Smart Recirculation: Making the Most of Older Content

3 min read

When you come out with a new episode of your podcast, it will typically get the vast majority of its total listens within the first few days of its release. But what about those older episodes that may not be as popular but still rank among your all-time favorites? Just because your show wasn’t as popular at the time of its release doesn’t mean it’s not worthy of being heard.

Fortunately, you can prevent your old content from fading into oblivion. Take a look at some of the methods we’ve used to great effect in the past:

Keep an Eye on the News

Perhaps the best way to bring attention to a beloved older episode is to look for relevant connections to what’s happening in the world. If you recorded an episode about baseball, give it a social-media boost on Opening Day. If one of your interview subjects just released an article, book, or movie that’s catching the public’s attention, don’t be afraid to ride that wave.

Shout it Out in a New Episode

If your new episodes have a loyal following, try directing your listeners to listen to a specific older episode on the show itself. Maybe the topic of the new episode is related to the older one, creating the opportunity for a seamless shout-out to your listeners. You’ll find as a podcaster that you’ll get many opportunities to reminisce about past episodes, so don’t shy away from doing that on the air.

Air a Repeat

Sometimes, life gets in the way of your regular release schedule. Family obligations, illnesses, and homework-eating dogs throw us all for a loop every now and then. But instead of releasing nothing for a week (or two weeks, a month, etc.), consider re-uploading one of your favorite older episodes instead. A fair warning: this could disappoint some of your fans when they see a “new” episode appear in their feeds, but the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.

Airing a repeat gives your newer fans the chance to discover an older episode, and you get to handpick whichever one you want! It’s enough to make you want to take a week off and hop on a plane for some tropical relaxation. You can get even more creative with reruns if you want. In August 2017, tech podcast Reply All took the month of August off from airing new episodes, instead airing fan-favorite episodes voted on by listeners themselves.

Make a List of Evergreen Content

Some episodes recycle better than others. If you recorded a live commentary of an awards show or sporting event, for example, that’s probably not an episode you want to bring your listeners back to. Instead, take an inventory of your existing content and single out the episodes you consider truly timeless. If you have a strong understanding of your content and its strengths and weaknesses, you’ll be able to come up with great reruns whenever you need them.

Throwback Thursdays

Throwback Thursdays are a weekly social-media tradition. They also provide the perfect excuse to trot out your favorite older episodes on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Throwbacks for throwbacks’ sake are okay, but this promotional tool will work much better if you manage to find a compelling reason as to why you’re throwing back to this particular episode at this particular time.

Air an Update or “Remix”

This is an especially good strategy for journalistic podcasts: If new news has broken that’s made one of your old episodes outdated, try airing the original story (or at least the relevant pieces of it) with additional commentary or interview footage. It’s always great to refresh old content while offering new content all at the same time.

Manage Your Expectations

Although refreshing old content can bring significant benefits to your podcast, the tactic probably won’t skyrocket your favorite episode into podcasting’s next Serial. Try to think of it in terms of the quality of fans you’ll gain rather than the quantity. Old podcast episodes don’t make superstars, but they do encourage fans who already like what you bring to the table to dive even deeper into your episode archives. And devoted fans are the best ones to have!