It’s no secret that podcasts are having a major moment right now, with more than 1.6 million Australians now downloading podcast content at least monthly.
Podcasts are partly popular because they allow us to multitask. Unlike blogs and videos, you can consume podcasts while driving, exercising or cleaning. But there is something intimate about the relationship between podcasters and their audiences. Unlike watching TV or going to the movies, which are often social activities, we listen to podcasts alone.
When a podcast is really good, we want to talk about it, preferably with people who also love it.
This has created the phenomenon of online podcast fan communities, where listeners flock to discuss the latest episode – and a whole lot more.
Podcast communities tend to cluster around a few key themes. In Australia, women’s lifestyle is a major popular category for Facebook groups built around podcasts. Groups such as Chat 10 Looks 3, Life Uncut Discussion Group and the Bobo & Flex Show have tens of thousands of fans sharing intimate conversations in a “private” group setting.
Crime is another hot topic, with podcasts such as The Night Driver amassing more than 1,000 members to their official Facebook group in less than a month. Casefile, another crime podcast, has a community of almost 20,000 fans eager to debrief after each grisly episode, and share the latest crime news and book recommendations.
Looking for a new podcast? Podcasts We Listen To might have the answer — and yes, they also have a podcast of their own!
Groups about podcasting
If you’re a podcaster yourself, you might be after specific communities and groups designed for audio content creators. One of the largest is hosted on Reddit at r/podcasting. The Podcast Movement is associated with the association of the same name, while Australian Podcasters is aimed at local podcast makers.
If you’re looking for guests to feature on your podcast, or you’re an interesting guest looking to appear on a podcast, Podcast Guest Collaboration aims to spark and nurture the relationship.
Governance for podcast communities
While an online community for your podcast is a great way to build hype and encourage loyalty, it does come with its own set of challenges.
Before you get excited and hit ‘publish’ on your new group, spend some time planning how your community will operate. Work you put in at the start is likely to prevent a bunch of problems down the line. You’ll need to consider:
Access – how will people join your community? Will you ask vetting questions to ensure that people seeking membership are genuine fans and not bots, trolls or detractors?
Privacy – What privacy levels will you set for your community? Will people outside the group be able to see posts? How will you handle breaches of privacy by members of the community?
Moderation – Who will supply 24/7 moderation and oversight for the community, to keep ahead of legal risks, trolling and poor behaviour? Will you require each post to be approved before appearing (pre-moderation) or allow members to post freely? How will moderators be recruited, and trained? Will they be paid, or will you be relying on volunteers? Podcast hosts can face particular pressure to act in dual roles as host and moderator — appointing independent moderators can help alleviate this pressure.
Guidelines – Most effective communities require governance, or ‘rules of the road’. Have a think about how you will manage issues like self-promotion, messaging other members, personal attacks and off-topic posts. Develop your rules before launching the group and regularly review them. On Facebook, you can request that new users agree to the rules before joining, and include them in your sign-up page: we recommend you use this feature.
Rituals – Think about regular features or rituals you might embed within your podcast group to help embed a sense of community and encourage participation. This might be a show and tell day for people to spruik their work, a regular ‘ask me anything’ session or a dedicated post to welcoming new members.
When done well, podcast groups can deepen relationships between hosts and listeners and lead to increased loyalty and monetisation opportunities like events and merchandise ranges — not to mention all those warm and fuzzy moments that happen when like-minded people get together in a shared online space. You’ll know your community is a success when you’ve got a solid group of members who are comfortable responding to posts and making their own, too. Word of mouth is one of the most popular ways for groups to grow, so encourage members to invite a friend.
Need help with your online community strategy or moderation? As Australia’s community specialists, Quiip can help you maximise engagement and minimise risk at every stage. Contact us at quiip.com.au to find out more.