Podcasts have exploded over the last five years and you can find one on just about any subject and genre; from politics and sports to social commentaries, sex, pop culture, and business to crime stories (raise your hand if you binged listened to Serial two years ago? I know I was hooked). The great thing about podcasting is just about anyone can do it.
If you have internet access, a microphone, passionate opinions and are a great story teller you too can host a podcast. You do not have to be a celebrity, a journalist or comedian to host your own podcast but you will need to attract listeners and keep them engaged. A successful podcaster needs to build a strong podcast community. A podcast community will establish your base listeners, enhance audience engagement and grow your audience.
Here are a few tips on developing your podcast community.
1. Be Authentic
There are hundreds of podcasts out there to listen to and what you can’t do is try to be a carbon copy of someone else, listeners connect to authenticity. Speak in your own voice and use your own experiences. One of my favorite podcasts is The Read, the two host give their hilarious commentary on pop culture and social issues and although both of them are equally hilarious one of the main reasons I tune in every week is because Crissle West. West has the best laugh I have ever heard on any medium. I connect with her laughter on such a personal level, she laughs like one of my best girlfriends who I prep with material to get the same kind of laugh out of her. It is the deep from the gut throw your head back kind of laugh, well that is what I picture her doing as my friend does, and I laugh harder every time I hear her. Your listeners want to feel something from you that connects them to who you are. If they feel they know you and hear your authentic voice they will keep coming back to your podcast. Be exactly who you are when you are speaking with your besties, matter of fact treat your listeners like they are your besties!
2. Know Your Listener
Your listeners are your community and although they may be invisible to the eye you will see them clearly by engagement numbers. You need to know your listeners, understand them, and have relatable experiences with them. As you build your platform ask yourself who you are trying to reach. How old is your listener, what are their goals, will your content have value for them? Research your target audience in the same way you’d research your target customer for a business. Take some time and create your Ideal Podcast Listener.
3. Prep Well
Create great content for your community. It might be tempting to just wing it and just randomly talk about your interest but don’t. Have a vision for each podcast you put out into the universe. Take notes. Your community wants to trust you are giving your best effort on your show. I’m not saying write out your whole program but write out key points and stories you want to discuss. You want to make the time your listeners spend on your podcast not only entertaining but informational as well. Create regular segments for talking points it will help the flow of your podcast, keep you on track, and stop you from unnecessary ramblings.
4. Social Media Engagement
Using social media, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, are paramount in developing a relationship with your podcast listeners. I would suggest before even starting your podcast, especially if you are not a celebrity and do not have sponsors, growing your community via social media first. Whatever your content is you can develop a good base using Facebook groups, blogging and Twitter. If you are podcasting about crazy first dates tell some of those stories on Facebook first, invite your friends and encourage them to invite their friends to tell similar stories, and ask engaging questions. Invite your future listeners to tell their stories and with permission ask them if you could use their stories on your podcast. Many of the podcasts I follow ask listeners to submit questions and stories on Facebook and Twitter. Podcasts can be like old school radio when you would wait to hear a DJ shout out your name it may sound vain but it will be something your listener will look forward to and engaging in those mediums will grow your base.
5. Be Active Off The Mic
Create a social event based around your content. If your podcast is about your new vegan lifestyle offer to speak at a community organization in your town about the importance of eating green. If you host a podcast on your non-existent dating pool, try partnering with a local bar and host a singles night. Check out upcoming events in your area and volunteer your services just to get your name, face and voice out there. You will get local followers but in time as your podcast grow you will get people flying in from out of town to hear you live.
Growing your podcast audience will not happen over night but cultivating your community will grow it stronger.