2022 tech trend: Why podcasters are setting up messaging communities

Written by Tom Gayner

The idea of “tribes” is spoken about a lot in marketing, and whether you’re into the idea or not, if you look deep into your soul you can probably identify the tribes you’re in. It’s the groups you’re in built around a passion, a shared love, and probably, a hashtag.

A crowd, in contrast, is just a lot of people with something in common - even if it’s just standing in the same place at the same time.

So how do you turn your podcast crowd into a tribe, your loyal subscribers into your engaged community members? And why is that so important?

The secret is in communication. Podcasting is incredibly intimate, as fans we listen to podcasters each and every week, and it feels like we have a genuine connection to the person on the other end of the microphone. But then the podcast stops, and so does the interaction…

But what if I, the fan, want to talk about the podcast? What if I have questions I want to ask, feedback to give? As it stands today, you probably turn to Twitter or Facebook groups, but neither of those platforms allow for a chat or on-going conversation, and they certainly don’t favour warmth and inclusivity.

Messaging platforms like Telegram and Discord are changing the game. They are creating safe spaces for fans to chat with fans, not just in one Twitter thread, but creating genuine long-lasting relationships. The engagement levels are insane! Across all podcasters using Levellr, 60% of users send at least one message, that is engagement on steroids. And it is not just fans that are loving it, so are the podcasters.

The Blue Monday Podcast community is an inclusive, inviting community that has revolutionised how Richard is interacting with his audience

Podcasters are choosing to set up messaging communities because they recognise that a successful podcast is based around love, not like. Engagement can be tricky when you’re in the one-way conversation business of podcasting, but Telegram & Discord are changing that.

So why is this new type of engagement becoming so popular? Let’s start with the obvious.

1. Fan engagement

By creating a messaging community based on your podcast’s niche, you’re creating a space for people to connect and chat, building an even stronger bond between yourself and your listeners. As anyone passionate about a subject knows: Game recognises game.

The Anfield Wrap community have synced existing subscribers into their community, driving retention & new subscribers in the process

2. User generated content

The other thing about engaged listeners is that they’re an absolute goldmine of information, they just need a forum to share it in. A listener to your show is exactly who you can rely on to provide honest feedback about what works and what doesn’t. They can even provide content: add the show agenda to a community group the week before you record, and you’ll be able to use listener stories and comments in the show itself. That makes your subscriber feel valued, and lo: even more engaged. It’s like the best vicious circle ever.

3. Make money!

Your messaging community also represents a unique revenue opportunity. You have a captive audience of your most engaged fans, ready to hear about your latest merch drop/event schedule/book launch.

With Levellr, you’re able to put that community group behind a paywall if you choose, making it a direct revenue stream. Either charge fans upfront, or make it part of a rewards program for your Patreon or Substack community.

Fans support Fulhamish by paying a small monthly fee that goes a long way in helping the podcasters keep producing week on week

4. Data acquisition

The other game changer is the ability to actually know who your most engaged fans are.

Levellr provide you with an all-in-one CRM solution, helping you understand who your superfans are in the process

When it comes to iTunes or Spotify, you know numbers but not much more. In contrast, when someone joins your messaging community, you have a name to put against each listener number. You can even access their email address (as long as they opt in), giving you an invaluable email marketing list. Sort your membership by engagement, and you will literally see a top 10, 20, 100 of your biggest fans. Whether you choose to throw them an exclusive party or contact them to see if they’re into your podcast spin-off idea, that’s incredible access to have.

Ultimately, it shows that the time of platforms owning that relationship with content consumers is over. Whether it’s for engagement or revenue, this year is going to see a boom in podcasters reaching out directly to fans. If you think you might kick-off a community, check out our 11 lessons on how to have a successful community launch here .