While attending Podcast Movement this summer, I will never forget the words of Podcast Answer Man, Cliff Ravenscraft. During his session on building deeper relationships with your audience, he said, “until you know the value of one listener, you will never know the value of 1000.” Many podcasters mistakenly equate “downloads” with listeners. A download means that someone, somewhere clicked on a podcast episode. Whether it played for 20 seconds or 20 minutes, it counts. But this is not a listener. This isn’t someone in your tribe.
I often equate brand building with church building. Churches grow by consistently serving the spiritual needs of their flock, not by touting the number of parishioners who showed up on a Sunday. Likewise, if you are building a faith-based platform, or any platform for that matter, you have to be willing to serve the deeper needs of your audience.
The return on investment for churches is faithful attendees, members who volunteer their time and resources, and the all-important “evangelist” who spreads the gospel far and wide. Likewise, investing in the needs of your audience can yield similar dividends: faithful listeners, audience members who volunteer their services to help you grow, and satisfied listeners who tweet, tag, share, and repost your content.
The question is, how?
Content Specific Opt-Ins: Although I start most of my podcasts with a guiding thought/quote from scripture, I don’t do a deep dive into the biblical aspects. Instead, I use that quote as a framework to situate my content. However, in order to provide additional, spiritual value for the listener beyond the podcast episode, I sometimes offer a content specific opt-in. If you’re trying to grow your flock, issue a call to action during your episode that leads listeners to a landing page or opt-in that will allow them to download bonuses like life application tips, checklists, daily devotions, etc. related to your podcast. Not only does it extend the value of your episode, but the size of your audience.
Live Interaction: If the format of your podcast isn’t setup to connect spiritually with your audience, then take your show “on the road”. The day my podcast airs, I host a 20-30 minute bible study on Periscope that same evening. Periscope, the live streaming app that has taken the world by storm, allows your audience to see you, interact with you, and connect with you in a way that podcasting doesn’t allow. It also allows you to attract NEW subscribers to your podcast because Periscope broadcasts to a global audience. As such, be sure to let your viewers know how they can find your podcast and the next time you’ll be on air.
Online Community: It’s an oldie but goodie. Facebook groups can be an effective means of engaging your listeners off the air. Many podcasters use Facebook groups to build rapport with like-minded listeners, find out what their needs are, use their questions to develop content for their shows, and create a culture of support for one another. Serving the needs of an online community is also a great way to grow your subscriber base, and connect with potential brand ambassadors (think of them as Facebook Deacons) to help you manage the group.
If your goal is to have meaningful engagement with your listeners, don’t think of them as downloaders, but real people, with real needs, and a real desire to connect. Can I get an Amen?
Dr. Shante’ Bishop is the host of Branding for Believers Podcast where she encourages listeners to Believe Bigger in their dreams.