How to Build Community Around Your Private Podcast
Zoe Bell | Podcasting
In the wake of the global Coronavirus crisis, it’s more important than ever for employers to support a sense of community within the workforce. Not only are your employees working remotely, but many are experiencing significant stress due to social isolation and fears about what the future holds for their health and economic security.
Private podcasts are an effective tool for building community among remote workers. In addition to being a convenient platform for broadcasting important work-related information, the medium offers an opportunity for leaders to mix in all of the other things that workers bond over at the office: humor, personal anecdotes, conversation about current events and more. Indeed, any strong podcasting program should include different types of content.
In order to fully realize the potential of private podcasts in building community, employers should look to popular consumer podcasts. In addition to creating compelling content, the one thing most of them have in common is a recognition that what the listeners think and say matters. They provide spaces –– fan clubs, social media pages, guest appearances –– for fans to bond with each other as well as with the creators. Building a community around your private podcast is also one of the best ways to form a loyal listener base that will come back to your content engaged week after week.
Here are a number of ways that you can build community around your podcast and keep your audience engaged.
Give your community a platform
You want to encourage employees to talk to each other about your show(s). Many of our clients do this by creating separate Facebook pages or Slack channels for each show, thus providing an easy way for workers to provide input on the content. That may range from simple expressions of support to thoughtful criticism or requests for a certain guest or subject in future shows. Ideally the listeners will be providing the bulk of the commentary, but it’s good to have hosts help spark the conversation or respond to listener comments on these community platforms as well.
Foster relationships with your hosts
As is the case with successful radio shows or consumer podcasts, getting people to tune in regularly to a private podcast has a lot to do with their feeling a connection with the host. Having one or more regular hosts who they can relate to is key to cementing their loyalty to the podcast. A good host can make even the driest work-related subject more interesting.
It’s important to remember that there is not one kind of personality that works –– a good host might be funny, but he/she may also simply bond with employees by coming across as empathetic, friendly and understanding, particularly during tough times.
Hosts can bolster their relationship with listeners by engaging directly with them through the shared community platform (Slack) as well as by responding to listener questions that are submitted in writing or in live-streams.
Incorporate your employees
Give workers a seat at the table. Ask them what they want to hear about on the show and invite them to offer constructive criticism. The more that listeners feel that their opinion is valued, the more likely they are to feel that it's “their” show. This is what effective consumer podcast hosts do –– a good example comes from the popular So Money podcast, where host Farnoosh Torabi regularly asks listeners for questions to ask guests. They submit the questions via email or they can submit audio messages through the platform SpeakPipe, which allows the listener to hear their own voice on the show.
Finally, get employees on the show! In some cases, employees can provide relevant subject-matter expertise. In others, they may be on to discuss lighter workplace subjects (the upcoming company softball game, the office raffle). In either case, getting a variety of employees involved helps to make the podcast feel more accessible and community-oriented. Your workers will also be more excited to tune in to the new content and listen to their peers on air.
Live-Stream Podcasts and Community Events
While one of the benefits of podcasting is that listeners can access the content at any time, there are still advantages of hosting a live-stream event, even if some of the listeners may tune in afterwards. Having everybody gather virtually creates the water-cooler effect that is so key to an engaged workforce.
Live-streaming also offers the opportunity to recreate the call-in radio show atmosphere, where listeners can ask questions (perhaps through Slack) that hosts will respond to in real-time. This is particularly compelling when there is a subject-matter expert being featured who employees might not always have the opportunity to engage with. Not only will working towards forming a community around your private podcast benefit the health and engagement of your shows, it will benefit your company culture as a whole as well.
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