How To Be Authentic And Not ‘Fake Famous’ With Your Podcast

Authenticity is one quality that all of us look for, be it in business, our personal relationships, and even in the media we consume. So the question is: how do we become authentic instead of just fake famous? Tracy Hazzard dives into this as she analyzes the cost of inauthenticity in the podcast space. Tracy deep dives into what you can do to build your audience without relying on inorganic and inauthentic methods. Tune in and learn more about how to Feed Your Brand.

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How To Be Authentic And Not ‘Fake Famous’ With Your Podcast

This topic is how to be authentic on your podcast and not fake famous. There’s a new movie out on Netflix. It’s called Fake Famous. There was a review in Wired Magazine. We wanted to talk about Fake Famous and this idea of influencer models in podcasting. In the news, the whole MarketWatch on Spotify has downgraded Spotify stock. It has taken a bit harsh look at the model by which Spotify has been buying companies, the valuations that they have been giving it, and the profit that they have not turned. They had been following this influencer or celebrity model of podcasting.

I have been critical of that from the beginning. It’s the opposite model of what we built here. We have built all our monetization, incentive systems, and everything here at Podetize to be the opposite of that. I wanted to go over what that means. Fake Famous is a documentary on Netflix. It is talking about how you create an influencer on Instagram. Lots of people out there think of Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and all of these places as these places to become influencers. We want to become influencers in that.

They lump podcasting into that mainly because we have people like Joe Rogan who came out of that and became influencers. What we are discounting is that they were already influencers somewhere else. We want to take a look at John Lee Dumas and Pat Flynn. Some of those people are hefty and what I consider to be the godfathers of podcasting. They started as bloggers first. They didn’t start in podcasting. We want to take a look at that from the perspective of, “That is not how they became influencers.”

They already had an audience when they started podcasting. The podcasting exploded and grew but they already had that, to begin with. Joe Rogan had been a celebrity already. He had been a broadcaster. He had experience over there before he started his podcast. All of them have worked hard on their show. They deserve absolute credit. Kudos for all of that they have done there. There’s no question in my mind that they helped create the podcast economy that we are all operating within. We have them to thank for that.

We want to take a look at that and say, “How hard is it to create that influence?” Libsyn has a number out there that says 1%. The industry standard was 2% but Libsyn has probably the largest number of podcasts on their platform. Their number says that only 1% of all podcasts get monetized at an influencer style. At the advertising level, only 1% make enough money to break even on your show or greater. Think about that. That’s low.

We have to be authentic about how we do it and truly look for real listeners who are going to add value, who are in our category and who are going to become our clients. Share on X

Keep in mind that a lot of those influencer-style shows are expensive to put together. Their breakeven point might be a little different than you DIY-ers out there. It’s a little bit different model than what we operate under here but that’s still an interesting thought. If less than 1% can break into that and do that, Joe Rogan is by far the most successful out of that group there. My understanding is a lot of his audience also is on YouTube. It’s not a solo podcasting platform model. It’s a web model. It’s blogs, videos and podcasts.

It’s all of that put together that is making their ecosystem of that greater value, not just the podcast, which is why Spotify is being downgraded. They are not making the ad dollars that they should. A lot of it was the purchase of Anchor. When they purchased Anchor, they’ve got a lot of bad podcasters. They’ve got a lot of people who came on the platform because it was free. Free is not free, as we all know that. In this case, the free brought in a bunch of users who didn’t build quality shows. They didn’t have the quality that they were.

On top of it, they spent all of their investment dollars paying people to podcasts and paying for fake advertisements that weren’t advertisers on their show, including that they would play Spotify and Anchor ads for some time. People were barely making $50 a month on some of that. When you look at that model, it’s like, “Is that worth all the time and effort that you put into podcasting to be making $50?”

Anchor went for 10X their value because that’s what they said. They charged Spotify $140 million. It’s a ton of money. They didn’t bring quality users and shows to the platform that would have created greater than 1%. Only 1% qualified on their platform as well. That’s not a sustainable model. When we look at this influencer advertising model, I look at it and say, “Why would you want to work that hard and do that?” You don’t get the fake follower boost that Instagram has.

The Netflix show is Fake Famous. The guy who started the documentary picked three actors and said, “I’m going to make you fake famous on Instagram.” What they set out to do is they ran all these photoshoots that were all faked. That’s interesting and funny to take a look at how they faked them. There’s a scene where a girl is looking out. It looks like she is being photographed looking out a jet window and it’s a toilet seat. By how it’s cropped, lit and everything, you don’t know that it’s not a jet plane. It’s got a landscape image behind it. It’s truly fake. All of that is there.

