Using Twitter to Grow Your Podcast with Yong-Soo Chung
Imagine running a high 7-figure business with over 300,000 followers on social media, then launching a podcast. How many downloads would you expect? 100,000? 150,000? What about…10?
We’ve all been there: we spend a TON of time pouring blood, sweat, and tears into a project just to have it launch to crickets. That’s exactly what happened to Yong-Soo Chung with his podcast. Despite the social following, no one cared about his show.
But instead of wallowing in self-pity or shutting the show down, Yong-Soo took action. He reactivated his 12-year dormant Twitter account, and started basically from scratch, growing to 20,000 followers in less than a year.
Now he has a great process for getting people from Twitter to his newsletter, to his podcast.
We’ll cover his entire journey and more. Plus, in the PRO show, we exchange notes on our production processes!
- Have a clearly defined niche, and know how to reach people in that niche. Yong-Soo’s initial problem was a mismatch between his businesses and his show. Once he started to find people in the right niche, he started to find listeners.
- Share personal stories – these are the things that resonate with people, no matter what platform or niche. By being a little vulnerable, people will want to learn more about you and your story.
- Continuously hone your target avatar and make sure to grow your show to serve your audience and yourself. You need to be interested in the show – after all, that’s how you tell a good story.
- Yong-Soo Chung
- Yong-Soo in Twitter
- Yong-Soo in Instagram
- Yong-Soo in Linkedin
- Using AI to Craft a Listener Avatar
- Want People to Find Your Podcast? Do More Than Just Tweet with Deirdre Tshien
Yong-Soo Chung: So basically, it felt like I was going into a party. Imagine like a room full of people. At that point, I had about 400 followers. So at the very least, I go into a party, I would imagine that at least I would recognize one or two people in that large room, new environment that I could kind of like bounce ideas off of or just meet other people through that person.
But I walk into this room at a party and I know no one. It’s all filled with strangers. I don’t know anybody. That’s how I felt when I first started posting on Twitter, where I’m sharing all these vulnerable things about me, all the stories, but no one cared. It’s a weird thing, Joe, but I could feel people looking at these posts and almost judging me. Who is this guy? Who invited him to the party?
So it took me a long time where I had to go up to each person, using this party analogy, introduce myself, build a rapport, build a relationship…
Joe Casabona: Imagine running a high seven-figure business with over 300,000 followers on social media, then launching a podcast. How many downloads would you expect? 100,000? 150,000? What about 10? We’ve all been there. We spend a ton of time pouring blood, sweat, and tears into a project just to have it launched to crickets.
That’s exactly what happened to Yong-Soo Chung with his podcast. Despite the social following, no one cared about his podcast. But instead of wallowing in self-pity or shutting the show down, Yong-Soo took action. He reactivated his Twitter account, which had been dormant for 12 years, and started basically from scratch, growing to over 20,000 followers in less than a year. Now he has a great process for getting people from Twitter to his newsletter to his podcast.
We’ll cover his entire journey and more. In the pro show, we’ll exchange notes on our production processes. Now as an homage to Yong-Soo’s show, instead of top takeaways, I want you to look for these life lessons.
Life lesson number 1: have a clearly defined niche and know how to reach people in that niche. You’ll find that that was Yong-Soo’s initial problem.
Life lesson number 2: share personal stories. We all try to hack the social media algorithms and copy what the biggest influencers are doing. But Yong-Soo says that’s not the right approach.
Life lesson number 3: continuously hone your target audience, and make sure to grow your show to serve them and yourself.
This was such a fantastic interview. I love talking to Yong-Soo anytime I get the chance to. I think you’re going to enjoy it as well. And if you want to get this episode and every episode ad-free and extended, you can join the membership over at howibuilt.it/join.
Like I said, in the pro show, we’re going to exchange notes on our production processes because I’m going on Yong-Soo’s show, and he has come on mine.
But for now, let’s get to the intro and then the interview.
[00:03:30] <Intro music>
Intro: Hey everybody, and welcome to How I Built It, the podcast that helps busy solopreneurs and creators grow their business without spending too much time on it. I’m your host Joe Casabona. Each week I bring you interviews and case studies on how to build a better business through smarter processes, time management, and effective content creation. It’s like getting free coaching calls from successful solopreneurs.
By the end of each episode, you’ll have one to three takeaways you can implement today to stop spending time in your business and more time on your business or with your friends, your family, reading, or however you choose to spend your free time.
Joe Casabona: All right, I am here with Yong-Soo Chang. He is a serial entrepreneur and creator of First Class Founders. I would consider him, at this point, a friend. Yong-Soo, how are you today?
Yong-Soo Chung: I’m doing fantastic, Joe. How are you?
Joe Casabona: I’m great. Thanks so much for coming on the show. I had a great time on your show. We probably should have talked about this in the pre-show. But I don’t know when our episodes are coming out relative to each other. This episode’s coming up before mine hits yours. So I’ll just link to your show in the show notes, and then people can subscribe so that they can hear my podcast in your podcast.
