit nervous, we’ll let Stay Hot host Blaiden Kirk reiterate what we said at the beginning.
“If you can build an audience in one space, you can likely build an audience in another with the same amount of patience and dedication,” he says. “The key to any form of content is consistency.”
Blaiden’s biggest piece of advice, though, is to just get started. “The most important thing to building anything new is the willingness to dive in head first and do what you can with what you have,” he says. “Instead of waiting for a cheat sheet or answer key.”
Appendix: Podcasts on TikTok
Want more inspiration? Here's a list of podcasts on TikTok that were mentioned in this article, plus a few that didn't make it in, but are worth checking out:
- She Well Read: A mix of clips and exclusive TikToks about the pod based on viral memes
- Swindled: Archival footage and narration about the podcast’s topic, but not necessarily from episodes
- The Basement Yard: Clips from the podcast that work well for the platform, along with one-off posts from individual hosts
- Reddit on Wiki: Clips from the podcast, which started on TikTok
- Espooky Tales: Scary stories from the podcast made brief for TikTok
- Spooky Science Sisters: Totally podcast agnostic, just good TikToks on the theme
- Disastrous History: Mix of stories from the podcast and general disaster preparedness
- Military Murder: Tales from the podcast plus general behind-the-scenes TikToks
- 3 Spooked Girls: Extra context for episodes, plus behind-the-scenes content
- Dumb Dad Podcast: Clips from the show and funny TikToks about parenting
- NightClassy: Stories from the podcast in a brief TikTok format
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