In addition, they bought Instagram followers using bots and some other systems to boost their celebrity on Instagram. At some point, it worked. It tipped to those fake followers coming through. They had so much followership, some real followers were like, “What are these guys doing? I’ve got to check them out.” They’ve got real followers in the process. At some point, it started to tip the point. There’s a whole bunch of others of how it goes down a rabbit hole of like, “Whether this is good or bad, why Instagram doesn’t shut this down? What is going on there?”

Think about it from a podcast listening perspective. That won’t work. There are programs out there. I have seen them. I see people sending me messages on LinkedIn all the time and offering to get me readers for my blog. That’s great if your model is, “I want to show up on the New & Noteworthy. All I care about is the cache of saying, ‘I was there once.'” However, the problem with that is you can’t sustain listenership from fake followers. Fake listeners don’t listen. If they are not listening to your show, they are not buying anything, referring to your show, and recommending it to anyone else. It’s not growing.

There isn’t a boost model where it does more than puts you on the first page of Apple’s search engine and that’s it. Over 60% of the people who are looking for new shows don’t use that search engine, New & Noteworthy, best in the business class, entrepreneurship or whatever that is in the category to determine what show they are going to watch next. Instead, they ask their friends, go look on Google and google it. They look at articles that are written about the best. They get referrals from different people. They hear someone speak. They follow them and listen to their show.

FYB 153 | Fake Famous
Fake Famous: Keep in mind that a lot of those influencer-style shows are expensive to put together. Their break-even point might be a little different than you DIYers out there. It’s a little bit different model than what we operate under here but that’s still an interesting thought.


It’s not a model by which it’s going to catch fire and create that Instagram influence. Podcasting doesn’t have that built into the system. The only choice at the end of the day we have is to be authentic about how we do it and truly look for real listeners who are going to add value, who are in our category, and who are going to become our clients. The 99% of us out there making money off of our podcasts are making money off of the things that we want to sell core, whether it’s our books, programs, masterminds, courses or products. Some of us have products.

Whatever it is that we want to sell in that model, that’s what we are looking to get. Having fake followers isn’t going to help you do that. Spending time and energy on faking it as a podcaster is not the win. The win comes from truly getting followers who find value and then share you. They tell their friends. Podcasting has built into it an incentive for more authentication. Also, you can sustain this week after week, talk knowledgeably about what you are doing and be that true type of a high-value influencer, not a fake one.

That’s what I’m encouraging you about. Take this lesson and say, “I’m going to worry less about the hacks on how to get more listeners. I’m going to worry more about making sure I’m in front of the right audience as much as I can, whether that’s through articles or making sure I’m posting in social groups that are relevant to the right type of people that I want to drive to my show.” It’s also sharing out on your social platforms and asking people to share you. It’s incentivizing your audience to do some sharing.

We have some great tips from various podcasters that have done that running contests. There are other ways to go to get real listeners that are going to come back again, binge on your show, listen to everything you have, and then buy everything you have to sell, which is extremely important. We want to boost that active listener. That’s the bingeable listener. That’s what I call it. The active listener is the one who is engaging in all that they can and want more from you.

I love podcasting because it’s built-in to level that playing field where you can’t fake it anymore. You might have been able to fake it before because there weren’t as many shows. To show up on that first page was the way to find it but it doesn’t work like that now. We want to look at it from this perspective of being able to say, “I’m an authentic podcast. I work hard for my audience. I’m putting in my time to make sure I build a great show and get great guests. I’m sharing, participating, and engaging in all those places.” It’s a lot of work being a podcaster. That work deserves the reward of good listenership.

That’s the reciprocal relationship. When I’m invested in my audience and providing them tremendous value, they come back and read again because I’m that resource, podcaster, and girl who has the answers for them. That’s how we find that residual value over time. It’s a short little thing on how to grow your show through authenticity and some tips about that. Check out that article about Fake Famous in Wired Magazine, as well as go check it out on Netflix. We will be back together in the next episode. He is out at an event. We will be doing another episode.


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Tracy Hazzard

Tracy Hazzard is a former Authority Magazine and Inc. Magazine Columnist on disruptive innovation, and host of 5 top-ranked podcasts including: The Binge Factor and Feed Your Brand–one of CIO’s Top 26 Entrepreneur Podcasts. She is the co-founder of Podetize, the largest podcast post-production company in the U.S. As a content, product, and influence strategist for networks, corporations, marketing agencies, entrepreneurs, publications, speakers, authors & experts, Tracy influences and casts branded content with $2 Billion worth of innovation around the world. Her marketing methods and AI-integrated platform, provides businesses of all sizes a system to spread their authentic voices from video to podcast to blog, growing an engaged audience and growing valuable digital authority.
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