Yong-Soo Chung: Oh, perfect. Your episode is going to be really good. So for your listeners, definitely don’t miss out on that one.
Joe Casabona: I don’t know if this made it in. So I’m just gonna say something I did was I enjoyed screamy music like Screamo and Slipknot. And I told Yong-Soo and his producer that I did a rendition of that in high school play, so they wanted to hear that. So I did it. It got recorded. I don’t know if it’ll make it into the show. I guess you’ll have to listen. But if you want to hear my best-
Yong-Soo Chung: It’s gonna make it in.
Joe Casabona: …my best Slipknot impression, if you want to hear that. And there you go. That’s how you grow a podcast. So end of this episode.
Yong-Soo, what I love and what I want to talk about with you is you’ve really built, I think, what is a really good Twitter following. I’ve been on Twitter since April Fool’s Day 2007. I’ll never forget it because I’m like, “Well, I’m the fool here.” I’m like a Twitter pessimist where I feel like you’re like a social media optimist. And I think it shows because I’ve got almost 6,000 followers as you record this. I didn’t check right before we started recording, but you have a lot more than that. I think it was 18,000 the last time I checked, maybe.
Yong-Soo Chung: We’re gonna hit 21k probably today.
Joe Casabona: Wow. So quite a following. Correct me if I’m wrong, you were not really doing Twitter before 2022?
Yong-Soo Chung: I was not. I think I joined around the same time you did, Joe. I mean, we must have been one of the first few users on there.
Joe Casabona: Yeah, because they launched in 2006 probably in San Francisco because that’s where all social media starts basically, or a Harvard dorm room, I guess. But it didn’t really enter the cultural zeitgeist until Oprah mentioned it in like 2009 or 2010.
Yong-Soo Chung: I was on there and I was pretty early, but I didn’t really understand it. I just thought it was pointless. So I kind of disappeared for a while. I pretty much took – what? A 10 year, actually more than 10 years, maybe 12 year hiatus where I just got off the platform. I didn’t see a point in it.
There was a point in my journey where I just didn’t really like social media. I didn’t really see the point of it. I wasn’t really into publicly sharing what I was doing all the time. So I got off of it. And then when I launched the podcast, First Class Founders, in November, that’s when I realized, Hey, I need to get more public about what I’m doing here, or else my audience will just be nothing. Right? So that’s kind of why I decided to get back on.
Joe Casabona: Okay, before you launched your podcast, though, you have multiple million-dollar businesses, right?
Yong-Soo Chung: Yeah. One holding company with three businesses. So I launched my first business in 2015. It’s an e-commerce site selling flashlights, pry bars, pocket knives. That’s been growing really steadily. And then in 2018, brought home a French bulldog named Humphrey. This is right around the time when Instagram was promoting videos. A few of his videos… Actually, what’s funny is the videos where I’m holding him and cradling him like a baby, those really took off, like into the million views.
Joe Casabona: Wow.
Yong-Soo Chung: So he gained a following really fast. It surprised me. We weren’t planning on that, but it just happened. So my wife and I were like, “All right, people are asking us like, Hey, what’s that leash? What’s the harness you have? So we decided, Hey, we have an eCommerce brand already with Urban EDC, my first company, why don’t we just do the same thing but for French Bulldog owners?”
So my wife launched Spotted by Humphrey, which is an online boutique for mostly French Bulldog owners. We launched that. And then fulfillment, or I guess in e-commerce, you have to actually pack the item and ship it to the customer. That is one of the notoriously difficult parts of e-commerce.
We were getting a lot of feedback from people like, “Hey, who’s doing it fulfillment because my fulfillment is horrendous.” And I have some horror stories myself where a customer would email me and say, “Hey, is this a joke? You shipped me an empty box.” I’m like, “What are you talking about?”
So it turns out that the fulfillment partner that I was using had taken the item out. And these are expensive collectible items. It’s like $1,000 custom pocketknife for example. And they shipped my customer an empty box. And the way I found out about it was a customer angrily emailing me being like, “What is this deal?”
Joe Casabona: Geez.
Yong-Soo Chung: So fulfillment was a huge pain point. So we decided to launch GrowthJet, which is an e-commerce 3PL. That was in 2019. So those three businesses collectively we’re doing probably 6, 7 million this year in annual revenue. So approaching the eight-figure mark, which is kind of my goal.
So those three businesses, going back to this original question, I thought, people have seen me grow as an entrepreneur. Especially Urban EDC, my first business, you know, we had 170,000 followers on Instagram, we have a huge emailing list, approaching 100k subscribers on the mailing list. We have my French Bulldog, Humphrey, his following is very loyal. I mean, my wife does an amazing job with the content. She’s basically co-created the content with Humphrey.
