What's the first thing that comes to mind when out think about building a community? If your mind immediately went to the digital properties you've created to build out and leverage a community for your show; you're showing a common flaw in the language we use when we talk about communities.
There's a better word for the people in those properties who listen to or otherwise consume your content: your audience.
And while I agree with the importance and support your desire to grow your audience, I also suggest you not neglect actual community building. And by that, I mean the community or communities in which you and your podcast live.
Community building, in this context, means you and your podcast playing an active role in helping build out or support the community in which you and your podcast belong.
Community Building Is Good For You And Your Community
We podcasters naturally fixate on our community. The one we've purposely built around our show. But we don't podcast in a vacuum. No podcaster is an island. It takes a village. Or choose your preferred aphorism and take a wider view.
Yes, it's possible getting more involved in other communities in which you are part might garner you a new listener or two. But that is not the primary goal of community building. Not as I am speaking of it now.
How much more business do you think that bar & grill on the corner sees because they've sponsored your kid's little league team? I'm sure they get some. But it's unlikely that anyone is going to become a thrice-weekly diner of the establishment just because they saw the restaurant's logo on the kids' ball caps.
The reason the owner of the bar & grill sponsors your kid's little league team is because they're part of the community. And when the community thrives, they thrive. Not just professionally, but also personally. Because they are part of that community.
So are you.
With that, here are three areas for community building to focus on as you start the process of community building with but beyond your podcast.
Get Involved With Your Local Communities
Community building starts right outside your door. Yes, I realize your podcast may not speak specifically to the area in which you live. And I know you also have listeners from all around the globe.
But that's also true of many of the businesses in your community. Not every business draws customers directly from the local community. Yet many businesses still remain active in local community-building efforts.
The people within a five-kilometer radius of where you podcast from may not be the audience of your show, but you still have to live with—or at least around—them! Getting involved in your local community shows that you and your podcast are active members of your local community.
I'm not suggesting you set up a recording booth at your local farmer's market. I am, however, suggesting that you play an active role and at least attend local community organization meetings, business mixers, and OK, sure; why not have your podcast sponsor a local little league team for a couple hundred bucks per season? It's not like it's a massive investment. And it is quite the conversation starter.
Get Involved In Podcasting Communities
The overall podcasting community is rather large, and you probably could get more involved. And we could probably use more of your support and involvement if you have time to give.
Yes, it costs quite a bit to travel to and attend podcasting conferences, a prospect I'm cautiously optimistic might actually happen this year? (Fingers crossed and mask-on.) I often see many eager beavers at those conferences trying to drum up listeners to their show. They're kind of missing the point. The best reason for attending these things is becoming part of the scene. That's hugely valuable!
But you don't have to wait for annual conferences to get involved in one or more podcasting communities. There are several vibrant and active online communities you can join. Again, not to rake in new listeners, but to support all of podcasting.
You can work with people like the Bello Collective, curate for Earbuds Collective, join The Podcast Academy, or become an active member of any number of groups that exist to support, spread, or empower the people who make podcasts.
The podcast community is rich, energetic, and pervasive. It's everywhere. So pick a corner and start making your mark.
Get Involved In Your Trade/Industry Communities
And finally, don't forget the communities in and around the trade or the industry in which you and your podcast belong. Just about every industry or trade group out there has governing bodies or other special interest groups that put on mixers, create publications, host trade shows, and more.
Seek out those opportunities. See how you and your podcast can become more involved with your industry's groups, showing others in your trade or industry that podcasting is also a part of that trade or industry. That can often create the opportunity for interesting collaborations down the road. And it helps elevate your status within the industry that you've chosen to be a part of. That's itself will give you more access, more prestige, and yes, probably more interested listeners.
Podcasters tend to know the importance of community building, but all too often take too narrow of a view. Hopefully, this higher-level picture of how you and your podcast can get involved with the communities in your orbit might be helpful.
I shall be back tomorrow with yet another Podcast Pontifications.