Interaction often sets podcasting apart from traditional media. Podcast listeners have learned that hosts are generally responsive and feedback is often included. But do you need to interact in order to have a successful podcast?
Marketers are always talking about the importance of building your email list. Many will even cite their list (usually a very big one) as being the source for millions of dollars in sales. Do you really need an email list for you podcast?
Challenging the Podcasting Assumptions
This is a special miniseries to challenge the ideas podcasters have accepted as truth for years. Some will stand up against the challenge while others crumble, and some will reveal new options you may have never considered.
- Are you really a “podcaster” and should you really be podcasting? – TAP182
- Does your podcast NEED interaction or an email list? – TAP181
- Is iTunes really THE place for podcasts? Do you NEED a mobile app? – TAP180
- Does SEO really matter in podcasting? – TAP179
- Do you REALLY need to edit your podcasts? What about authenticity? – TAP178
- Do you REALLY need audio/visual branding or promos for your podcast? – TAP177
- Should you launch your podcast with Episode 0? Does iTunes New and Noteworthy REALLY matter? – TAP176
- Are episode numbers REALLY necessary? – TAP175
- Does audio/video quality ACTUALLY matter? Is a dynamic mic REALLY the best? – TAP174
- Do you REALLY need passion? Is consistency THAT important? – TAP173
Do you need to interact with your audience?
I used to use the acronym “POD” to describe what your podcast needs: passion, organization, and dialog. But is it really that important to interact with the people watching or viewing your content?
This topic was suggested by Ben Avery from Welcome to Level Seven, the unofficial Marvel's Agents of SHIELD podcast.
3 kinds of interaction
1. Public: social-network interactions
If you have any public presence, you open yourself to responses. This could be on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, or other online communities. Responding to these are usually quick interactions, but responding can demonstrate accessibility and personality.
Some platforms are one-way, like podcast reviews, where you're unable to respond directly to the commenter.
2. Private: direct feedback
If you offer any direct contact methods, like email or voicemail, then you have the option to engage in a private conversation. This usually involves deeper conversations with more details. This can also provide content for your show.
3. Shared: guest appearances
When you invite a guest or cohost onto your podcast, or you're the guest or cohost on another show (or blog), the topic turns from a presentation to a conversation. This may not be ideal for every person or every show.
Benefits of interaction
When you involve others in your content, it's a potential “win” for both you and the listeners.
- Brings extra perspectives
- Provides new content
- Makes your community feel valued
- Positions you as personal and approachable
- Converts commenters into raving fans.
Disadvantages of interaction
Let's be honest. Sometimes, interaction is not a good thing for the content.
- May distract from your presentation
- May be redundant
- May raise irrelevant issues
- May not be where you want to take the show
- May be too low quality to use
Conclusion: interact as much as fits
I plan to talk more about handling positive, negative, and show feedback in the future. For now, I do recommend that you interact with your audience as much as you can. This may mean simple, “Thanks for the feedback!” messages you use in reples, or including a message every now and then in your podcast. You could even simply mention someone by name or reference that something was from feedback.
Look at traditional media: TV shows, news broadcasts, talk shows, and more. Most of them have drastically increased how much they incorporate audience participation in some way, even if it's just chatting with official hashtags. Scripted TV shows usually don't incorporate fan feedback, but the cast and crew are often on social networks interacting with their fans.
Find what fits with your show. But always try to be as human as possible and make others feel valued. It's very hard to grow a successful podcast if your audience doesn't feel valued. This doesn't mean you have to be accessible to 100% of your audience, but at least demonstrate that you're listening and interacting.
Do you need an email list for your podcast?
“Build your list” seems to be universal marketing advice for bloggers, podcasters, and businesses. But is this really something you should consider for a successful podcast?
What you can do with an email list
I'll cover how to use an email list for podcasting in the future. So here are some quick ideas of how you could use an email list for your podcast.
- Notify of new episodes
- Provide extra content
- Announce important things
- Request specific feedback
- Share other interesting stuff
Benefits of an email list
- Direct connection with your audience
- Easy opportunities for feedback (by allowing replies)
- Build trust for recommending or announcing products and services
- Profit from quick actions
- Connect your audience with content they may have missed
Disadvantages of an email list
- Easy to “offend” with frequent or infrequent content
- Takes time to create more content
- Potentially low value in automated content
- May seem gimmicky if you're just starting out
Conclusion: start building your email list
Yes, I do believe that having an email list is extremely valuable. Even if you use it for nothing else except announcing special events. The earlier you can start on your list, the better.
Even if you have no bonus you can offer for sign-ups, offer it as a way to receive updates via email. You could even start with automated RSS emails.
If you have separate sites, I recommend having separate lists for each one, at least separate groups.
I use and recommend MailChimp for email lists.
What do you think about interaction and email lists? Please comment!
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