And I just thought, “Hey, you know what, I can launch a podcast here. I’m launching to an audience because I already have the first business that started and then I have the Humphrey account. So those two audiences should allow me to at least start with a baseline audience.” It was so funny because I launched it and I was so optimistic and then it just fell flat. No one cared.
Joe Casabona: So let’s establish the baseline here. Your EDC following cared about EDC, everyday carry, for those who don’t know. I love that. I love pocket knives and pens and all that fun stuff. Actually, there’s a knife brand that escapes me, the name escapes me right now, but it was so light. It was like a $250 knife. It was so light. It fell out of my pocket and I lost it, and I’m so sad about it.
Yong-Soo Chung: Oh, no.
Joe Casabona: I’ll think of the name before the end of the show. So anyway, it’s an EDC brand. And then the followers of your dog Humphrey, that’s dog content.
Yong-Soo Chung: Dog content.
Joe Casabona: I really hard time leveling with that, because I’m not an animal guy. I’m really sorry to everybody who’s an animal person. And then your podcast is not about EDC nor is it about dog stuff. It’s about founder origin stories and takeaways from people starting businesses, right?
Yong-Soo Chung: That’s right. I do a solo episode and a guest episode. The solo episode is mostly me explaining some concepts from my own journey as an entrepreneur, and guest episodes are hearing from others about their founder origin story and the lessons they’ve learned growing whatever they’re growing.
Joe Casabona: Your thought here, which is a valid thought, I would also have this thought, is there are people who are following your other businesses who are probably interested in the kind of stuff that you’re doing and how other people are launching businesses. But that wasn’t really the case. EDC people only care about EDC. The dog people only care about dog stuff.
Yong-Soo Chung: Yeah. It was a struck.
Joe Casabona: In the style of Andrew Warner, who I know you had on your show, I’ll just ask you, how many downloads are you getting in those first few episodes?
Yong-Soo Chung: I was probably getting between 10 to 20 downloads an episode.
Joe Casabona: Wow. And you had like six-figure followings on multiple accounts?
Yong-Soo Chung: EDC has 170,000 followers on Instagram, 100,000 newsletter subscribers. The dog account, Humphrey, has 150k followers across Instagram and TikTok. And Humphrey fan base is very loyal. It’s really engaged audience.
I thought at least 1% will be a good base minimum. But I mean, it was a shocking to me when no one cared. Basically, the audience for Humphrey is following Humphrey for his content is funny and cute stuff. And then EDC is obviously they want to see the gear. So they don’t care about building businesses. So that’s kind of the biggest mistake, honestly, that I made.
Joe Casabona: Yeah, it sounds like if you had launched an EDC podcast, you would have gotten a bunch of EDC listeners. And if you launched a day in the life of Humphrey podcast, you would have gotten listeners.
Yong-Soo Chung: Exactly.
Joe Casabona: So that’s really interesting. I think there’s, again, in the style of First Class Founders, life lesson number 1, have a clearly defined niche and know how to reach the people in that niche. Big followings don’t necessarily mean a lot of downloads for your podcast.
Yong-Soo Chung: Exactly.
Joe Casabona: I did that. That was life lesson. I know you switched it up for Andrew. Live question was what you did for Andrew.
Okay, we all know the feeling of… I’m gonna say we all know the feeling of launching to crickets. I remember I launched my first course. It was a text-based course, on how to launch a blog with WordPress, and I put hours into writing those words. I remember doing it in Disneyland, and then various coffee shops around my hometown. And I was like, “This is gonna be great,” and two people bought it. And I was like, “Why is this?”
I had a big following in the WordPress community but they were developers. Developers already know how to launch a blog. So they didn’t need that course. Their clients didn’t need that course. I guess, what was the initial feeling like? And then when did you resolve to take next steps to fix the problem?
Yong-Soo Chung: So, basically, it felt like I was going into a party. Imagine a room full of people… At that point, I had about 400 followers. So at the very least, I go into a party, I would imagine that at least I would recognize one or two people in that large room, new environment that I could kind of bounce ideas off of or just meet other people through that person. But I walked into this room at a party and I know no one. It’s all filled with strangers. I don’t know anybody.
That’s how I felt when I first started posting on Twitter, where I’m sharing all these vulnerable things about me, all the stories, but no one cared. It’s a weird thing, Joe. But I could feel people looking at these posts and almost judging me. Who is this guy? Who invited him to the party?
So it took me a long time where I had to go up to each person, using this party analogy, introduce myself, build a rapport, build a relationship, and then get introductions from that person, or I go to a different person and say, “Hey, how are you? My name is Yong-Soo. This is how I feel today. I also have a podcast.”
It’s like building those individual relationships over time, that compounds. You may not realize that that compounds but each little relationship you build one-on-one, that will add to your kind of baseline level of like, “All right, we know who this guy is.”
So the party room, by the way, is getting bigger and bigger and now you have a reputation. Someone might be like, “Hey, Yong-Soo, come meet my friend over here. You guys should talk.” So all of a sudden, you get pulled into the these other conversations.
