How to Grow Your Podcast Audience Through an Audience Engagement Strategy

How to Grow Your Podcast Audience Through an Audience Engagement Strategy

It’s a universal truth. Just about every podcaster wants to grow their audience size and download count. There are many growth tactics that podcasters can use to grow their podcast audience…including SEO, social media, paid ads, guest podcasting, events, community building, etc.

Here at PodInbox, the podcast growth tactic we really evangelize is audience engagement. We believe that a great audience engagement plan not only creates captivated listeners…it also produces podcast evangelists, which leads to a viral growth of new listeners.

In this article, we run through why you should focus on audience engagement for your podcast, and how to run audience engagement successfully. Here are the main points we’ll cover:

Why use audience engagement for podcast growth

We at PodInbox are huge proponents of using audience engagement to virally grow your podcast. Audience engagement doesn’t just nurture your existing audience, it effectively helps grow new listeners. Here are some of the core reasons why we love this tactic.

Word of Mouth is Effective

In today’s sea of podcasts, it’s become a challenge to get discovered by new listeners. In podcast directories, your podcast is competing with over 2 million podcasts to get found. Numerous studies show that over 62% of podcast listeners still rely on word-of-mouth recommendations to find their podcasts.

This tells us, word of mouth is still one of the key ways to attract new listeners. When you lean into audience engagement, the idea is to create a tribe of super fans, and encourage them to share and recommend your podcast to their friends and spheres of influence. Chances are, your existing listeners will have a lot of like-minded friends who would enjoy your podcast after being given a friendly recommendation.

Organic & Free

Unlike some of the other podcast growth tactics, audience engagement efforts are generally free. Yes, it does take some work, but you’re not paying directly for listener acquisition, like you would with paid ads and sponsorships. This type of growth tactic is ‘organic’, because new listeners are discovering your show in a natural way, through the recommendation of friends and word-of-mouth. Having your fans evangelizing your podcast is much more powerful than you trying to sell it to them.

The Viral Effect

Building your audience through word of mouth may sound painfully slow, but thanks for the power of viral effects, this marketing tactic is incredibly powerful.

Let’s do some simple math. Let’s say you have 2 listeners share your podcast, and you get 2 new listeners…now you have 4 listeners total. This isn’t a huge gain. But the viral power comes when this cycle happens again, where your 4 followers share your podcast with 2 of their friends. At this point, you once again doubled to 8 listeners. Now repeat this cycle just 18 more times, how many listeners will you have? The answer…over 1 million listeners! Go ahead, do the math. Leveraging the power of viral loops is one of the most powerful growth hacks you can do to grow your podcast audience.

Engage your audience

Hopefully, you’re convinced audience engagement can help grow your podcast. The first step is to actually engage your audience. To engage your podcast audience, the key goal is to get them to interact back with you. Podcasting, by nature, is a very passive activity. Your job here is to get your listener to go from actively listening, to participating with you.

Use your imagination and creativity. It can be something as simple as asking your listeners to DM you on Twitter, or asking them to leave you an audio message on your PodInbox page. Alternatively, it could be something more involved, like a running a contest asking your audience to add, post, and tag you on an Instagram reel, that you can repost on your Instagram account.

Whatever it is, encourage your listener to invest in engagement 1 action, which starts to convert them from a passive listener into an active and engaged audience member. 

Reward your audience

After getting your audience to engage, you should reward their behavior. This reward doesn’t need to be monetary or a prize. At the most basic, simply leverage your main platform, your podcast, to give them a reward. One of the most basic and free rewards you can give is a shout-out on your podcast, referencing your fan’s name and social media handles.

If you’re running audience engagement using PodInbox, we highly recommend downloading audio messages from your fans and including them right in your show. This has the effect of giving your fans a guest appearance on your show, and it teaches your other listeners that they can also potentially get the same reward if they engage.

Imagine if your favorite podcaster gave you a shout-out or played an audio message with your voice…how excited would you be?! You’d likely share that episode with all your friends, and even proudly share it on all your social media. Rewarding your audience by recognizing them publically reinforces good behavior. It’s also one of the most effective ways to create what we call, “active evangelist super fans”. This brings us to our next point.

Activate your audience

Finally, once your audience has started engaging, becoming active participants, and you’ve rewarded their engagement by recognizing them on your show, it’s time to activate them as evangelists.

In this step, the key is to not be timid. You’ve already created an active fan. Now, you’ll need to take it one step further and encourage that fan to share their enthusiasm for your podcast.

If you’re using PodInbox, and you did what we recommended above by showcasing their audio message on your podcast episode, then this step is really easy. All you need to do is follow up on your shout-out. Simply highlight their cameo on your social media channels, like Twitter and Instagram, and tag that fan. This makes it super easy for that fan to show their excitement by reposting or retweeting your post to their social circles, with just 1-click.

Viola, you’ve created a viral loop! Now, their friends will likely check out that episode and possibly become a new subscriber of your podcast. This last step is highly important in converting a passive fan into an active evangelist. It’s also super effective, cause not only did you mention them once on your show…you’ve now also given them a 2nd shout-out on your social media. In your fan’s mind, not only are they excited to share, but perhaps may even feel a bit obligated with all the reinforcement and attention you’re rewarding them with.

This simple tactic we shared above is something we’re really excited about at PodInbox. It’s both really easy to implement and extremely effective. We think this audience engagement viral loop strategy can be a real game-changer in helping podcasts nurture and grow their audiences. Give it a shot and let us know your results!

Scroll to Top