Taking the time to set your podcast chapters (episode timestamps) can make all the difference for your listeners’ experience, and ultimately, on your show’s growth.
What are podcast chapters and timestamps?
Generally speaking, both timestamps and chapters provide the same purpose: To give audiences a glimpse of your episode’s content and find (or skip to) parts of interest. They’re the podcast-equivalent for books’ Table of Contents.
For most players and streaming platforms, they’re pretty much built-in. Apple Podcasts, Pocket Casts, and Overcast, for example, display timestamps after the episode has been played. On the other hand, other platforms like Spotify have clickable ones in text form found in the episode’s description (Similar to those that can be found on Youtube). For this article, both terms (chapters and timestamps) are used interchangeably.
How can they improve episode performance?
Advertising and Promotion.
Chapters, as mentioned previously, act as a “Table of Contents” for your podcast. Hence, having them would provide audiences with a good idea of what they could expect from each episode. Apart from Firstory’s Personal Website and Tags, Chapters can also serve as searchable strings of words that listeners may place on search engines like Google. Having them will increase your show’s chances of being discovered.
Teasing the Content
As your audiences get a glimpse of what’s to come, they then also develop things to look forward to. This means they are less likely to end the episode midway through if they’re still expecting an interesting topic. Apart from increasing audience retention through streaming time, your listeners may also simply skip ahead to these parts (better than ending it midway, right?).
You’re listening to a podcast on a true crime heist case. Suppose you’ve already gone through the ultimate scheming part and have reached a dull, boring segment of the host sharing his experience being robbed a few years back. Feeling fed up by the host’s frequent story interruptions, you considered ending the episode and finding a better true crime podcast. However, as you saw the timestamps, you realized that there are only 25 seconds left before he continues on with the heist’s story and outcome. You decide to wait it out or to skip to that segment instead of ending the show.
Some platforms like Spotify allow listeners to share podcasts from an exact time. This means the recipient would no longer have to manually scroll through looking for the exact point in time (More about that here). Although this benefit is mostly indirect, having timestamps can be a handy and convenient way for both sender and receiver to easily locate and view the podcast content.
Your friend has sent you a podcast segment on managing financial investments. Upon listening to this on Spotify, you glanced over to the episode’s description out of curiosity or habit. You saw the timestamps and found other segments that may be helpful. You ended up listening to the entire episode. In fact, you gained so much knowledge from the podcast that you’ve started to listen to other episodes as well. Before long, you became one of this show’s avid listeners.
From these scenarios alone, it can very well be said that chapters and timestamps can really be a helpful tool for both podcasters and listeners. This is why Firstory has designed an easy way to input Episode Chapters right from Firstory Studio!
You might be wondering:
“Wouldn’t it be easier for me to just type in the timestamps into the description box itself?”
That could work, but not every platform supports clickable description timestamps. The table input mode (as shown in the photo below) is handy for platforms with chapters built into the player itself such as Apple Podcasts, Pocket Casts, and Overcasts. “Switch to text mode” allows creators to easily copy and paste the information onto the description box. This means you no longer need to worry about invalid time formatting!