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SPI 654: How to Use the Sneak Attack Method for Podcast Growth with Gillian Tietz

None of us start out with an army of superfans. In fact, even getting people to give our content a chance on social media is a challenge in the beginning.

In this Teaching Friday episode, Gillian Tietz of the Sober Powered and The Grind podcasts explains why and gives us tactics that actually make a difference.

Today, Gillian teaches us her Sneak Attack Method for social media. This is how she creates posts that bring in thousands of new followers and podcast listeners by leveraging the power of quick wins.

This is a masterclass in podcast marketing, but the tips apply to all forms of content. Listen in, and be sure to go to for the resources Gillian mentions in this episode.

Gillian has been a guest on episodes 1190 and 1245 of AskPat. I also pointed to her recently as an example on episode 650 of the Smart Passive Income podcast—she is doing amazing work with her Sober Powered Media podcast network.

When I have members of SPI Pro take over the show to share their expertise, I know the content will be insanely valuable—this session is a perfect example of that!

SPI 654: SPI 654: How to Use the Sneak Attack Method for Podcast Growth with Gillian Tietz

Gillian Tietz: First, no one cares about your announcements. Your posts need to be valuable whether or not someone ever leaves the app, directing people to the value is not going to cut it.

And second, whatever you do, don’t tell anyone that you’re promoting something. Make a post that appears to be like any other post. And once people are invested in it, enjoying it, and getting something from it, then you hit them with your call to action. Don’t lead with asking them to do something for you when you haven’t given them a reason to trust you yet.

Pat Flynn: Hey, hey, it’s Pat here. You’re about to listen to something a little different on the show today. It’s not our usual Friday format where I follow up on Wednesday’s episode. Don’t worry, those aren’t going away forever. Just a little break to bring in something even more special, in my opinion. And this episode and the next few are a part of our Teaching Friday series, which we do with our SPI Pro members.

We have an incredibly talented pool of people within SPI. Why not give our pros, the spotlight and teach you here on the podcast every once in a while. it’s just one of the perks of being a part of Pro in fact. With each episode, you get to hear a different pro, teach you something special from their area of expertise.

Without further ado, I’ll let them take it away. Oh, and if you want to find out more about SPI Pro and be a part of it, you can go ahead and apply at

Announcer: Welcome to the Smart Passive Income Podcast, where it’s all about working hard now, so you can sit back and reap the benefits later. And now today’s guest host, she’s been a gamer for over 20 years, and recently invested over 200 hours playing Elden Ring. Gillian Tietz.

Gillian Tietz: Welcome back to the Smart Passive Income Podcast. I’m your host Gill, and I am taking over for Pat Flynn today to teach you how to build your social media following and effectively promote your podcast, YouTube channel, or services at the same time. I call it the sneak attack method, and it’s helped me make posts about my new podcast episodes that drive people to go listen to my podcast and grow my account by thousands of followers all in the same post.

In this episode, you’ll learn why your posts might not be getting any traction, how to adjust your posts so people give them a chance, and how to build trust over time with your audience on social media so they’ll eventually go off the app and take the next step with you. When I’m not hanging out in SPI Pro, I do a bunch of different things.

I’m the host of the Sober Powered Podcast, which is a top 50 mental health podcast. I run a podcast network with five other top mental health podcasts called Sober Powered Media. I speak at podcasting conferences, so look out for me there in the future and make sure to say hello. I’m the host of a new business podcast called The Grind, and I teach one college chemistry class and lab at a university in Boston.

So you can probably assume what my podcast is about from the name, but it’s about sobriety. I teach people how alcohol affects the brain and why it’s so hard to get sober. When I started my podcast, I had no following and no one knew who I was. Most advice you see online is to share with your personal network, but I didn’t wanna share my sobriety with most people who I knew in real life.

So I purposefully kept my sobriety podcast away from my friends and family. Instead, I made a brand new Instagram account and posted my very first new episode is out post. I thought that people would see the post and wanna go listen to my podcast, but that is not what happened. I continued to show up week after week, announcing my new episodes, but my numbers were growing very slowly.

