The relationship created between podcast host and listener is just one of the many aspects that make the podcasting medium so special. Besides your desire to share your message, your listeners are most likely your next biggest motivator for hitting “record” on a new episode. Your listeners are, therefore, vital to the overall success of your podcast, but in order to achieve that success, you need to create more than a loyal listener base, you need to develop a community around your show. Establishing a community creates an environment where your audience can move from just being listeners to feeling like they are truly a part of something. As humans, we have an intrinsic need to belong, and a podcast community can help meet those needs in an incredibly rewarding way – both for the host as well as for the listeners. A strong podcast community also helps to keep your listeners engaged and helps you cement your authority within your niche – a true win-win for all! But just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, podcast communities don’t just happen. They take time and require a game plan. And that’s where this post comes in! Keep reading for some sound strategies for building a strong podcast community around you and your show.
1. Create A Vision For Your Community
As has been stated, strong podcast community does not just happen, and the first step is to create a vision of what you want your community to be. Yes, there are plenty of practical steps you can (and will) take to grow and develop your tribe, but those steps and strategies will be in vain if you don’t have a clear vision for what you want that community to look like. So before you put the rest of your strategies in place, you need to start by creating a vision statement for your community. List what you hope to accomplish through the community and what you want the community to achieve, both for you and your listeners. This will then help you decide on the strategies to use that will best meet your and your listeners’ needs.
2. Encourage Listener Engagement
Your next strategy for building your community is to start getting your listeners engaged in your show. Whether this means simply asking for reviews on whichever podcast directory they use, or asking them to leave comments on your blog posts, this first level of engagement from your listeners will be the foundation of building a community around your show. Along with getting your listeners engaged, you will need to get engaged as well. An effective way to do this is simply to take the time to respond to the comments your listeners leave and to show appreciation for their reviews. Although this may become harder as your community grows, it is a super effective, yet simple, strategy to encourage the growth of your community. If listeners feel like they are able to actually connect with you, it will instill a greater desire to become a fully-fledged community member as they know their voice is heard and that it matters.
3. Ask For Listener Input
Since your audience is the lifeblood of your show, it is important to always take them into consideration. Our next strategy for building your community is simply to ask for their input. This simple gesture can go a long way to establishing a sense of community between you and your listeners. Ask for input regarding the type of content they are wanting to hear more of, the type of guests they would love to hear on your show, or the type of topics they’d like you to cover. Practically getting this information could be done by appealing to your listeners in your show and asking for their input via comments or reviews, or you could send out surveys or questionnaires via your mailing list. The simple act of asking your listeners for help goes a long way to establishing a real relationship between you and them, which you can then extend as you build your community. However, simply asking for their input is not enough. Strategy 3 is really Step 1 in a two-step plan, which brings us to Strategy 4…
4. Create Listener-Driven Content
Asking for your listener’s input is a great way to build your relationships with them, but in order to really build your community, you need to act on that input. This means actually putting some of their suggestions into practice. This will show your audience that you are really interested in them and that their input means something. Some ways to do this could be including some of their suggestions in your show or creating new segments where you take the time to answer listener questions. You could even have rotating, “fun” segments based on listener input where you try out some of their suggestions or content ideas.
Bonus Tip: If you include a listener suggestion in your show or answer one of their questions in a segment, remember to give them a shoutout. Shoutouts during your episodes are a GREAT way to cultivate your relationship with your audience! I mean, who wouldn’t love to hear their favorite host personally address them in an episode or answer a question they put forward!?
5. Create Online Platforms For Interaction
Another effective strategy for building a strong community is providing your audience with a platform and a “space” to find their voice and share their thoughts related to your show. Creating a forum or another virtual portal specifically dedicated to your community gives your listeners this space to build relationships with you, but, perhaps most importantly, with other like-minded people. A community platform allows them a channel to communicate and find others like them, who share similar values and goals…and who also love your show! The most commonly used platforms for building this sense of community are Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, but it’s really up to your and your audience as to which platform or combination of platforms you decide to use. Live stories on Instagram, questions tweeted out on Twitter, or engaging Facebook posts are just some of the ways you can use these platforms. The creative opportunities across the different platforms are literally limitless, but for the purpose of this post, we will single out one of these platforms in Strategy 6 and show you how to use it to strengthen your podcast community.
6. Create A Facebook Group
Facebook groups are a really effective way to make your audience feel like they are a part of a real community. These groups are great because they virtually create that sense of togetherness as they mimic a real-life community where you can develop relationships with people as you interact with them. A Facebook group specifically for your show is also an easy way to give your listeners a place to call their own and a platform to further discuss their favorite episodes, share their input, or ask you questions. You should aim to share posts on this platform, such as open-ended questions, that not only encourage engagement between you and your listeners, but that also encourage the members to engage with each other, as this is where the real magic of community takes place. Facebook groups are really so effective for fostering that sense of community but they do require consistent interaction to make them a true success. You will need to make sure that you are continually creating content for this platform and encouraging constant engagement in order to strengthen your podcast community.
7. Create Shareable Content
Another winning strategy for building a strong podcast community involves creating highly-valuable, shareable content. When your content is fresh, consistent, and audience-focused, your listeners won’t be able to help but get excited about it. In turn, they will want to share it far and wide to get others as excited as they are! And if you’re consistently creating content that meets your listeners’ needs, they will be even more motivated to share this with others. Sharing valuable content allows your community to create a “buzz” around your show which will then attract new listeners as the community will be seen as a fun and inspiring place to be.
8. Host a Live Event
Although online platforms and virtual groups do wonders for strengthening your community, there is nothing quite as solidifying for a community as a meetup in real life! Meeting your listeners in person helps establish relationships beyond the screens and the headphones and brings a sense of realness to your community. It doesn’t matter if 5 or 500 people show up! What is important is connecting with people for a common purpose which helps to foster long-lasting, authentic relationships. Whether it’s a simple meet-and-greet, or a big event, perhaps even collaborating with other podcasters, what is important is that you are giving your audience the opportunity to get together. Even in our technology-focused day and age, there is no substitute for in-person connections, and these live events will not only strengthen the connection between you and your listeners, but they will create a space for your listeners to build real relationships with each other, which will greatly strengthen your podcast community for the long haul.
9. Cultivate Authentic Relationships
No matter which strategies you choose to use to strengthen your podcast community, this one is by far the most important – the cultivating of authentic relationships. However you choose to develop your community, real, authentic relationships must be your goal, as these are key to your long-term success. Your listeners need to know that you are showing them the real you. They need to feel that you are being authentic and truthful in the content you share and how you interact with them on your chosen platforms. This requires vulnerability on your part, which can be scary! But vulnerability is an absolute necessity in establishing strong connections and bringing a community together. Through all that you do, show your listeners that you truly value and care about them. Show them that they matter. Respond to listener questions, actively participate in community discussions, and show appreciation for engagement, but above all, do all of the above authentically.
In order to create a successful show, you need to create a place where your listeners can really connect with you and with each other. Fostering this type of community really brings your listeners together and creates a deeper relationship with them and your podcast. Building a strong, engaged community will not happen overnight. It will take time, both in your day-to-day as well as in the long run. You will have to schedule time in your already busy daily schedule to focus on nurturing your community. It may also take weeks or even months before you start to feel the sense of community building around your show, and it will take effort from your end to consistently engage and interact with your community. But the time and effort to produce the end results will most definitely be well worth it! Connecting with people who truly buy into and support your vision and point of view is what makes podcasting so rewarding, and through establishing a thriving, active community around your show, you’ll truly reap all the rewards this incredible medium has to offer.