FYB 121 | Listener Engagement

Do you know what gets listeners to subscribe to your podcast? Listener engagement. That is what builds your brand and your subscriber numbers. This could be the fun little conversations on social media or using the right call to action. All of these things play a pivotal role in making your podcast a success. Join Tom Hazzard and Tracy Hazzard as they give you tips on how you can engage with your listeners. Learn how to have one website for everything so as not to confuse people. Learn how blog posts and social media posts help build connections. Discover more tips and tricks by listening today.

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Listener Engagement: Effective Ways To Foster Audience Participation And Comments

In this episode, we are going to talk about fostering listener engagement and comments. We’re going to take a little deeper dive into this. We’ve talked about this subject a couple of times in the past, but we’re getting more specific because you need to get more specific to succeed with this. Isn’t that right, Tracy?

Yes. If we’re going to encourage engagement from our listeners, encouraging engagement in social media is its own thing. While some of the things tie to social media, we’re not talking about encouraging engagement within your Facebook group and your social media channel. We’re talking about getting your listeners off of your show and just listening to communicating with you. We want to encourage that cross engagement. That’s what we’re talking about. We’re getting specific about how to do that.

You will say these things on air and then things that you will then encourage off air. Things that you want them to do. That’s where we’re focusing, but we’re also focusing and niching down here because we want you to get specific, and we don’t want you to overcomplicate things. Part of the problem is that we hear all these things we should do. “We should get them to subscribe, rate, and review. We should have a contest. We should have affiliates. We should have sponsors. We should have this.” All of those things add layers of audio complication that we cannot handle if we want to encourage that type of level of connection and engagement, which in the end pays more dividends, right, Tom?

It does, and I want to twist what you were saying a little bit, Tracy, to instead say, “This is something we could do,” but then ask, “Should we?”

There are some of those things we just shouldn’t do because it complicates so much of the way that our show functions and there’s little return on investment for the effort of that. The complication makes it harder for you to hit that good level of subscriber or listener engagement that we want, which is going to get you more value in the long run. We want to simplify things, especially in the beginning, about what we’re doing and how we’re approaching that encouragement that you’re giving on air to get the engagement back.

A lot of you may have heard that sales cliché, “A confused mind never buys.” That applies to podcast listeners, too. If you confuse them, they’re not going to take action on what it is you may suggest.

If listeners aren’t engaging with you, it might be because you’re confusing them too much. How do we simplify things, Tom?

We give our readers only one thing to need to remember, one place to go, or one thing to do. We don’t want to include, “Don’t forget to subscribe, rate, and review here. You’re going to go to the guest’s website there, and go to get a link to their book here.”

“Get this download here. Remember this complicated coupon code.” We can’t have that.

You’ve got to keep calls to action clear and simple.

I like to do it in two possible places, depending on what I’m asking my audience to do. Number one, I’d like to get them to my website. We always are sending people right back to the website. We want to do that at all times, but sometimes we have to ask something more of that social engagement. We want to encourage them to go to one place. Hopefully, it’s named the same thing.

If you confuse your audience, they're not going to take action on what it is you may suggest. Click To Tweet

It’s pretty easy for me because I’m @TheBingeFactor everywhere and my show is called The Binge Factor at TheBingeFactor.com. It’s easy for me to say, “Go find me on LinkedIn.” “Go find me on Instagram,” because I’m in the same places with the same address. That’s where we solidified things and making it one thing and making it simple.

Even if you don’t want to use a Facebook page or a LinkedIn page, you can use it to link people through to where you want to send them. That’s also a tip that you can use. If you’ve got a complicated last name that is hard to spell, you might want to send them to your LinkedIn page, your Facebook page, or your Instagram account named under your podcast. If so, you can cross-link them into the other places, so that’s a possibility. Keep that in mind. We’re going to keep sending them to one place.

If we’re sending them to our social, we need to send them with a purpose. I might want to send you to Clubhouse. I might want you to go to Clubhouse and friend me, find me. I’m giving you one thing to do, “Go follow me on Clubhouse.” Why? I’m going to invite you to a room and speak because you came to me from my podcast. I’m going to help you with that.