So that’s kind of the analogy that I like to use. It’s kind of like when you meet someone and you connect with someone, then you get pulled into other rooms, and then you start talking there. And then someone else is like, “Oh, I know another guy who’s also doing something really cool. You should meet him.”
So it’s kind of like, Yeah, these different… You’re a computer guy. It’s like almost like different notes, right? So like you got these notes and you’re kind of planting yourself in these notes, and you’re growing your network. That approach has really transformed my online presence, I guess.
Joe Casabona: I love that. I want to dive into that but first, we need to take a break for our sponsors.
Joe Casabona: All right, we’re back. You’re at this party. I love this analogy. I love what you’re saying about building relationships. Because I think that the approach for a lot of people is I’m building a Twitter following at a macro level, I want to appeal to as many people as possible because Twitter has millions and millions of followers. But your approach is really different and it’s really worked for you.
Yong-Soo Chung: I think it’s really important to realize that it’s a two-way street. The way I like to see it is like it’s not a broadcast platform. It’s not like you’re standing on a soapbox broadcasting with a loudspeaker like, “Hey, this is what I did this week,” or “Here are my wins.” That approach won’t work, especially at the beginning.
The approach that works is getting on the ground floor, meeting people, hearing about their problems, their pain points, connecting with them, adding a little bit of value to that conversation. And then now you have this rapport with that one person. And then you kind of repeat that process.
It’s very difficult in the beginning, because you don’t know anybody and no one really cares about you. And you’re putting in all this work, and you feel like you’re doing it for nothing. So the hardest part is always at the beginning. But one by one relationship is built, and then you support their work, too.
So what’s great is when you meet these people at this party, they may also be kind of a smaller following, smaller account. But then you start engaging with each other and you kind of grow together. And then at some point, they’re also a larger group, and they have more authority and clout. So it’s kind of like this flywheel where you’re growing together.
Imagine you do this with a bunch of people. And when that happens, everyone lives together. A lot of bigger accounts today, what I’ve heard is that they also started really small, but then they had like a peer group accountability that kind of lifted all the boats together. I think that’s really key is finding accountability partners or this peer group of friends who are going to support your work, you support their work, and you just all grow together. I think that’s been a really big shift in the way I approach Twitter and social media in general.
Joe Casabona: You painted such a great picture here. Because I think people view Twitter as if they were invited to speak at a conference, and they act that way. But really, it’s more like what you said. It’s a party or a networking event where you don’t just address the room. People are going to just ignore you unless they already know you.
So you’ve got to go to these individuals or groups or… you know, there’s the idea of podcast Twitter and baseball Twitter, and etc. Twitter, and engage with those kind of micro-communities inside of Twitter as a whole, or LinkedIn, or maybe Threads.
We’re using Twitter as the royal [leaf?] for all social networks, right? Because who knows what Twitter/X is going to be in a few years. It’s just kind of the natural life cycle of most websites, most technology things. But I like this approach of the one on one thing.
Before I ask you how you made the move to get people from Twitter to your podcast, I do want to ask you about the relevance of Twitter/X. Because Elon bought it around the time that you got onto the platform, right? We’ll say reengaged with the platform.
So you don’t have the same baggage that a lot of Twitter users and former Twitter users have of like, I remember the good old days or whatever. Which by the way, the good old days were like 2007 to like 2010 for me and a bunch of people would just like live-tweet Yankee games. Those were the good old days. Anything after that was kind of a hellscape. And Elon did things that didn’t change that.
Anyway, my point is, you’ve built this following almost exclusively on Elon’s Twitter. Do you think Twitter is still relevant? I feel like you’re a little bit more optimistic about this than I am.
Yong-Soo Chung: Yeah. I am optimistic, and I’ll tell you why. Each social platform goes through these waves of change. And you can’t really control this change because it’s almost like psychological human consumer behavior that changes.
Imagine back in the day… remember when Facebook launched their newsfeed? There was an outrage. There’s literally petitions to Mark Zuckerberg being like, “Bring the old Facebook back. We hate the newsfeed.” Literally a news feed is every single social network now has a news feed of some sort. That is social media.
Joe Casabona: Right, that’s social media now. But you’re right. I remember anytime Facebook made a change from let’s say ’09 nine to ’14, there were petitions “bring back the old one.” If you repost this, Mark Zuckerberg will show you the old feed again or whatever, like those weird scammy post things. So yeah, you’re absolutely right. People are just averse to change.
Yong-Soo Chung: They’re averse to change. I do feel like towards the end of the Twitter that we know it, before Elon came over, to be totally honest with you, I felt like it was a little bit stale. What I mean by stale is there wasn’t a lot of innovation happening.
I live in San Francisco. So I drive by that Twitter headquarters building very frequently. I just remember thinking, “When is Twitter gonna go down?” Because first of all, they were losing money. It was like an antiquated old platform that people weren’t really using. My prediction was that it would actually be like MySpace where they would just become irrelevant.
