Creating an interesting podcast that people want to listen to is a lot of hard work. Sure, designing compelling stories, conducting research and coming up with anecdotes is a lot of fun, but wouldn’t it be nice to have some backup?
One of the best parts of podcasting for me has been the engagement I have with our audience. They are passionate, fun and hilarious people. I’d be nuts not to include them in some of the shows! As it turns out, they didn’t disappoint me, and they took the burden of content production off of my shoulders.
Ways Your Audience Can be Part of the Show
There are tons of ways to feature the audience in your show, but not all of them will work for every show format. If you have a story-focused format, you might want to produce bonus episodes where the audience can interact or introduce bits at the start or end of the pod that can showcase them in some way.
Some ways to include your audience in the show are:
- Read reviews of your pod, both positive and negative, on the show.
- Ask questions or post surveys on social media and share the results.
- Start a voicemail line and mention the number at the top of the show.
- Include interviews or guest spots with superfans.
Read Good and Bad Reviews
An essential part of your show’s growth is reviews. One way that you can encourage reviews is to read them on a segment within your show. Reading the good reviews is a no-brainer, but you should read the bad ones too. Why? It gives you a chance to save face, and it’s entertaining!
People love to hear their words read aloud on their favorite podcasts, but the bad ones can give you a chance to riff a bit.
Sometimes the bad reviews have a point. If you can take a step back, on-air, and agree with a bad review, it will show your audience that you are reasonable and open to producing a better show for them.
The bad reviews are often silly, and who doesn’t love to laugh at a poorly written and irrational review?
Share the Results of Social Media Interactions
Asking questions on social media is a sure-fire way to get interactions. Everyone has opinions and answers, and they all are happy to let you know what they are. If you ask a question on social media and 25 people respond, that’s at least a 15-minute segment if you take your time to add your 2 cents to each response.
Polls are great because they lend an air of officiality to the program: “We asked the audience what the scariest movie ever made was and according to our poll it’s…” You can discuss whether you agree with the poll results or whether your favorite pick got robbed.
Start a Voicemail Line
One of the most successful and entertaining moves we’ve made was the introduction of a voicemail line. As soon as we announced that our audience could call in and get on the show, the gloves were off! Listeners would disagree with our opinions, tell us they appreciated us, and even talk to each other from one episode to another.
Some people would call in as characters that they made up and have little story arcs that they would play out.
There is nothing as gratifying as hearing the voices of your listeners and getting to interact with them on a weekly basis.
If you receive five calls that are 2 minutes long each week, that’s at least 20 minutes of content after you respond to each call. It’s engaging, fun, and allows your audience to participate in the show.
As of the publication of this article, Google Voice allows the creation of one free voicemail line per account. Make sure you get it all setup before sharing to your audience, or else you might miss out on a whole week’s worth of calls.
Showcase Superfans on Your Podcast
Finding a way to thank big fans of your show is essential for a number of reasons. It shows regular listeners that their continued interaction and support of your show is rewarded, and it’s entertaining.
Depending on your format, this can be accomplished in a few different ways. You can have them participate in a bit on the show. Maybe they get to be one of the characters in your story. Perhaps you interview them about their experience with the show and allow them to plug a personal venture.
However you include them, it will be a good time. The one caveat with this is that it doesn’t always go perfectly. If you struggle with the quality of a performance that one of your fans gave, it’s crucial to have a plan B. One way to diffuse this scenario is if you have an additional publication avenue (like Patreon), just mention that it will be featured as an exclusive on your paywall site.
No matter how you choose to include your audience, it can be a massive boon to any podcast. Both the audience and the show will benefit from the inclusion of the audience in the content creation of your show.
Do you enlist fans (or critics) in your content creation? Let us know how you go about it in the comments.
David Day is the co-founder and co-host of Horror Movie Talk Podcast. When he isn’t watching horror movies he is focused on growing the podcast. Listen to his show Horror Movie Talk here.