After a mere 10-month test, Meta is shutting down Facebook Podcasts (according to Bloomberg). You will no longer be able to add your podcast starting this week and the feature will be entirely shut down starting June 3.
I have a whole bunch of thoughts on this. Unfortunately, the test was so limited that most people (marketers and podcasters included) have no idea what this means.
I have a podcast (The Pubcast with Jon Loomer) and I’ve been testing Facebook Podcasts since October. While the impact has been limited due to the restricted nature of the test, I’m disappointed. I’m mostly disappointed by the enormous potential that will never be realized.
Allow me to explain what Facebook Podcasts are (soon-to-be “were”), how I used it, the results I saw, and the potential features that we’ll never see.
Explaining Facebook Podcasts
If anything is clear in the past 24 hours, it’s that there’s a deep misunderstanding of what Facebook Podcasting even was. The comments I’ve seen about it make that obvious.
Know that this wasn’t unique content that podcasters created for Facebook. There wasn’t functionality to record, edit, and publish your show. None of that was possible.
Instead, Facebook was merely a destination. You could hook up your podcast’s RSS feed to your Facebook page.
Once it was set up, there was no extra work. When a new episode was detected in my show’s RSS feed, it would be published to my page (of course, only those in the US on mobile devices might see it).
And there was a separate Podcast section of my Facebook page where episodes could be found and you could subscribe.
Facebook was one of dozens of destinations where my show was published. When a new episode went live, it would go to Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Facebook, and a whole bunch of other places. In some cases, you set up a separate account to make sure platforms get your show. In others, they pick up your show automatically when it’s detected on other platforms.
A Limited Test
It’s quite possible that you never knew this existed. It was only available in the US and on mobile devices. As a result, I understood that when a new episode was published to Facebook, a very small percentage of my audience — those in the US, currently on mobile, chosen by the algorithm — would see it.
Since the test was so limited, a robust feature set never formed.
1. The metrics were close to nothing. You might see the number of listens next to the post for your episode, but that was really it. There was no access to how long people listened, how many listeners you had in aggregate, or the number of subscribers.
2. No advertising. You couldn’t promote individual episodes with ads (though I found a workaround that I experimented with). You couldn’t build your subscribers with ads. Nothing at all was available from the paid side.
What Should You Do Next?
One of the frustrating things for me about this news is that people keep asking me what I’m going to do next. Ummmm… Be disappointed?
My reaction would be the same if Spotify shut down. There’s really not much I can “do.”
Of course, if you weren’t previously publishing your show to many different destinations, that’s something you should do. But, if you’re like me, you were already doing that. My show is everywhere. It just won’t be on Facebook now.
Impact to My Numbers
As already described, this is difficult to measure because Facebook provided close to nothing related to number of subscribers or depth of engagement. It was nothing like video engagement metrics, for example. These stats simply didn’t exist.
The only thing I do have is the number of downloads to Facebook. I get this from Libsyn, which is my podcast host. Based on these numbers, about 4-percent of my downloads in 2022 have been on Facebook.
Downloads don’t mean a whole lot in the podcasting world, of course. We care more about engaged listeners, and I have no idea what that number is.
While 4-percent doesn’t feel like much, what if you lost 4-percent of your traffic? Or revenue? Obviously, these aren’t good things.
But, honestly, I keep saying it… The loss here is less about “actual” loss and more about “what could have been.”
What Could Have Been?
The irony here is that on the day this news came out from Bloomberg, I published a podcast episode about the features Meta needs for Facebook Podcasts. Actually, go ahead and listen here (it’s short!).
I can’t help but think about the features that could have made this amazing for podcasters.
1. Campaigns Made for Facebook Podcasts.
Imagine creating a campaign with the objective of promoting your Facebook Podcast. You could optimize for more listens or more subscribers. And at that point, Facebook should know who listens and who doesn’t, which would assist the optimization process.
There could also be completely new ad formats for podcasts. You could showcase individual episodes or the show itself. It could have been amazing.
2. Targeting options.
We could have created a custom audience of those who were subscribed to our podcast. This would allow us to target those who were already listening, and maybe promote something related to what you talked about on the show.
Maybe we could have created podcast custom audiences similar to video view custom audiences. So, create audiences based on the episode someone heard or how long they listened. Or maybe even an audience for people who have listened to any episode in the past.
It could have been really interesting. But it’s not going to happen.
Why Did This Happen?
This obviously bums me out, but I realize I’m part of a very small audience who cares.
Ultimately, there could be any number of reasons that Meta abandoned podcasting. It could be that they just weren’t seeing results (but, again, Meta invested so little into this and made it available to so few, that this is a tough argument).
More likely, it’s that Meta wants to dedicate more resources toward the Metaverse and short-form video. Awesome, I guess.
I recorded my thoughts in a video as well. You can watch it below…
What do you think about this change? Does it impact you?
Let me know in the comments below!
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