I could not figure it out. Why didn’t anyone care about my new episode? I thought that I was doing what everyone else did and I was taking the advice that I saw online about how to promote a podcast. So why weren’t my posts and sound bites getting people interested? And of course I blamed myself and I compared myself to other people that were posting, and they were better than me.

They were prettier than me. People just liked them more. But what I wouldn’t learn for another year and a half is that there’s so much noise on social media. Everyone is trying to get their followers to go somewhere else and do something. So because of this, people don’t automatically trust us. And it’s easier for them to detect when you’re trying to get them to do something, and that just makes them tune us out.

So we have to prove ourselves to them and show them that it’s worthwhile if they make the commitment to leave the app and spend their time on something else. An announcement of what your episode, video, or course is about is not going to do it. You have to show them inside social media that you can help them.

Pat calls it giving them a quick win and quick wins are essential in the sneak attack method. We try to model our promotional strategy off big successful podcasts and influencers, but giant shows like Huberman Lab, for example, can make a new episode is outpost and everyone just goes and listens to it.

Dr. Huberman has over 2 million followers, so of course a ton of people are going to listen. We can’t look at the biggest shows as an example of what to do. They don’t have to be creative in their marketing. Their audience is so large that they can make an announcement and lots of people will give their show a chance.

Then these people begin sharing it, and the show naturally grows. If you have 2000 followers, or you are brand new and you just made a new page like I did, not many people are going to automatically give your show a chance. We have to do more to build their trust than just showing up. So I started out just like most other people do, I made announcement posts and sound bites.

I thought the sound bites would be a great teaser to make them wanna go listen to the rest of the episode. But how many random strangers are going to sit there, click on a boring looking sound bite and listen to it? Sound bites are so obvious that everyone is going to scroll right past it, so never post a sound bite ever again, please.

Even if you think you’re taking the most impactful moment of the episode, it’s still not a quick win for someone. They have to sit there and listen to the teaser and watch the waveforms go across the post. I know it’s frustrating if you observe big accounts just randomly start a podcast and they make their new episode is out posts and they shoot up the charts and just everyone listens to it and shares it, and you are not having the same response with your work, but it is what it is.

Some people have an advantage and other people don’t, and if you don’t have an advantage and you’re starting out from zero, then you have to get really creative with your marketing, and you have to be willing to analyze what you’re doing.

You can’t just simply show up and expect people to move off the app and go do whatever you’re asking them to do.

So first you have to identify where your people hang out so you know where to post. So are they on Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or somewhere else? So this is a really important step, so don’t skip it by making a quick assumption.

So for example, everyone’s going really crazy over LinkedIn marketing right now because not too many people are utilizing it. But I can’t promote my sober podcast over there. The nature of LinkedIn is to show any post you like or comment on with your entire network. No one wants every colleague they’ve ever worked with to see that they’re liking sober content.

If I tried to promote my show on LinkedIn, it would be unsuccessful because of the platform choice, not necessarily because of my posts. I settled on Instagram because there’s a huge community of sober influencers over there, and although Instagram is rough and the algorithm can be very depressing, that’s where my people hang.

When I first started my Instagram account, I could not understand why people would not go listen to my show. It’s the exact information that they’re looking for, but they would not give it a chance. So I thought if only they knew what they would learn in the episode, then maybe they’d go listen to it. So I started playing around with new episode is out posts with text on the image.

I started with the entire episode description, which didn’t have much of an impact, and then I moved to putting the main four points from the episode on the picture. That started working better, and this was when I began to see a little bit of traction. And these posts were even shared once or twice too.

But there was still one major problem. I wrote episode on the post. It would say the episode number and the title. So I was still revealing that this was an announcement post about a new episode for a podcast that most people didn’t listen to. As soon as someone detects that your content doesn’t apply to them, they will leave. And that’s what you’re doing by telling them it’s a new episode.

If they don’t listen to your podcast, they’re automatically assuming this does not apply to me, I don’t know what this podcast is. And 99% of people scroll by. The sneak attack makes them believe it’s just any old post, so they give it a chance. That’s the hardest part, not making the best content, just getting people to give your stuff a chance.

And that’s where these giant brands that make podcasts and everyone listens to it, even though their posts are just announcements. That’s why they are successful because they have a lot of people there, so their reach is really large and more people are willing to give it a chance. My content has barely changed in two and a half years of podcasting.

