The Podcaster-Audience Relationship
Why is it that podcasts feel intimate in a way that other forms of media don’t? Some say it has to do with choice. People decide what content they want to listen to. They search for podcasts they think they’d like and can choose to buy into either an entire podcast or a single episode.
This automatically gives the listener a closer connection with the podcast because the content means something to them. They searched for podcasts about knitting, cooking, camping, Hollywood gossip, true crime or whatever else they wanted. And you filled their need for information or entertainment.
But there’s another reason podcasts have increased intimacy. People listen to the radio in the office with co-workers or watch TV in their living rooms where family members or roommates can easily walk in and join.
Podcasts, on the other hand, are usually consumed in solitude.
You listen at the gym, on your commute, in your own private world, with the podcaster’s voice often reaching you through headphones, speaking directly to your head as if the two of you are having your own, mental conversation.
This reality created a phrase used by podcasters called the “intimacy effect.” It’s similar to the immediacy that’s kept audiences attending the theater when TV shows and movies are being pumped out at unprecedented rates and quality levels. Building intimacy with your audience increases the likelihood that they’ll continue listening to your show, but it also makes them more likely to buy into ads you promote on your podcast.
So How Can You Connect with Your Audience?
Know Your Audience
“Audience” is a vague word. It means something different for everyone, and if you’re going to be serious about podcasting, it should mean something unique for you, too. Before you start your podcast, you should think about your target demographic, or customer persona. How old are your listeners? Where do they live? What are their hobbies? Where do they get their news?
All this sounds a little stalker-y, but it’s vital that you keep your audience in mind whenever you get ready to write and record a new episode. You can even create a customer persona sheet to help keep yourself focused on who you’re trying to reach with your podcast.
Keep Them Hooked
It sounds obvious, but you can’t build a connection with a bored audience. And audiences get bored quickly. How quickly? NPR’s Nick DePrey conducted a study that showed most podcast episodes lose 20-35 percent of the listening audience in the first five minutes. With that in mind, make sure your first five minutes aren’t just fluff. Introduce the main topic early so your listeners know what exciting thing is coming, even if they have to listen to a few announcements before they get there.
Talk To Them!
There are dozens of ways to talk to your listeners. You can engage with them on social media, ask them to submit questions or thoughts to your official, podcast email, or address them directly in your episodes. Giving your listeners a chance to join the conversation helps them feel like they know you and are a participant in your show. That’s the kind of feeling that builds the loyal following you’re looking for.
If you’re starting your own podcast, use this podcaster-listener intimacy to your advantage. If your audience likes your content, then you already have things in common. Treat them like friends. Speak to them directly. You’ll create that intimate feel that keeps listeners coming back and sharing your show with their friends.