Many podcast hosts do not know how to grow their podcast audience. One method is by growing a community of listeners or people that have an interest in their podcast topic. An advantage of building a community is they create a better podcast and grow the podcast. To grow a community, a host can use the same resources that they use to grow their podcast or the content of the podcast. The community can lead to benefits a host would not be able to get by only hosting the podcast. But some problems may occur when building a community.
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How to Grow a Community
Use social media by creating social media accounts for the community. Post content from the community on social media. This shows other social media users the type of content they could see in the community.
Find people on social media to join the community. A host can search for people that create content that relates to the community. Some people might have the community's subject in their description. Engage with them from the community account. Engage by liking their content, sharing their content, and following them.
The email list can receive anything related to the podcast. A host can email the list inviting them to the community. The members of the email list are already above average fans of the podcast. They are more likely to join than people on social media. Hosts can add a small note to the end of emails to notify the email list about the community.
A host can write content about the podcast's subject matter to find people. Different people will see the written content and join the community. Writing articles can attract people from different communities with different interests. A host can summarize the podcast episodes and release them as articles.
At the same time, the written content is more likely to go viral than full-length podcast episodes. Meaning more people are likely to see the articles and join the community. It is easier to share written content with people because people do not need a specific app to read a blog post.
To grow the Open Podcast Community, I could write about podcasting. Then, sharing the articles in indie maker communities.
Interact with People from Other Platforms
Members of communities can join more than one community. Helping in other communities might lead community members to join a host's community. A host can help by answering their questions related to the podcast's subject. A host can extend an invite after answering a question.
Filling out the profile on other communities helps bring people to a host's community. Putting a link to the community in their profile is one option. If anyone in the other communities has an interest, they can join the host's community.
To grow the Open Podcast Community, I join different bootstrapping or side project forums. I answer questions anyone has about podcasting.
When people view the community, they may not be willing to join if there is little activity in the community. Creating interactions in the community can lead people to join the community. How a host can create interactions is by posting links to articles in the community. Another option is asking questions to current members. Everyone will reach a milestone, a host can give members a space to discuss them. Same with welcoming new members that join the community too.
Providing value to the community that gives them a reason to contribute to the community. Members that find value will spread the word about the community. How can a host provide value to members of the community? Make sure their posts in the community get engagement by commenting. Pointing them in a direction to get an answer. Some members might have a problem that is difficult to solve through text. A host can provide value by creating a video walk-through that can show how to solve their problem. A host can promote community member's content to get more visibility. The content will get more views on the community's social media accounts. Posting the content within the community will help get more views.
Benefits of A Community
Get Feedback from Listeners
Creating a community gives a host a direct line of communication to the listeners of the podcast. The direct line of communication makes getting feedback on the podcast easier. The listeners can make suggestions to the host about content or quality in the community. Listeners' feedback improves the experience of listening to the podcast. Which can make listeners more loyal to the podcast.
Producing a podcast can be difficult at times. Sometimes a host might struggle to work on the podcast and want to quit. Having a community might give a host a sense of accountability. The host is building relationships with their audience. A host will not want to disappoint listeners.
Problems that may occur
If the community is open to the public, there is a chance people will join the community to add spam. There are a few tactics a host can use to deal with spam. The first is making it easy for members of the community to report spam. Next, a host can give active members of the community the ability to delete spam. This tactic gets rid of spam as soon as possible. Providing the host with one less problem to worry about. Finally, the host can add a paywall to the community. Adding a paywall to the community adds another step for the spammers to join the community. Many spammers will not pay to spam a community. Adding a discount code is a workaround for real members to join the community for free.
Some people may join, but they hardly take part in discussions. Instead, they only read discussions. Lurkers do not hurt the community, but it would be better if they were active. What can a host do to get lurkers to take part? The first idea to get lurkers to take part is to start creating recurring posts. Lurkers do not take part because they feel they do not have anything to contribute to the community. A recurring post provides lurkers with examples of content they can share. For instance, A host could create a monthly milestone post. Each time a lurker hits a milestone, then they can share that content in the community. Other examples of recurring posts are welcoming new members each month. Asking about any problems members are having. Having members promote their content in a thread.
For the Open Podcast Community, the members share downloads numbers for their podcast. Either total downloads or single episodes.
Another idea for lurkers, which is a bit of a gray area, is gamification. Gamification would be giving members rewards for creating posts or commenting. Members would want to post to get the badges added to their profile. Why gamification is a gray area is because the members develop behaviors. Gamification may cause members of the community to become addicted to earning badges.
If a host can see lurkers, an excellent way to have them take part is to address them. Ask them a question, this goes back to the fact that some may feel they have nothing to add. By asking them that is giving them something to add.
People Do Not Like the Platform
People might not like the platform that hosts the community. Then, not join the community for that reason. There is not much a host can do about this problem. Not everyone has to be a member of the community. Move on, do not chase them, there are other people that are willing to join.
The same goes for people that sign up and do not come back. If there is a point where the community has so many accounts, its cost will go up. Do not be afraid to delete these accounts to save money.
Difficult to Get Organic Interactions with Small Amount of Members
A community with a small number of members will have a small amount of interactions. In the beginning, getting the members to interact with each other may take effort. A host can overcome this problem by looking for members that have similar interests. Connecting those members together on the platform. A host can connect the members. Tagging members with related content in the welcome posts will connect them.
Some comedians create a premium community for their fans to interact. The membership might include exclusive access to content and a forum. Some comedians give discounts on tickets to their shows.
A similar course of action a host can take is offering discounts to members. When a host has a product, an ebook, or other types of products. They can give a discount to premium members of the community. Even if the discount is 10%.
How to Create a Community
There are varying amounts of difficulty when creating a community. A host can build a community on a platform. Creating their own platform to host the community is another option. The difference is the amount of control the host will have on the community.
Building a community can be another project on its own. But, by making a community for a podcast, the community can improve the podcast's quality. At the same time, Create better relationships with people online and give support when needed.
This post is an excerpt from the Open Podcast Community book. The book is available for purchase here.