Sure, my delivery is better, I know more, and I’m better at podcasting, but my show has the exact same flow as it did in the very beginning. My evolution as a podcaster was more about how to convince people to give my work a chance. I put all the posts I’m referencing for you at, by the way, so if you wanna see what I’m talking about, you can go look there.

What I realized in year two of my podcast is that we need to stop seeing social media as a strictly promotional tool. Your content on social needs to be valuable, not just informing people where they can get the value. That doesn’t count when I’m scrolling Instagram or some other app, it’s not because I’m looking for someone to tell me to go to a different app or to their website.

It’s because I wanna do some mindless scrolling and maybe see something helpful. We get stuck on the provide value advice, and we think we’re doing it because we’re directing people to where they can get the value. But your actual post needs to have value. No one cares about announcements. So armed with this new understanding, I analyzed other posts in my niche and I tried to see what type of post people were loving.

What were they sharing? The quote card post was really popular as well as reels, of course, and I didn’t post reels for a long time because the first time I tried to, my reel actually blew up and I had tons of trolls making fun of me because I couldn’t drink alcohol and they could. And the large amount of trolling scared me away from reels for over a year.

So I was doing this even without reels, so it’s possible. So I decided to make quote card posts, and this is an excellent way that you can promote your podcast on Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn. I took one of the most impactful things that I said from my episode, or what my guest said, and I put it on a slide in Canva.

And here’s the key. When I put my brand name on the slide, I only said Sober Powered, not Sober Powered Podcast. This is because we do not wanna let them know it’s about a podcast. So remember, this is called The Sneak Attack, so you have to be sneaky. Your goal is to not let anyone know that you’re trying to get them to go somewhere else.

Once they can detect that you’re trying to move them off the app, they scroll by and leave. So you have to be sneaky and get them to invest in your post and like it, and really look at it before you tell them that you want them to go somewhere else. Quote cards are really shareable. And at the bottom of your caption, you can tell them, learn more in episode whatever of your podcast.

So that is when you reveal that it’s actually a podcast episode. A large amount of people will just casually like the post and maybe share it and then leave a smaller amount, will read the caption, get something out of it, and then discover it’s a podcast episode and an even smaller amount will actually go listen to the episode.

But that’s okay because we want these people to start following us, and no one is going to follow you from a new episode is out post so they can keep seeing your announcements in their feed. But if you have a valuable post that applies to them, then they will definitely follow you to see more of that.

So this is how you promote your work and build your following at the same time, if your posts are valuable enough, people will excuse the constant promotion and still follow you anyways even if they never follow your call to action. And once someone starts following us, we gain the opportunity to convert them into listeners.

And this step can take a really long time. So try to be patient here. I’ve had people DM me that they followed me for over six months and they said they finally listened to my podcast, it’s the most helpful thing, and now they’re binging it. It took them over six months to find something that really applied to them or to be at a point in their sobriety journey where they need my information.

If I was just posting announcements though, then these people would’ve never hung out with me for so long. So a sneak attack post is valuable whether or not someone goes and listens to your podcast, watches your video, buys your thing, whatever it is you’re trying to get them to do. Think about that each time you make a post, what is the point of this post?

How is the post itself going to benefit someone? Eventually I began making reels again, and I started with trends just like everybody else. And trends are good to show people that you’re relatable and that you understand what they’re going through, but they are not great promotional tools unless you’re coaching people on how to use social media. Trends are not going to help you showcase your expetise.

And relying on trends attracts a certain kind of audience too. You are attracting people who want to see you do the next trend, not necessarily people who wanna buy from you or learn from your expertise. You need to be careful not to collect a random audience of people who aren’t there for your work.

I’ve seen people use trends, dancing, or shock value to collect a big following, but those posts that got all the followers have nothing to do with what they’re trying to sell. So then they struggle and try to sell a bunch of different things, and no one ever wants it, and they have no idea what they’re doing wrong.