Joe Casabona: Or like relevant to only a very small niche, right? Like bands.
Yong-Soo Chung: Exactly.
Joe Casabona: MySpace became like a thing for bands.
Yong-Soo Chung: So I thought that was happening. That was my point of view. Again, other people might be like, “Wow, it was amazing. I had whatever, whatever.” But in my point of view, it was declining. So when Elon took over, I was like, “All right, this is gonna get interesting.”
Obviously, Elon, his vision is probably top point 0.001% of entrepreneurs in the entire world. Like he’s crazy vision. Obviously, he’s a little out there. He says stuff that he shouldn’t really say. He’s a crazy dude. And the thing is you have to be a little crazy if you’re gonna buy out a public social media platform, bring it private again, and it’s now his ownership. It’s crazy.
Joe Casabona: Like, you have to be a little crazy to do everything that Elon has done? Imagine being like, Oh, yeah, we’re gonna make reusable rocket ships that lend themselves.” That’s insane. And he made that happen. I mean, Elon says a lot of things that he shouldn’t say. He definitely shoots first and then aims. That’s the kind of thing that he does. And that’s really annoying and capricious to people who have been on the platform for a long time.
But I think you’re right. Again, threadbois, to use Khe Hy’s term, like, Oh, here’s how to make a million dollars, build a product people like, get people to buy it. Those people who buy it will then sell it for you. And I’m like, That’s not how it works, and you know that, Dickie Bush. That’s crazy that you would even say that. But that got a ton of engagement.
Yong-Soo Chung: I’m glad that it’s changing now. I’ve been following kind of what he’s trying to build, it’s very ambitious. And I don’t know if he can pull it off. But Elon is the one who could pull it off, if anyone can pull it off. I know he’s gonna push video. He wants to make it into a video, compete with YouTube, Spotify, Apple. I think he’s going to do more audio podcast stuff. I know he’s doing payments. So micropayments using cryptocurrency.
So he’s got a lot of stuff planned that I’m eager to see what happens. But I think that it’s good for the platform as a whole.
One of the things is I think change just generally is a good thing. If you can be on the front of that change, that’s a huge opportunity, because now you’re riding the wave of this new change versus being stuck in the old ways of like, Oh, man, I used to remember when I posted this random thread about making money, it went viral. It was so easy. But now it’s changing. So if you’re ahead of the change, you could grow really fast.
Joe Casabona: That’s a huge point. I think the takeaways here are, first of all, build relationships. I was going to ask you if what you were doing is still effective, but building relationships is always going to be effective. That’s not a Twitter hack or LinkedIn growth strategy. That’s just people. People are people. So building relationships is always going to be effective.
Yong-Soo Chung: I will add here, Joe, that in the last two, three weeks, I’ve seen kind of a change in people that I’m attracting. I think this is an important point I want to bring up. So about a month ago, I started… instead of posting for my audience… So I was quote-unquote, a creator and my content was around building an audience and how to monetize your audience, things like that. Which to be honest, there’s so much content out there for that.
And I was kind of like hiding behind… I didn’t really know how to structure the content around the holding company that I have, the personal holding company with the three businesses. So I wasn’t really sharing about that. It was just more about like, Here’s how to build an audience, things like that.
When I shifted my content to talk more about my own life, and just generally things that I’ve been doing for the last eight years, the funny thing is, it may not seem relevant for a lot of people because who’s gonna build a holding company with three, four or five businesses? I don’t know if a lot of people will do that.
But what’s interesting is, I started getting followers being like, “I want to follow your journey. I want to get to know how you’re doing X, Y, and Z.” So it became more of this follow my journey type thing in a more of an interesting perspective, because not a lot of people are doing what I’m doing in terms of the holding company.
Essentially, my view is you can pretty much build a business from any hobby. We brought on Humphrey. His food was expensive. So we built a business. Now we get paid to go to five-star hotels, we stay for free, because we just have to create content around the hotel. It’s crazy.
I started sharing more of that content. And I may not appeal to the broader audience, but then what happened was I started getting people to follow me, people that I would not imagine would follow me. For example, Pompliano, Anthony Pompliano. I had Greg Isenberg follow me.
I had these guys that I wouldn’t expect them to follow me. They started following him because I was sharing interesting stuff. It’s almost like a higher advanced level content. And they were following me because I was sharing that level content versus another, like, here are five habits that you need to know to succeed. Pompliano is not going to follow me if I post content like that. You know what I mean?
Joe Casabona: Yeah. That’s super interesting. Because one of the conversations that we had via Jay Clouse’s lab was how I can leverage the podcast audits I’m doing to do well on Twitter. And the first one I did was like… Yong-Soo, it was gangbusters. It’s the best tweet I’ve ever had. And it’s not even close.
That is my most viral tweet, where the second is way behind and it was a picture of a table with a bunch of books with swear words in them. And I’m like, “This is my least favorite trend.” That got maybe half the engagement and views that this thread got.
