Want to know one of my favorite things about being a part of the podcast industry? It’s a long list, but right at the very top? The people! There’s a bond that exists because of the one thing we all have in common – we love being in the podcast industry. And because of that, there’s an incredible sense of belonging, no matter where in the world we find ourselves. We have this community that we’re all a part of.
But that sense of community and belonging extends beyond those who are part of the podcast industry. It develops between podcast hosts and their audience. And that relationship which is created between podcast host and listener is just one of the many aspects that make the podcasting medium so special.
And it’s no secret that the listeners are vital to the overall success of any podcast. But in order to attain that success for your show, you need to create more than a loyal listener base. You need to develop a community around your podcast. 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. And because a podcast community is an integral part of a podcast’s success (and we’re all about helping podcast hosts achieve that long-lasting success!), we wanted to share some of our most effective strategies for building a strong podcast community around you and your show.
1. Draft a Blueprint for Your Community
Anything that’s built to last first starts off as a plan. And so any thriving podcast community begins with a solid blueprint. Your first step in creating your buzzing community is to envision characteristics you want your podcast’s community to have. You need to dream up a detailed blueprint of your community.
List the characteristics you want your community to exhibit. Detail how you want your community to interact – with you as the host as well as with their fellow listeners. You should even write down what you hope to achieve with your podcast community, or what goals you want to accomplish. From all of the above, you’ll have a fantastic foundation for building your community, as you’ll now be able to come up with the most effective strategies to help you achieve your community objectives.
2. Foster Listener Engagement and Interaction
Any relationship is built upon good communication. But how do you create good communication with a podcast, which is more of a one-way conversation. You, as the host, tend to do most of the talking, and your listeners, by definition, are doing all of the listening.
But for these community relationships to be built, you need to have interaction. And so, the next strategy for building your community is to foster opportunities for listener engagement.
And there are a whole host of ways you can do this. You could start by simply asking your listeners to engage with your content by leaving reviews or comments on your show. Platforms like Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, as well as sites like Podchaser make it easy to do this. But you could also create this opportunity on your blog posts or posts you share to any of your social media platforms. Comments on your content or reviews of your podcast form the first level of engagement with your listeners and so can be seen as the building blocks of your podcast community.
Take the time to respond to any comments you receive, and that two-way conversation that’s so important in the building of any relationship will have begun!
3. Request Listener Input
This strategy equates to open lines of communication. Since your audience is the lifeblood of your show, you can turn listeners into loyal community members by including them in your podcasting process.
How can you do this? Simply ask for their input. This simple gesture can go a long way to establishing a sense of community between you and your listeners.
Periodically reach out and find out what 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.
You can use the above-mentioned channels, like your blog or your social media platforms, or you could provide an email address, or create a separate page on your website for this kind of submission.
This type of collaboration goes a long way to establishing a real relationship between you and them, which you can then extend as you build your community.
4. Share Listener-Focused Content
So, real talk. Just asking your listeners for their input is only half a strategy. The other half is consistently delivering that high-quality, value-rich content your audience is after. Of course, that’s what you should be doing with each and every episode, but to really help in the community building process, you should then be using the suggestions that your listeners share with you to keep giving them what they’re after.
Bonus Tip: If you really want to amp up your listener engagement and build a buzzing community, take your listener suggestions one step further. I’m talking about shout outs! If you include a listener suggestion in your show or answer one of their questions in a segment, give them a mention! This is a seriously effective way to establish really strong bonds between you and your listeners.
5. Use Social Media
The clue is in the name…social media is social! And it’s possibly one of the best ways for you to connect with your listeners in a real way. The ability to comment on posts makes all types of social media perfect for interaction. Add the features of sharing stories, and going live, and these are what makes social media essential for building your podcast community.
Make sure that you direct your listeners to your social media accounts so that your followers are made up of a substantial amount of your listeners. You can then use these platforms as an effective way to build your community by creating lines of direct communication. Your listeners can then start interacting with you via those channels.
6. Create A Facebook Group
One particularly effective way to utilize social media to specifically build your podcast community is to start a Facebook group around your podcast. Facebook groups help foster a sense of a real community, no matter where in the world you and your listeners are.
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. You can post questions, discussion points, or ask for more input. Your listeners can further discuss their favorite episodes or ask you questions. They can also interact with each other, which is key to strengthening your community.
7. Create Shareable Content
Highly-valuable, highly shareable content is another effective way to build your community. If you’ve got great clips from your podcast, relatable memes, niche-related graphics, or audiograms of your content, you’ve got content that is shareable that’s directly linked to your podcast.
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! Sharing valuable content allows your community to firstly feel a sense of belonging between themselves, but this will also create a “buzz” around your show. And this, in turn, will then attract new listeners as the community will be seen as a fun and inspiring place to be.
Related read: Tips For Using Audiograms To Promote Your Podcast
8. Host Live Events
Meeting your listeners in person or online will help establish your relationships beyond the screens and the headphones. These “real time” events help bring a sense of realness to your community. And with the help of technology, it’s super easy for any podcast host to plan and host a virtual event, which is a winning strategy if your listeners are enjoying your podcast from all over the world. And if that is the case with your podcast, a virtual live event is just what you need to do to help create the foundation for your podcast community.
Whether you host your own mini conference, hold a virtual meet and greet, or simple go live and answer your listeners’ burning questions is not that important. What is important is that you create opportunities for real interaction with those who love your podcast. And these real interactions are another stone in the foundation upon which you’ll build your community.
Related read: 10 Ideas For Live, Virtual Podcast Events
Our last two points are less practical strategies, but they are actionable and vitally important to successfully building of your podcast community…
9. Avoid Self-Promotion
This is less of a helpful tip and more of a word of caution. Whichever strategy, or combination of strategies you employ to build and strengthen your podcast community, one thing must be a constant. Self-promotion cannot be your modus operandi. Yes, you are wanting to build a community around your show, but this certainly does not mean that all your interactions with your listeners are all about you. Not by a long shot!
In fact, I would even venture so far as to say that the work you do to forge and foster a thriving podcast community shouldn’t be about you at all! It should be about connecting with your listeners, getting them engaging with each other, sharing content and creating opportunities that build the bonds between you and those between their fellow listeners. So, the bottom line is that if you truly want to build a thriving community around your show, when you engage any and all of the above strategies, avoid self-promotion at all costs!
10. Focus on Authenticity
No matter which strategies you choose to use to strengthen your podcast community, this one is by far the most important – you need to be authentic. But not only do you need to be real and authentic in the way you interact with your listeners, you need to always put the focus on cultivating authentic relationships.
If you want the connections you forge through all of the above strategies to last, 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. Do this, and the relationships which form between you and your listeners will be ones built to last.
A strong podcast community helps to keep your listeners engaged and helps you cement your authority within your niche – a true win-win for all! But a thriving podcast community doesn’t just happen. They take time and require a workable plan.
There are things you need to do, over and above putting out high-quality episodes on a regular basis, to help foster that sense of belonging and lay the foundation upon which your podcast community can be built. But they all focus on creating opportunities for engagement between you and your listeners. And this is no mean feat! In short, it will not happen overnight. But, with consistent, diligent efforts, you will begin to see a special community rallying around you and your show. Apply these strategies and you’ll get to see some real podcasting magic taking place!
Want to hear some additional tips? Check out Episode 50 of the Ask We Edit Show! How Do I Build A Community Around My Podcast?