“I went and met the hosts, Jon Favreau, Tommy Vietor, and John Lovett. And they asked me, you know, what do you know about politics?” said Elijah Cone, Director of Digital Content at Crooked Media. “And I said, uh, nothing. But I know I don’t like what’s going on right now, and I know how to make people who are smart about politics look good and sound good online, so I think I can help you out.”
From that moment on, Elijah Cone never looked back. Joining Crooked Media as the fifth hire, Cone oversees different aspects of its video and social products and has helped grow the company’s digital presence exponentially.
Live on the virtual #Storyteller stage, Elijah brought stories of creativity, best practices in audience engagement, and what goes into promoting some of the most successful podcast shows in the nation including Pod Save America.
How political initiatives play a role in digital strategy:
“It was a way that we could have an incentive for people to follow us outside of the podcast. There was a reason to follow us on Twitter and a reason to follow us on Instagram and Facebook, because we’d always be able to take the news events that you’re seeing on your social media and drive you to be able to do something about it, to take action.
Making sure that people weren’t just consuming news, but giving them something to do about it really helps us explain our following outside of our initial success in podcasts.”
On audience engagement tactics:
“In terms of actually engaging the audience, we came up with a tiered system, like a tiered level of engagement. The entry-level into the program is you just listened to the podcast or you interact with us on social media. The middle tier is, you sign up for the website, maybe you give money to a race. And then there’s a top tier of engagement, which we wanted to give people, which is something we called ‘adopt-a-state’. A lot of our audience is not necessarily in swing states, so we said, if you are concerned about the election and you want to get involved, here are ways that you can actually volunteer, not just give money. We had hundreds of thousands of people sign up.”
Something that will be replicated in the future approach to content:
“You’re not just a passive listener, you’re not just a passive consumer of all of this content. These are things that you care about, and you don’t have to just sit at home and be mad. We are not only going to inform you, we are going to give you the tools and the tiers to get involved.”
On how some of Crooked Media’s most unique productions came to life:
“When we didn’t have rights for an event, we got weird and creative. It’s one of the things you can do when you’re at a little company like this. We knew people were tuning in to hear the personalities, but we wanted to give them something to look at. So we literally took cutouts, like cut them out with scissors, of Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, put them on popsicle sticks, and had two interns hold them in front of a little stage and just act out the debate in real-time. We’re talking tens of thousands of concurrents watching this alongside our commentary.”
On podcast promotion tactics:
“Scrolling through Twitter and then seeing a link to a podcast is not a realistic conversion. I don’t know anyone who’s going to just be scrolling through news and say, I’m going to go through an hour and a half podcast right now. So don’t think of it as a marketing tool for your podcast in terms of actual conversion. Have the best Twitter presence possible. Have the best YouTube presence possible. Play the titling and SEO game, make the thumbnails just the way they want you to make them, and change your titles.
Recognizing what each platform’s strengths are, is how you grow your product. And then they all help grow each other through soft brand engagement and a constant presence in people’s feeds.”
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