But then I noticed recently those threads weren’t doing as well. But I tweeted that after eighty-six months, this podcast finally got to 100 reviews in my takeaways. And that like popped off a little bit. This is something I sent at my kitchen table when I noticed it. And that popped off a little bit. So I think sharing your journey… It’s so funny because earlier you said, with your podcast, people didn’t really care about that but that seems to be the thing that’s resonating on Twitter now.
Yong-Soo Chung: Exactly. Your original question about is your strategy working now, I would say sharing personal stories… You got to have a little bit of a unique angle. Like I’m trying to do this, which is kind of a fun and quirky thing. Follow me if you want to see what I’m doing. I think that’s kind of what is working.
Generally, I feel like that’s a good strategy to have, because people are curious. They want to see people succeed. So that’s been working for me in the last month or so.
Joe Casabona: Again, in keeping with the format, I’m going to say life lesson 2, share your personal stories. These are the things that resonate with other people and helps you build those relationships. I love that.
But we’re missing a key piece of this puzzle here, right, because we have a very big open thread in Yong-Soo’s podcast story. Launched a podcast with no following, built a huge following on Twitter. How do you get those people to listen to your podcast?
Yong-Soo Chung: This is interesting because when I started building these relationships on Twitter, I started directing them to listen to the podcast. This was not easy. Because if you imagine someone’s scrolling through a feed on Twitter, getting a reply being like, “Hey, can you check out my podcasts?” Who’s gonna have a time at that very moment to click into a podcast player and listen to an episode, a 30 to 40-minute episode? Nobody. No one’s gonna do that.
What I started doing is instead of having my, I guess, audience funnel be from social media or Twitter, in this case, to the podcast, I put the newsletter in between there. So it’s a really easy ask, like, “Hey, by the way, I share lessons on how I built my business and other people as well, join 8,000 people who also signed up to my newsletter.”
So I’m using the newsletter because all you’re doing is you’re asking for an email address. So that’s very quick, takes two seconds, very low commitment. And then now you have them. And now you can continuously email them reminding them, “Hey, I have a podcast episode. Hey, by the way, I have a podcast episode this week.”
Every single week I send out a newsletter. And now not only is it good for like they’ll click on endless to the episode, but it’s like a good branding play. They may forget the First Class Founders Podcast exists. But then they’ll see it each week and be like, Oh, yeah, I remember this guy. Oh, yeah, I met him on Twitter. I wonder what he’s up to.” They might go to the Twitter profile. It’s a very good branding play, too.
Joe Casabona: Yeah. I love that.
Yong-Soo Chung: The newsletter sits right in between.
Joe Casabona: So the newsletter is the bridge basically. It’s the bridge between Twitter and your podcast. And this makes perfect sense. Because, “hey, listen to this podcast” is a big ask. Especially if someone’s not ready at that moment, if they’re not already subscribed to your podcast or if they don’t usually listen to podcasts, now they’re like, “How do I listen to this? I gotta keep this website up on my phone to listen to this?
There’s a barrier to entry there. It’s like saying, Hey, you’ve never swam before, go swimming in the ocean. Whereas like with the newsletter, like you said, it’s a much lower ask. It’s like, Hey, just stick your feet in the river. That’s nicer. You’re already out the river, just take your shoes off, put your feet in it. I really like that.
There’s a psychological principle behind this too. Political campaigns would do this where they would go door to door. Before micro-donations were a thing online, they would go door to door asking for donations to the campaign. “Hey, are you willing to donate 100 bucks to the campaign?” “No, I’m not really ready to do that.” “Oh, okay, I totally understand. Would you mind if we put this sign in your yard for our candidate?” “Well, yeah.” It’s like the big ask followed by the smaller ask. You feel bad that you didn’t give them 100 bucks, but “oh, yeah, you can put the sign in my yard. That’s fine.”
I think that’s kind of the same thing. Like, Oh, you’re not gonna listen to my podcast, but you can sign up for the newsletter. I mean, that’s an easy thing to do.
Yong-Soo Chung: Yeah, exactly.
Joe Casabona: I want to ask more of a tactical thing here. What do you use for Twitter? Are you just posting directly on Twitter or are you using Hypefury or Typefully or something?
Yong-Soo Chung: I use Typefully for 80% of it. And then for the ones that are longer form tweets, or ones that I really want to pay attention to, I just do it on my own. I just do all the bold, italics, all the stylistic stuff directly on Twitter.
Joe Casabona: Okay. Because I noticed Typefully supports that. I don’t want to call Typefully. There’s no API, no Twitter tool can do that. Only Twitter can do that. So then when you do the follow-up tweets, is that only going to be on the ones that you post from Typefully? I’m asking because I use Typefully but I find myself writing just on Twitter more lately because you can do longer formatted stuff. So I don’t get the follow-up tweets now. Because, unlike Hypefury, Typefully, doesn’t watch all of your tweets, it just watches the ones that it sent.
