Dear Podcast Listening Citizen!
The following is a dirty secret podcasters don’t want you to know.
There are a lot of podcasts out there claiming to be killing it with hundreds of thousands to millions of downloads a month. I’m here to tell you, they are probably lying to you. The reason they are getting these downloads are because they are using twitter as a scam tactic to get people to click a link. It looks as if the tweet is an article about something with a catchy title and a bunch of hash tags. The person clicking the link is unaware they are getting an audio file right off the bat; which is logged as a download for them.
It gets worse…
Ever wonder why or how your favorite podcaster may claim to have 100,000 or more downloads a month, yet only has a few thousand followers on twitter? How could this be? Well they are using a tactic called Twitter Bombing. This is a tactic used by many “popular” podcasters to generate these clicks on links that I talked about above. Instead of just posting about episodes to one twitter account they are creating dummy accounts with a ton of tweets strung together with plenty of hash tags (like #inspire). These accounts are tweeting every few minutes to stay at the top of hash tag searches in Twitter. Basically the same as spam email, and who loves spam email?
A large sum of downloads coming from this tactic of Twitter Bombing are likely online bots clicking the link to find places to spam. And yet, still counted as a download. This can inflate their download numbers immensely when you start multiplying how often they are tweeting the same episode over and over. The rest of downloads are more than likely people leaving once they clicked the link and realize it wasn’t what they expected.
Why is this bad?
As podcasting continues to grow as an acceptable format by the masses, these download numbers can make people sound like they are bigger than they really are. Which can generate more buzz than the podcast is really worth. You know it sounds pretty impressive that podcast that gets a million downloads a month; I have to check that out!
The other reason is advertising. As podcasting gets bigger and more popular, advertising is looking for solid shows to promote their products and services on. Well if you say you have a million downloads a month, and yet they get little to no ROI (return on investment) on their advertising dollar, they won’t be reinvesting for long.
The other side of this advertising problem is the fact that as these small podcasting companies get bigger (Gimlet Media, PodcastOne, Radiotopia) they are going to have the ear of big time advertisers. Very quickly anyone who doesn’t put out content through these big companies (like NBC, ABC, CBS) will basically be considered “pirate radio”.
I don’t want to see this happen. There are good podcasters out there, that aren’t using slimy tactics to get download numbers to make their penises (boobs?) feel bigger.
This form of spamming just clogs twitter up the same way inboxes (spam boxes) get jammed full of crap email you don’t actually want.
And just a thought…
(An unfounded thought) What if, to add to the issue of bots clicking direct links, if some podcasters were deploying bots to intentionally click their twitter links to drive downloads up. (Seriously, I have zero proof of this! But what’s to stop someone?)
Why am I mad?
I have never spammed from my account (@DreamersPodcast) or separate accounts, and I never will. Another important thing that I will never do is direct links to my podcast episodes. This scumbag tactic reminds me of the telemarketing scams out there.
So I had wondered for a while why one episode had thousands more downloads than any other episode. What I couldn’t figure out was why there were so many downloads in the first place, and secondly why such a high percentage (90%) of those downloads were coming up as Unknown/Anonymous for information like what web browser/client/operating system they were being downloaded with. Well today I got my answer: Twitter Bombing.
Someone has been twitter bombing a previous episode of my show Dreamers Podcast by sharing the direct download link. I am furious, and I believe that everyone should know about this tactic that others are profiting from. How dare someone taint my download numbers with their fake downloads and scumbag marketing tactics.
I feel as dedicated followers of podcasts, that you should know the truth.
You can view my download stats (that I am very proud of) here: http://HowToDream.co/stats
Where’s the beef?
You can see pictures of the stats from the episode below:
As you can see majority of the users are either coming from Unknown, Windows, or Empty User Agent. According to my sources the Unknowns (60%) are most likely bots crawling the Internet looking for somewhere to spam. When they bots click the direct link to an audio file they are being counted as a download.
The 30% of Windows users are more than likely someone clicking the link that doesn’t mean to listen to your episode and most likely clicked the back button as soon as it started playing.
This is further proven with the clients picture above. Most listeners of podcast downloads will come from (80% or higher) iTunes and Apple Products. You can see that this is not the case with this episode above.
Finally, you can see that the data is shown to be widely anonymous with only 284 downloads coming from Pod catchers (which is where you would want and expect most of your downloads to come from).
This article has been brought to you by the letter S for SCAM (or S for scumbag)
The people you think are authority figures; because they get hundreds of thousands, or even millions of downloads a month are (probably) doing this marketing tactic. In my book… That makes them scam artists. Using fake downloads to give the appearance that they are popular to gain more popularity. The worse part is when they try to scam money out of advertisers with these tactics. This is bad for the listeners, other podcasters who aren’t doing this tactic, advertisers and Twitter.
P.S. I’ve contacted bit.ly to have the link removed because of being spam. They have removed the offending link, thank you bitly!
P.S.S. Check out this episode of The Podcasters, where Phillip Swindall talks in depth about how to twitter bomb. Listen here
Thanks for reading and just because everyday needs a little saxophone in it: