It’s 2024—it’s time to let your dated notion of community podcasts go.
The concept of a 'community building podcast' has taken on a new dimension. It's no longer about isolated talks on the topic. It's about integrating listener feedback and building a shared space of engagement.
A community is key to creating a dedicated following. If you’re not dipping your toes into building one, then now’s the time to reconsider. But where do you start?
In this guide, we’ll cover everything hosts and creators need to know to build a thriving podcast community. Learn about high-yield benefits to community-building, plus tips from top podcasters.
Disclaimer: Just so you know, we're not promising screaming fans or skyrocketing engagement rates (yet). Instead, we're focusing on achievable, practical steps to cultivate a loyal podcast community.
Let’s jump right into it.
A podcast community is a group of engaged listeners and fans rallying around your show.
This community interacts with the show and with each other, creating a hub of discussion, feedback and camaraderie centered on the podcast’s content and hosts.
An active community improves fan relations, helps with word-of-mouth promotions, and ultimately, offers a space for listeners to connect over their shared interest in the topic.
If you integrate your podcast community into your show, it becomes a community podcast. More on what this integration looks like later.
You might think podcasting is just about hitting 'record', but there's more – planning, scripting, editing, and the unseen hustle. Then, you face the real challenge of finding (and keeping) an audience in the saturated podcast industry.
Here's the solution: Building a community around your podcast can break this cycle.
To tell you the truth, community building is not just about accumulating a bunch of listeners. It's about creating an avenue where they can come together, exchange insights on your show, and help each other out.
A podcast community becomes your sounding board, your support system, and yes, a significant boost to your podcast's growth.
There are four common reasons why podcasters create these communities.
An engaged community stabilizes your listener base. These fans become up to date with new releases and keep tuning in.
Your community functions as a built-in focus group. Listen to them to get show ideas, topic requests and reactions to help improve each episode. That’s how you integrate your community into your show.
A community shares exciting episodes, fuels word of mouth and helps recruit new listeners. More listeners means more reviews. The cycle repeats!
An engaged community presents opportunities to test paid models like memberships and merch. You can also partner with sponsors who want access to your show’s devoted audience.
The takeaway? Don’t underestimate the power of community.
To evolve your show into a community podcast, you’ve got to nurture a two-way conversation. It requires using your platform, connecting beyond episodes and actively involving your audience.
Community building tactics fall into three buckets.
Conduct community building within your episodes. Respond to questions from listeners, have a listener-related segment, or feature fan submissions.
A community building podcast thrives in the time between episodes. Chat and post on social media, send newsletter updates, and comment on feedback.
If you've got the bandwidth, consider launching a companion community hub. This can be a Facebook group, subreddit or Discord server for deeper discussions.
These tactics each serve a unique function, and all are arguably important. A community podcast tends to use one or more for best results.
Ready to turn your plain ‘ole show into a community podcast? Here are proven tips to foster a community that sticks.
Hate to break it to you, but popping in sporadically won’t cut it.
Create regular touchpoints that keep your community involved. After all, who wants to listen to someone who disappears after one post?
You can think of community engagement like it’s relationship building. A romance is not going to sail after one or two measly dates. If you want to make it work, you’d engage day in and day out—and do it with thought and tact.
The dawn of heart eye emojis, meek thanks, and one-word comments are behind us. If you’re going to engage, you need to share something of value.
Protip: Need help with the consistency bit? Get 10+ pieces of done-for-you content, in a click.
An Arm and A Leg is a community podcast that shares the cost of healthcare in a more optimistic way. On top of their podcast, they have email newsletters that push out value-add content.
The beauty of email newsletters is they usually publish in a regular cadence. This can be daily, once a week, it’s really up to you and what’s realistic for your sched.
A community podcast thrives in a respectful, inclusive environment. Establish clear conduct guidelines to keep your community a safe space.
Define your community’s values and what you consider acceptable conduct. Setting guidelines early prevents headaches down the road.
Common rules of conduct include:
“[Indiepod] exists to provide a safe space for podcasters to make connections and get the help and encouragement they need to grow their podcasts without the icky sales posts, unreliable information, and post-and-ghost behaviours you see in some other groups,” their intro reads.
This is a great explanation of what groups without guidelines end up becoming. You know the type—almost every single post is selling something, no one’s engaging, all the blegh.
IndiePod sees to it this doesn’t happen with an entire section on community guidelines. They even have tech tips to help you get the most out of the platform.
Protip: Enforcing these rules is just as important. That’s why IndiePod has a community manager, tasked with monitoring community activity.
Exclusive content is a powerful tool in community podcasts. It's a way of thanking your community for their continued support. It also incentivizes them to stay subscribed and engaged.
Reward your community with thoughtful features, consultation calls, and more. The sky's the limit with these things! These exclusive touches make fans feel valued.
Normal Gossip is a community podcast all about juicy, strange, and banal gossip. If you’re a paid subscriber, you get access to extra “subscriber episodes” each month.
Subscribers also get live staff Q&A, access to unlimited blogs, and a daily newsletter. They even get access to the Close Friends Instagram Stories, where BTS content and more juicy details are revealed. Subscribers get discounts to merchandise and live events, too.
Normal Gossip has two paid subscription tiers: Friend-of-a-Friend for $5 a month and Friend for $12 a month. Friend-of-a-Friends get limited access, while Friends get all the juicy exclusive content.
In a community building podcast, spotlighting members and their contributions is vital. It not only enhances engagement but also fosters a sense of ownership and pride among your listeners.
Spotlight members who go above and beyond to support your podcast. Feature their stories or discussions on air or in your community. You’d be surprised how many stories are worth sharing.
Crime Junkie is a community building podcast focused on crime. Their approach makes it feel a lot like you’re sitting around talking about crime with your best friends.
At the end of an episode, the hosts usually have a segment called ‘The Good’. Here, listeners share stories about how Crime Junkie impacted their lives.
One submission talks about how the show and its community inspired a new nonprofit. Another said the podcast helped her stepdaughter leave an abusive relationship. It’s the perfect way to end on a good note after a heavy topic.
Listeners contribute via website.
Collaborations can expand the horizons of your community podcast.
By partnering with like-minded podcasters, you introduce your community to new ideas and perspectives, enriching their experience. You could even grow your community through this method.
Podship Earth is a community podcast about the fight for a livable planet. Each week, they interview actors, advocates, and activists that help bring about change.
Every guest has their own website page with links to their podcast and previous talks. One can expect some would promote the episode they guested in to their own circles. This simple act could grant you new community members.
Remember that Rome wasn't built in a day. Turning your podcast into a community podcast? That requires consistency, engagement and valuable content. With these tips in mind, you're one brick closer to building up your community.
If you want help engaging your community, get 10+ pieces of content to go, free.
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