The old “notice me, Senpai!” trope is as true as ever, particularly at a time when technology helps fans of all ages feel even more connected to their favorite content creators than ever before. Whether online or in-person, engaging your audience is critical.
All people really want is to be seen and understood (particularly by those they admire or idolize – hint, hint). So why not incorporate that added spark into your podcast to provide a truly engaging experience that transcends the limits of a handheld device?
You may be missing out if you don’t, and your audience retention stats will pay the price. Because nowadays, engaging your audience is more important than attracting new listeners that may not stick around. In fact, in the competitive environment that resulted from the pandemic, engagement may be the only thing keeping your listeners.
So what should you do?
1 – Single Your Listeners Out (In a Good Way)
Shouts outs and audience mentions during a stream or live taping are important parts of the interactive podcast experience. But keep the interactions too superficial and you’ll miss out on great opportunities to engage your listeners one-on-one. Instead, go deeper! If you have live chat capabilities during your tapings, give some air-time to the best comments.
Designate a section of the show to chat and interact with your listeners about common-interest topics that they voted on the day before, either on the show itself or on social media. But a word to the wise: always have some basic rules in place to moderate the host-viewer relationship and enforce them to keep your show from getting hijacked by overzealous or disruptive audience members.
2 – Know Your Audience and Become a Feedback Fanatic
Most podcast hosting platforms will give you audience statistics on your listeners such as demographic information or usage activity. Depending on how detailed these dashboards are, you can get some pretty good insights into your audience. Who members are, what they love about your podcast, and how they prefer to interact with your content, for example.
Then go on your socials and drop surveys they can answer or vote on for live feedback straight from the horses’ (audience’s?) mouth. Since podcast listeners are much more active on social media channels than the average population, it’s an excellent tool for keeping a pulse on what makes your fanbase tick.
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With this knowledge in hand, give them more of what they want, but be intentional about it! Thank individual contributors for their suggestions and tell the group about how you're making the podcast better every day.
3 – Keep Their Eyes on the Prize(s)
Over 61% of customers believe that surprise gifts and offers are the best way to engage customers. That is, as long as the gifts (both material and immaterial) you’re offering match what your audience is craving.
Do you think your fans would lose their minds if you recorded custom ringtones for a lucky few? Or would an Amazon gift card hit the spot? Better yet, do you have sponsors that would send some of their wares to a select number of your listeners?
Only time will tell, but the hunt for good prizes can be content gold to keep everyone on their toes. Even you!
4 – Brag and Blog About It
A blog filled with stories of your achievements from best episodes is a fantastic way to give fans (and search engines) more ways to interact with your content.
Blog posts are also great for SEO and offer a more permanent way to announce contest winners and introduce sponsors, so get to writing if you can! If not, consider using an online service to get your podcasts’ audio transformed into ready-to-publish blog posts that will keep you at the top of everyone’s searches.
So if you were looking for ways to give your podcast 4th wall-breaking engagement abilities, give these suggestions a shot. We promise you -or that groovy sweater- won’t regret it!
For even more ways to stay engaged with your audience, check out The Podcast Host Academy. In there, you can chat with us via our weekly live Q&A sessions, discussing anything from engaging your audience, to mics, editing software, and publishing. It's not only a great place to get feedback, advice, and encouragement – you'll find a raft of courses, checklists, tools, and downloadable templates in there too!