As you probably guessed, a Follower is a person who clicked “Follow” to get notifications about your podcast. You might assume they’re regular listeners, or that this is the final stage of The Listener Lifecycle. After all, they heeded your call to action and clicked “Like” or “Subscribe”, right?
Well, not necessarily. Before we get into the nitty-gritty, let’s figure out how many Followers you actually have. While you do get follower stats from Apple and Spotify, those stats don’t include the rest of your audience who listens on other platforms. Even download numbers don’t really tell the full story, as you probably have listeners who stream your episodes instead.
You also probably have Followers who don’t listen to your episodes. Let’s face it: we’ve all followed someone on social media only to never really view their content again. Don’t feel bad though; it’s entirely possible that they moved off-grid and into the wilderness in between episode releases.
In order to get the most accurate count of your Followers, we need to find out how many people are following you across all platforms and actively listening to new episodes. Luckily, this is a pretty easy number to calculate if you use a running average of your download count after the first 24 hours of an episode being up. You can find more detailed instructions in this episode of The Humble Podcaster.
What Makes a Follower a Follower?
So, just what does a follower do beyond belong to a list and listening to your show on a consistent basis?
This is an interesting stage because more often than not, Followers are the “silent majority” of your show’s base. You don’t often hear from this group, but they are listening. And it’s very important that we keep them listening.
Followers are a valuable asset to your show, and not just because they’re helping you grow. Because they’re listening, they’re able to point out any errors you might make. While nobody wants to make an error in their podcast, appreciate this gift for what it is – feedback AND a chance to engage your audience. It’s best to acknowledge the error, let them know you’re aware of and/or fixing it, and find a way to lighten the mood. If you can strike the right tone on social media when engaging your Followers, there’s a very good chance you’ll wind up catching the eyes of more Curious listeners.
However, you might not make any errors… at least for a while. So you’ll still need to find other ways to engage your Followers.
How to Engage your Listeners
Engaging your listeners is easy – just have them all appear on your show! (We kid – kind of). Rather than interviewing all of your listeners, you might consider having listeners do listener-read segues. It gives them a chance to identify themselves and to have their voice forever associated with an episode of the show. Astonishing Legends does this incredibly well if you’re looking for an example of what this might sound like.
Of course, your show might not have a format where listener-read segues make sense. In that case, make sure you’re asking for listener input. Offer an email address where listeners can make suggestions, and since this is a two-way street, make sure you respond or even act on the suggestions where you can – and always give credit to the listener when you do. Acknowledge errors and credit the listener by name (if they choose to be identified) for catching said errors. You might also end up with listener-generated content. Find ways to highlight it in the appropriate medium – be it social media or directly on your show.
What we’re doing here is giving listeners an opportunity to be heard and highlighted on your show. This ultimately makes your content more sharable with their friends and their audience. It also gives you an opportunity to build a community. And speaking of community…
Best Practices for Social Media Engagement
The more people talk about your show, the more likely someone will want folks to band together and talk about it… that’s right, you might have your very own fan club on your hands before you know it! And it’s important to keep in mind that if you don’t start the community first, they will start one for you. It’s best you get out ahead of that group and start your own place for your Followers to congregate.
Once you’ve started creating places for folks to congregate, be it on Reddit, Slack, Facebook Groups, Patreon, or whatever flavor of private community you prefer, you’ve begun to convert Followers into Subscribers, and very likely, they’ll quickly turn into True Fans as well.
In this phase, the most important thing you can do for your audience is to find ways to draw them further into your show. Live streaming your content is one great example of this. If you’re comfortable building your content in public, this is a great way to engage with those folks. There are multiple platforms that can be used for this, so we recommend that you start by finding the one where you have the biggest audience and engaging there first.
Video content is another way to reach listeners where they’re at. Even if you don’t want to post full videos of your content to YouTube, having recorded video of yourself and your guests talking makes for great promotional material. As you may have heard, YouTube is working on ways to incorporate podcasts into their platform, and Spotify just released video podcasts as well. The sooner you can get out ahead of this trend, the better positioned you’ll be.
Lastly, there’s always good old social media. We hope that you’ve taken our earlier advice and are posting regularly so that potential listeners know you’re an active show. We also encourage you to take it a step further and actually talk to the folks who are responding to your posts. Make sure you reply to comments in a timely manner and get to know the people who are regularly engaging with your show. You can even do an ask me anything (AMA) to really draw people in and encourage interactive conversations. The advantage to content like this is that it also attracts Curious and Explorer stage listeners as well, and the content can be expanded to engage Subscribers and True Fans as you add different levels of access to your content (exclusive events, private events, etc.).
At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that podcasting is solely driven by the people in your audience. It’s not up to some network executive whether you’re successful or not, it’s up to your listeners. So engaging your audience is the best way to ensure your Followers actually follow you into becoming True Fans. Stay tuned for the next episode of The Humble Podcaster, where we’ll explain how that happens and cover the Subscriber stage. Happy podcasting!