As part of our series on podcaster communities we spoke to 11 different individuals who help run active communities both online and offline in different parts of the world. Our aim was to both understand the motivations and challenges of organizers better, as well as highlight the great work these organizers are doing, share their journeys and celebrate their accomplishments. In these interviews, we deepened our learnings about some incredible communities and their knowledge which we’re excited to share.
The organizers who took part in this study were:
Mark Deal – Podcast Atlanta
Bernie J Mitchell – London Podcasting Community
Pato Lopardo – Union Podcastera
Colin Gray – The Scottish Podcaster’s Meetup
Jeremy Enns – Cut the BS Podcasting
Aaron Weinbaum – Podcasting Made Simple
Victoria Turnbull – Mic
Tracy Tsang – Podcaster Society HK Meetup
Chris Holifield – Geography based podcasts
Joe Lewis – Brisbane Podcasters
Jillian Beytin – Berlin Podcasting
The two platforms that dominate: Meetup and Facebook
When it came to the choice of platform for their communities all but one respondent used either Facebook or Meetup (or a mix of both) as the main “home” for their community. The one exception was Pato Lopardo and Union Podcastera who favor Telegram as their communication channel, a platform that has gained traction in recent years particularly in Spanish speaking countries.
Overall, organizers generally agreed that Meetup excelled in event discovery by attendees, but Facebook was more appropriate for group discussion.
Joe Lewis from Brisbane podcasters uses both platforms for event listings:
“I feel like we get a lot of RSVPs from meetup but those people aren’t as likely to show up than those who find out about our event on Facebook. Meetup attendees are notoriously flakey”.
Why organizers run these groups: a mix of business and pleasure
When asked why they became involved in the organizing of these communities, the motivations given were predominantly a mix of both altruistic and professional reasons.
In Jeremy Enns’ case, he initially started his group with professional incentives but it quickly evolved into something he does for the greater podcaster community:
“Initially when I started the group I was hoping to eventually funnel people into my production business. However I quickly realised that the people who were most likely to engage in the group would never become clients but at that point I was having so much fun with it, I decided it was worth doing in its own right.”
Jeremy Enns – Cut the BS podcasting
There’s a wide range of demographics and interests
Reflecting the diversity in topics that podcasting addresses, all respondents answered that their groups covered a wide range in niches.
“We have members who have podcasts about everything. There’s no cohesive theme”.
(Joe lewis – Brisbane Podcasters)
Gender-wise, all groups bar two were skewed towards a male audience. Mark Deal who runs the Atlanta podcast meetup makes a concerted effort to ensure that meetups are as diverse as possible, seeking out diverse speakers using his access at national podcast levels to seek out opportunities for speakers from less represented backgrounds.
Jeremy Enns describes his Facebook group as:
“Less about business podcasts than other groups. It’s a hobby, fun thing for the people who are most active. There’s less of a focus on monetizing and using podcasting to build your own business as in other groups. I think it’s partly the vibe I established that drew a lot more of creative types. I was more keen on just building community than tactical advice and the same topics discussed elsewhere around monetization. Talking about topics outside of that naturally engaged people who were in the background in other groups.”
Tracy Tsang on the other hand says that her Hong Kong meetup group is:
“one of the few which is predominantly female and has a skew towards arts and culture content.”
Communities attract all levels of podcasters
The overall consensus was that the communities attracted a wide range of podcasters at different stages from podcurious to expert level. In several instances with groups meeting in person, organizers described an 80/20 split between novice podcasters attending for the first time and regulars who were at a more advanced stage. This sometimes presented a challenge to provide relevant programming to both audiences.
Communities work well with sponsors
All organizers described their involvement with sponsors as a positive experience on the whole. There were some minor exceptions though.
“dealing with companies that are relatively new to podcasting that wanted to make an immediate impact on the market can be challenging – a couple of these sponsors don’t last for the long term.”
Mark Deal – Podcast Atlanta
Organizers have challenges
We asked the organizers to rate six potential challenges which on average were ranked as follows, in order of a magnitude:
Community Activation and Engagement
Time commitment as an organizer
Long term sustainability of the group
Over promotion by members
Bernie Mitchell who helps run the London Podcast Community also added that it can be difficult “trying to figure out people to have come and speak to a small group without wanting to sell something. There’s so many people who are teaching podcasting. “
Communities are full of success stories
Organizers described how offline communities have facilitated people in finding jobs to make a living from podcasting, find their co-hosts and share their voice with others. Pato from Union Podcastera describes how his group helped a new, younger member, by giving him real time support and help with launching his podcast successfully. This made the other members feel like proud parents.
Final words of advice
Many organizers emphasized that making in person meetups participatory worked well, particularly for small to medium sized groups.
“Having a structure made a difference – we would have a catch up (socials) but that would include a 5 minute share – which would go on the meetup description. That gave it a lot more direction – it also seemed to boost attendance – the feedback was that attendees really enjoyed this”.
Colin Gray – Scottish Podcasters meetup
”At the end of our meetups, we usually have 3 speakers where I always give people the opportunity to come up and talk about a project – at the end of the event, they’re able to do matchmaking, etc. It’s a really good idea to give people the platform”.
Jillian Beytin – Berlin Podcasting
This concludes our two part series on podcaster communities. If you have participated in any great meetups or online communities that stood out, let us know in the comments below!