Promoting A Show On Social Media: What Drives Engagement and Subscribers—and What Doesn’t

Frank Emanuele


Lisa Marinelli


After you create a show that you’re super proud of, it’s time to kick promotion into high gear and spread the word far and wide — and one big slice of the promotion pie is making sure you have a solid social media strategy in place.

In this post, we’ll explore the different ways we used social media to promote our series Show Business, our biggest production to date, in which folks can learn what it takes to create a video series or podcast from start to finish.

We knew we wanted to drive engagement and attract people to watch our show. But what metrics were important to us, and why? What channels supported our key performance indicators (KPIs), and which didn’t? And, now that our promotion is complete, what would we have done differently?

We chatted with Wistia’s Social Media Manager, Frank Emanuele, to answer all of these questions and more, so you can learn the best ways to leverage social for your own show promotion!

Have a clear plan

First things first: You’ll need to establish your social promotion strategy far in advance. Some starting points to consider include getting clear about the goals of your campaign and the messages you’re trying to convey.

Setting your goals and nailing down your messages ahead of time helps keep you focused as production continues and makes it easy to measure success once you do start promoting.

“Setting your goals and nailing down your messages helps keep you focused and makes it easy to measure success.”

For Show Business, our goal was to drive sign-ups for the 20-episode series on a landing page where folks would enter their email. We also asked ourselves, “What is going to get people to actually watch the show?” Asking questions like this helped shape the messaging across our social channels; ultimately we felt offering a Show Creation certification to people who watched the series would definitely entice them to watch.

If you know your goal is to get people to sign up for the valuable content you have to offer, it makes it easy to set benchmarks and track success toward that goal.

Use video for show promotion

Using video in your social promotion strategy for your show seems like a no-brainer. After all, people are spending more time than ever watching videos online — we saw an 85% increase in minutes watched on our platform alone in 2020. However, there are a few best practices Frank broke down for us for using video on social channels.

When you’re planning to sprinkle videos in your posts across social media, it’s important to find the best moments of your show and put your strongest foot forward. You should strategically choose to highlight the content that’ll help you achieve the goals you set in the beginning.

For Show Business, it was important for us to show the full breadth of value people would get from watching the show. The series was created to be funny and entertaining, but also to be informative and deliver real value. Because of this, we chose to tease a few of our favorite moments and previewed guest clips. We wanted to communicate all of the most unique aspects of the show and highlight the value folks wouldn’t find anywhere else.

Focus on driving traffic to your site

As we mentioned, we created a landing page on our website where folks can sign up and watch Show Business. The truth is, making your website the home base for your branded content will help you grow and own your audience in the long run.

“The truth is, making your website the home base for your branded content will help you grow and own your audience in the long run.”

With the support of a social strategy, you can convert your existing followers across different platforms into subscribers by directing them to your website, where your content lives.

In order to drive this traffic to your site, give away just enough of a tease in your creative and use a clear Call to Action (CTA) that makes people want to click for more.

Test and iterate

When you’re thinking about your strategy, there are several elements of the content strategyyou can test and iterate along the way.

For Show Business, we tested different CTAs to see what drew people in the most. We also experimented with various video lengths — we created looping GIFs that were two to three seconds long, one-minute trailers, and a few things in between.

We also tried outdifferent types of videos, like trailers with narration, graphics, and talking heads. Other videos were simply headshots of guests with title cards introducing them.

While testing different styles and lengths, we cut things that didn’t work and kept things that did for our ongoing promotion strategy.

Curious about the specifics of what we learned in this phase? Keep reading — we dive into each platform and our takeaways next!

Promoting “Show Business”

Now we’re going to dive into Frank’s full promotion strategy for Show Business across Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. We’ll discuss the campaign Frank built for a two-week pre-launch phase before the official release of Show Business and his ongoing promotion afterward. Find out what worked, what didn’t work, and the results we saw.


During the pre-launch phase, Instagram was one of the main channels we used to build hype for our show.

What worked? Frank created a week long series of Instagram stories hosted by Wistians who played big roles in bringing the show to life. Here are some of the folks who shared highlights from Show Business and the topics they covered:

  • Development Producer Sydney Rutman on pitching your show internally
  • Lead Producer Adam Day on scripting your show
  • Head of Production Chris Lavigne on being a good director and post-production
  • Senior Growth Marketing Associate Evanna Payen on launching and promoting your show

Results The Instagram Story series with Wistians surpassed our expectations! Typically, posting long Stories multiple days in a row results in declining viewership day after day. In this case, however, we saw a 10% increase in viewers over the course of the week! We also received the most positive feedback for Show Business on Instagram versus other social channels.