But the truth is they collected a bunch of random people in their audience. So if you do use trends, make sure that they apply to your main topic and that they aren’t your only strategy. So you should have a mixture of different types of posts, not just all trends. As I continue to learn more about the algorithm, I learned that when you post a carousel, it has the opportunity to be shown to your audience twice.

The first slide will be shown when you post, and then the second slide can be shown around two days later. So this doubles my chances of getting people to see and interact with my post. So I switched from quote cards to carousels. I put the title of my episode on the first slide as the hook without mentioning the word episode or podcast.

And then I would take the most impactful things that I said or my guests said, and put that on the next slides. And sometimes I even made diagrams too, cuz people really like visuals. And those posts got insane attention. Some of them brought in thousands of new followers from one post, even though it was a new episode is out post.

And on the last slide of every carousel, and at the bottom of the caption, I say, learn more in episode, whatever of the Sober Powered podcast. Carousels are killing it over on LinkedIn right now and on Twitter, you can do it as a thread. You can even use a tool called Taplio to convert Twitter threads into LinkedIn carousels so you can work smarter, not harder.

And you can post the same thing on two different platforms. If you wanna post video, then I recommend doing talking head videos, but if you’re just getting started and shy about it, then trends work too. Just start posting consistently and don’t worry about being perfect or having the right strategy.

You’re going to learn as you go. When a post does well, you should analyze it and try to see why, so you can do more of that. And when a post is horrible, instead of beating yourself up and feeling bad, see it as a learning opportunity and try to understand why the post didn’t do well. Start analyzing other people’s posts too.

If you skip by something, pause for a second and try to figure out what made you scroll by it so quickly. If you start analyzing social media instead of just scrolling, then you’ll learn a lot about what works and what doesn’t. Some people are absolutely blessed by the algorithm and get insane reach for no good reason.

But just because you don’t have the best reach doesn’t mean you can’t make highly sharable posts. I have never been blessed by the algorithm. So you are not alone there. And at the end of your Reel, have some texts that comes up saying, learn more in episode whatever of your podcast, and also have it at the bottom of your caption.

Talking head videos work really well if you’re a solo podcaster. Even if you don’t have a video podcast, which I don’t either, you can record a quick video sharing one impactful thing from your episode. Imagine it like the carousel post, but in video form, you’d say the same thing that you would put on the slides.

And if you have guests on your show, then consider making a quick Reel inside Riverside.Fm. This isn’t technically a sneak attack because it’s obvious that this is a podcast interview, but these posts do pretty well on social media too. The mistake that a lot of people make with video is they start off the video by taking a breath or saying, Hey guys, it’s Gill from Sober Powered, or explaining what they’re going to talk about instead, just get to the point immediately.

Just like announcing it’s a podcast episode, those are all things that are going to make people scroll by and not give your video a chance. Each time you post something, I want you to think about potential ways you’re encouraging people to unfollow you or scroll by your content. Are you taking too long to get to the point? Are you posting random things that have nothing to do with the main point of your page? Are you letting everyone know you want them to go somewhere else?

Try to think that through and your content will start to improve. My promotional strategy has evolved over the years, so when you get started with the sneak attack method, it might not be amazing every time.

Just learn as you go and try to adapt what you’re doing as you learn what people like and what they don’t like. There are two key things I want you to remember about the sneak attack method. The first, no one cares about your announcements. Your posts need to be valuable whether or not someone ever leaves the app, directing people to the value is not going to cut it.

And second, whatever you do, don’t tell anyone that you’re promoting something. Make a post that appears to be like any other post. And once people are invested in it, enjoying it, and getting something from it, then you hit them with your call to action. Don’t lead with asking them to do something for you when you haven’t given them a reason to trust you yet.

If you would like to see the evolution of my posts, then check out and if you enjoyed this episode, you can get more on my business podcast called The Grind. If you implement the Sneak Attack, I would love to hear how it worked out for you and what you learned. And thank you so much for having me on the show, Pat.

Pat Flynn: Thanks for listening to the Smart Passive Income Podcast at I’m your host, Pat Flynn. Our senior producer is David Grabowski. Our series producer is Paul Grigoras, and our executive producer is Matt Gartland. Sound editing by Duncan Brown. The Smart Passive Income Podcast is a production of SPI Media. We’ll catch you in the next session.

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