Yong-Soo Chung: I go in there and I respond to every single comment on that tweet. That’s pretty important. This is another thing that was mentioned is the latest algo change, which I don’t like chasing algo stuff, but it’s significant in that if someone replies to your tweet, it boosts the algorithm significantly. And then if you respond back to that response, it boosts it even further. So it’s really important to engage.
And also generally, it’s good because you want to engage with your audience anyways. So I always respond as much as I can to every single response. I do that just kind of manually on Twitter or web app.
Joe Casabona: And then if you say like, “Hey, if you liked this, check out my newsletter,” you’re gonna post that manually in the course of engaging with other people on that tweet?
Yong-Soo Chung: Oh, for that one, I’d say 80% of tweets go through Typefully, and Typefully will plug that in automatically after it reaches a certain amount of likes or hearts or whatever. But then the ones where I do it manually, I will plug that in once I see that the post is doing well. You can tell because you can go back and check the impressions and that impression number is going up really fast.
Then it’s like, All right, it’s in the algorithm, it’s going to do well. And then what I’ll do is I’ll do a plug, but it’ll be a customized plugs that doesn’t seem like the regular one that I’m doing for Typefully.
Joe Casabona: Oh, cool. Yeah, makes sense.
Yong-Soo Chung: It’d be more catered towards that piece of content that I wrote. For example, I did one with Humphrey. So the call-out was like, If you want to know how I built Humphries business, join the newsletter or something like that.
Joe Casabona: So let me ask you then. How much time do you think you spend on Twitter every day?
Yong-Soo Chung: To my probably. At least two three hours.
Joe Casabona: But that works for you, right? You’re not doom-scrolling the whole time. You’re building relationships that then you can send people to your podcast, to your newsletter. I’m subscribed to your newsletter. I don’t recall you promoting your other businesses in that newsletter.
Yong-Soo Chung: That changed today. So I sent out a newsletter today-
Joe Casabona: Oh, okay.
Yong-Soo Chung: and I plugged in GrowthJet, which is the 3PL company. So that’s the first time ever that I plugged my own company. But I think I’m going to experiment with this more. I’m actually going to add my company as a sponsor in a few episodes just to see what happens. But I think that that’s going to happen more and more.
Joe Casabona: And that makes sense, I think great GrowthJet is kind of the closest to like doing business and growing business sort of thing. Right?
Yong-Soo Chung: Exactly.
Joe Casabona: The missions are most closely aligned there. I do have a note here that I want to touch on because Twitter wasn’t your only exploration for growth avenues, right? You did something with Player FM.
Yong-Soo Chung: Yeah, let’s talk what that. About a month and a half in, I was… I guess, honestly, it was probably because of my frustration with the lack of downloads. But it was in one of those podcast newsletters, somebody was like, “Player FM is right now really a good opportunity to do some sponsorship deals.”
So I reached out to them and I purchased their gold package for… it was like two week period. I saw a huge spike up in downloads for those two weeks, and then it just kind of dipped back down and then it leveled. I guess kind of like the new baseline for the level of number of downloads kind of steadied.
I think I was around 400 downloads an episode. So it spiked to where I was getting like 1,000 for those two weeks, and then it went down to 400. So I lost what? Like 60% of that? But to be honest, I think it was worth it because in the beginning, especially you kind of want to have some audience where you can kind of get some feedback.
10, 20 downloads is not much and honestly, they’re probably like my friends and family. So they’re not actually going to be your target audience anyways.
Joe Casabona: What do you think of the show? Oh, it’s good. It’s cool that you do that.
Yong-Soo Chung: Yeah, exactly. So I wanted to have some baseline so I can at least get something going. So I think it was worth it to just do that in the very beginning. But then I haven’t done any of those packages since. The show’s been just growing steadily and steadily just organically through this method. I know you did something similar with Overcast us that you were exploring.
Joe Casabona: Yeah. I did about a month. It was a banner ad in the technology category I think. Like Marco Arment, who developed Overcast is pretty hands-on with those banner ads. So he algorithmically determines the pricing based on demand. But then he goes in and personally approves, so that I can’t say like, Oh, I want the edu category, because it’s the cheapest one, even though there’s no alignment in the edu category or whatever.
I did that for about a month. I think I got about 100 new subscribers because Marco can track that, because that’s a podcast listening app. And I saw a spike in downloads over that time, too, which was sustained for at least a few months. A lot of stuff was changing then. So I don’t know that I can attribute the loss in downloads to just people getting bored with the show. But I think that was worth it.
I did try using Overcast for my other podcast, which was at the time called Make Money Podcasting. And that didn’t work out. There was just not alignment there. I think there would be better alignment now. I might experiment with that more in the future. That’s great.
So let’s wrap up here with, where are things now? How are things going with your podcasts and your newsletter? And kind of how are things going on social media now that we’ve looked at this almost here long journey, right?