What we would have done differentlyWe started our two-week hype phase with vague teasers, and we gradually revealed more and more about Show Business as we got closer to launch.

However, a few early teaser posts with looping GIFs of mysterious footage from the series didn’t generate as much engagement as we’d hoped. The content we published in the following weeks did better than these initial posts.

View post on Instagram

That said, we do think these vague teaser posts served their purpose of generating enough curiosity that our audience wanted to see what we had up our sleeves. This led to increased engagement later in the hype phase.


Let’s take a look at how we leveraged Facebook to drive engagement and subscribers.

What worked? Since the official launch, we’ve been running an ongoing video series featuring bite-sized highlights from each episode of Show Business. We cut every episode down to 30–60 second chunks to tease the topics we’d be covering. Here’s an example below:

Results The episode highlight video series is still ongoing but so far, it has consistently outpaced expectations on Facebook in particular. Reach is 30% above average, and engagement is 20% above average.

What we would have done differently Facebook teaser posts during the hype phase didn’t have the same outsized impact we saw on channels like LinkedIn and Instagram. Organic reach on Facebook is much harder to achieve.

Our guests who appeared in the series also don’t have large audiences on Facebook, so we didn’t benefit from the same boost from Shares or Retweets that we saw on other platforms.


Another main channel we used to drive traffic to the hype page during pre-launch was LinkedIn.

What worked? Given the educational and professional nature of Show Business, it’s no surprise that our hype phase teasers performed well on LinkedIn.

Focusing on the value proposition was key here for driving engagement. These were the messages we focused on conveying:

  • How Show Business can help solve the shared problems faced by marketers and production folks
  • Top-notch advice from subject matter experts
  • The certification in Brand Show Creation viewers would receive after watching

Results The videos we shared on LinkedIn during the hype phase and launch day drove more sign-ups for Show Business than any other organic social channel — nearly 45% of all sign-ups from social media came via LinkedIn.

This goes to show that when you create the right content for the right audience across your social channels, you’ll set yourself up for massive success!

What we would have done differently We tested the episode highlight video series on LinkedIn, but it didn’t take off the way it did on Facebook. Frank’s theory here is that a serialized episode-by-episode breakdown is less compelling to a professional audience than a concise, engaging trailer or sizzle reel.

We’re pulling back from the episode highlight video series on LinkedIn to make room for other Show Business content that resonates better with our audience.


The last platform we used to promote our show on social media was Twitter.

What worked? On launch day, we published a thread that included the series trailer as well as a video showcasing (and tagging) the marketing and production experts featured in Show Business.

Letting those videos shine was key. When our guests retweeted the thread, the videos were front and center, making it easy for their audiences to learn about the show.

Results Allowing the trailer and other videos to do the heavy lifting was the way to go. Thanks to a launch-day social boost from the series’ featured experts, our Twitter content on launch day had 5x average impressions and 10x average engagements.

What we would have done differently Because there was a lot of important messaging we wanted to communicate, some posts ended up being too heavy on the copy. As you might expect, those posts didn’t perform quite as well as posts that let the videos and images do the talking.

Top takeaways

As of the date we published this blog, Show Business is officially Wistia’s #1 source of social media video views year-to-date in 2021! And, social media is a top referral source for generating new series sign-ups (second only to email).

Here are our top takeaways for promoting your video series on social media:

  • Customize your content for each channel. Knowing who your audience is and what piques their interest on each platform will help you shape your creative for better engagement.
  • If your show has guests, leverage their reach. You and your guest(s) could mutually benefit from getting in front of new audiences. You can even create a promo kit for them to make it easier to spread the word.
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment (and to cut what’s not working). Think outside of the box, and try new things. You never know what ways of presenting information might resonate with your audience and unexpectedly delight them.

Show off your show on social

We hope you’ve gained more insight from our learnings on leveraging social media and video to promote your brand’s show. And remember, if you want to drive engagement and subscribers, create the right content for the right audience across the social platforms that make sense for your brand.

Frank Emanuele


Lisa Marinelli


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