How ethical are your podcast promotion, profit, promises, and pride? This is a free-flowing episode where I share my genuine thoughts on these issues, after being an “innocent accomplice” to unethical Twitter-bombing.
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4 areas of podcasting ethics
This is the big one. How ethically are you promoting your own podcast?
Twitter bombing is getting a lot of attention lately. This is when someone uses one or multiple Twitter accounts to blast the same message every few minutes to hundreds of times per hour. This artificially inflates podcast download stats because most of the “downloads” are from bots who humans who don't actually listen.
Check out these great articles and podcast episodes about Twitter bombing.
- “TWITTER BOMBING WORKED! (to stroke my ego” by Bryan Orr)
- “Twitter Bombing: What Is It – Is It Harmful – Does it Work” with Dave Jackson and Bryan Orr (host of Wow Small Business podcast)
- Rob Walch and Elsie Escobar talked about Twitter-bombing in The Feed
Are you promoting things only because you'll profit from them? Do you disclose when you're using affiliate links?
When you make a promise, keep it!
This can be difficult when other people have unreasonable expectations on you or how you do things. You don't have to stress over these if you didn't promise them.
Don't make yourself out to be bigger than you actually are. Dave Jackson has some accurate thoughts on this.
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This post may contain links to products or services with which I have an affiliate relationship and may receive compensation from your actions through such links. However, I don't let that corrupt my perspective and I don't recommend only affiliates.
Thanks for addressing this, Daniel.
I came across this last week when I clicked on a link for a podcast episode on Twitter that seemed interesting and my browser immediately started downloading a file.
As a podcaster trying to grow my audience, I knew that this would register as a download in their stats. It left a really bad taste in my mouth. So much so that I didn’t even bother listening to the file downloaded.
I loved the episode. I quit posting direct download links to my episodes, because I can see the ones I did have drastically higher download numbers. I now feel like my stats are tainted by those episodes. I now only post links to my show notes pages that have an audio player.
Another ethical area (at least in my mind) is with the audio in podcast. I am in a saturated category (Disney) and it seems like every other podcast uses audio that I am not certain they have permission to use. I caved my last episode and inserted some park audio and now I am guilt ridden. I think I am debating pulling it out.
I am having a hard time wanting to be like the other podcasts, but know that I should be myself.
It does depend on how you use the audio. Have you listened to my episode on copyrights? https://theaudacitytopodcast.com/copyrights
I will go back and re-listen. I think I consumed that episode when I was binge listening a couple of months ago. Thanks for pointing me back that way again.
I haven’t had a chance to listen to your episode yet, but have heard the subject discussed (re: Twitter-bombing). I think it would certainly be unethical to use those stats, then, to attract sponsors, advertising, or even just to promote your podcast as having those numbers. That said, I wonder how many of the people doing it even have a clue that their new found ‘success’ isn’t real?
And, I’ve noticed that rather recently (the last month or two) a bunch of big news sites have started embedding auto-play video on all their stories. I wonder if they are trying to do something similar (just not involving Twitter)? Either way, it’s SUPER annoying, as would it be for the direct link podcast. I’ve stopped visiting sites like CNN because of it.
Regarding affiliates, I certainly disclose it… though I’ve been considering the best way (footnote? link to a page explaining my policy? etc.). And, I only use affiliates for products I actually use and like and recommend. I might consider one for a product in my industry that I know is great, even though I use a competitor, but I haven’t done that yet. I’m not sure beyond that is unethical necessarily, but I do run into a lot of sites promoting things I’m pretty sure the site owner doesn’t use and are things I’d certainly not recommend. I typically guess they are just doing it for the money.
Thanks for the comment, Steve! Have you had a chance to listen, yet?
I did contact the I mentioned in the podcast. They, truly, weren’t aware of the pitfalls of Twitter-bombing. They were receptive and inspired to investigate some things further. Win for polite “confrontations”!
This was a very interesting episode concerning podcast ethics, especially Twitter-bombing from a statistics and potential sponsorship perspective. Some could make the argument they never intend to approach sponsorships with their statistics, however this doesn’t alleviate the ethical issue towards potential listeners (customers). These direct download links do not allow potential customers the opportunity to listen or download later when on wifi, costing customers their mobile data allowances or potentially overage charges.
Exactly! It’s really a loss for everyone—even the podcaster.
Thanks for addressing Twitter Bombing. I feel it is an unethical practice – especially when it triggers a direct download. The problem is the attention podcasting is getting in national media and podcasting feels like the next “get rich quick” scheme. The long term problem is the “smoke and mirrors” nature of the numbers will irritate or anger potential sponsors. We need a lot more advertisers in podcasting and if they get taken in by false numbers and no ROI we all lose!
On an interesting side note – I have tried to listen to this episode since the day it was released but get the “this episode is unavailable” message on my iPhone. I am listening via the desktop. Strange?
Thanks for the input!
What app are you using on your iPhone? Does it still not work?