Yong-Soo Chung: Yeah, about a year. The podcast is growing. I think the key thing is that you’re retaining listeners. The numbers are pretty much like… if you look at it from a grand scale of like monthly, but then also weekly, the downloads are increasing.
Obviously, there’s fluctuations based on episodes. Like one episode is gonna be better than another. That’s to be expected. But just generally you zoom out and you see a pattern. It is trending up, which is good to see.
The newsletter is also growing really, really fast. So I’m around at 500 subscribers, so approaching 10k. So I should hit 10k in about a month. Honestly, I feel like the growth of the newsletter has also helped the growth of the podcast. I mean, it has to. So I do think that was a big part of that growth trajectory.
And now what’s cool is people on Twitter, I can have conversations about the podcasts on Twitter because people are listening. Before all this, I’m publishing it and I don’t know who’s listening and all that because podcasts obviously are super difficult to get listener feedback and all that.
But now I can have conversations with people on Twitter, being like, Hey, what do you think of this episode, and they’ll give me feedback. And it’s kind of cool to see… I know exactly who’s listening now, which is really cool. So that’s kind of changed the way I approach it now where I’m trying to think about… like I know who is listening. So I’m thinking about them when I’m recording these episodes now.
It’s getting a lot more tight, I would say, the premise of the show is getting tighter because I know more about my audience. So that’s another important thing to do for people who are… I guess podcasters is generally, like, you want to continuously hone in on your target avatar and evolve with your audience and evolve this show to serve that audience. But also serve yourself too. Like you should be the one curious to talk to certain guests.
It’s got to be this feedback loop where you’re constantly improving it based on feedback, based on your download numbers, or whatever it is. But if you don’t have that system in place, then you’re just gonna get stale over time and then you’re gonna lose listeners.
Joe Casabona: So life lesson number 3: continuously hone your target avatar and make sure to grow your show to serve your audience, and yourself.
Yong-Soo Chung: Perfect.
Joe Casabona: Love that. All right, we got three life lessons in. So this is like a meta episode of First Class Founders. In all seriousness, though, this is, I think, a really good and repeatable model for a lot of people. Because we’ve mentioned Twitter a lot, our audience happens to be on Twitter. But you can do this on Instagram or Threads. You can build relationships.
And then say, like, Hey, check out my newsletter. You can do this on Threads maybe. Maybe when this comes out, Threads will be big again. But Threads is growing. It’s all that spike. As we record this, it’s got like the web interface, so it’s getting better. Or LinkedIn. Like you can do this in any of those places because, again, the premise is build relationships, provide value, make it easy. Those three tenants are perfectly commutable to whatever tools and tactics and platforms you hang out on.
Yong-Soo Chung: That’s well said.
Joe Casabona: I love this. I do want to end with the fact that your podcast is now, according to Listen Notes, in the top 2% of all podcasts, and you rank pretty high for the term “solopreneur” if you search on Apple Podcast, right?
Yong-Soo Chung: Yeah. Solopreneurs and then also I ran pretty highly on “founder”, which surprised me.
Joe Casabona: Nice.
Yong-Soo Chung: That’s a big one. Yeah.
Joe Casabona: I’m gonna do a call back to Deirdre Tshien‘s episode where we kind of talk about podcast discoverability. In that, we really dive deep into why you should pick the name and description that you pick. So I’ll link to that episode. Deirdre Tshien.
Yong-Soo Chung: I listened to that episode, Joe, and it was amazing. So yeah, everyone go listen to that episode.
Joe Casabona: Gosh, thank you. She’s a wealth of information. I really loved talking to her. That was 328, by the way. So if you’re just typing in URLs or looking for episodes, that is 328.
Yong-Soo, this was a fantastic conversation. Thank you so much for spending time with us. If people want to learn more about you, where can they find you?
Yong-Soo Chung: I am on Twitter at Yong-Soo Chung. And you can find my podcast at firstclassfounders.com. Or you can just search either “founder” or “founders”. I should rank highly, thanks to Joe’s episode with Deirdre Tshien.
Joe Casabona: Awesome. And I will make sure to link to all of that and everything we talked about in the show notes which you can find over at howibuilt.it/333 for Episode 333. Now, I was so engrossed in this conversation—I’m gonna have to insert this as a mid-roll thing now—that I didn’t even talk about the pro show.
So if you want ad-free extended versions of every episode, including this one, you can go to howibuilt.it/333. There’s going to be a “join” button there. But Yong-Soo and I are going to exchange notes on our production processes. And I’m doing a deep dive on his podcast for my newsletter over at Podcast Workflows. So I might ask him some follow-up questions there.
I also found the name of that knife that I referenced earlier. So if you want to know the brand, you have to sign up. Howibuilt.it/333.
Yong-Soo, thanks so much for joining us today. I really appreciate it.
Yong-Soo Chung: Joe, thanks so much for having me on. It was a blast.
Joe Casabona: And thank you for listening. Thanks to our sponsors. And until next time, get out there and build something.