Whitney Lauritsen does stuff like that. This is one of the things that she takes people and she’ll guide them through some new platform that they’ve never experienced before, like Clubhouse. She did that with us. By being their guide there, you’re inviting them for a deeper engagement on that level. I’m not just friending you over there. I’m friending you with an upside for me. That’s always a good path. If I’m going to invite them to try something new, I’m going to do that.

I’m also not going to do that in five different ways. I’m not going to say, “Go friend me on Clubhouse. Join me on LinkedIn. Go try my Facebook Live.” I’m not going to do all that at once. In fact, I’m probably going to concentrate on Clubhouse for one month. I might do 4 or 8 episodes, or whatever that is. I want to do it for enough time that I get people used to it.

This is a problem, Tom, that we see with a lot of people launching. They’re trying so hard to do, “Subscribe, rate, and review. Share my show.” There are too many calls to action in the beginning. I’m a bigger fan of that eight weeks of subscription, and listening is more powerful because you want to get onto the top lists everywhere when you just launched your show. I want to focus on getting as many subscribers as I can, so I want people to share my show.

The rating and reviewing, to be honest with you, doesn’t do enough for me. I’ve seen people with hundreds of ratings and reviews and people with ten who still make the top list. It doesn’t seem to be a big enough factor for me to waste my call to action using it in those first eight weeks. I say, two months, do a call to action to share the show. Share the show with everyone you can. That’s all you’re asking your audience to do.

People that become aware of your show, if they like it, they’re going to subscribe. It’s become so well known that you can subscribe to podcasts and not have to go search for them every time. It’ll just come right to your phone when it’s available every day. The rating and reviewing already, even though you already asked for the subscription. People are going to do it. Ask people, “Share the show. Share with a friend. Let them know about it. Who do you know that might be interested in the show? Please, let them know about it.” It’s just about raising awareness. All over your website is going to be a button, “Subscribe. Click here. Here are all the different places that the show is available. You can find it on your favorite app.”

Keep it simple. Don’t tell people to go to Apple, Spotify, or iHeart. They’re going to go to the place that’s their favorite app anyway. If you’re not saying their app, then you’re annoying them. I got harassed on Clubhouse because I’m an Android user. I counted Apple Podcasts as a player because I’ve never used it and I’ve been a podcast listener for over a decade. I don’t because I’m not going to download it to my Android phone. It doesn’t work as well. There’s no point in doing that. It’s one of those things where you get in a heated discussion about it and that happened.

Whether you have an Android phone or an iPhone, you’d think that it’s like some political statement, and people get bothered by that. It’s like, “I don’t think it’s any more political than team sports. I like the Red Sox. You like the Houston Astros. We can do that.”

Occasionally, we might have to have a bet about that. For me, it’s a design statement. It has nothing to do with anything else, but the point of it is that we don’t need to get into those complicated places because they’re already listening to a podcast. They’re smart enough to know that there are podcast players and they have a favorite where they’re keeping their playlist and they’re already subscribing. You’re being redundant. It’s kind of like now, the younger generation laughs when you go out and you say www.Podetize.com. They roll their eyes when you say that

FYB 121 | Listener Engagement

Listener Engagement: When your audience can’t figure out where to ask you questions, you’ve lost the opportunity for engagement. You probably also lost a listener long-term because the value’s not there anymore.

 

The www shows that you’re old school or internet 1.0. It’s so unnecessary. You don’t need to type www everywhere. In fact, most of the time when we repeat that, we flub it anyway.

We say it badly. There’s no reason to do it and I keep cutting it out of people’s outros and they keep getting frustrated with me, but I’m like, “You don’t need to say it. It sounds terrible when you say it and to top it all off, you’re alienating a younger generation, so let’s not do that.” These are the kinds of things where we want to simplify. Think about how you’re saying things.

The thing that I want to do, though, is I’m inviting people to share for eight weeks. Let’s mix it up over those eight weeks and inviting a specific kind of people. I want to niche down. On a certain show, I can say, “If this show resonated with you because of this, share it with someone else who has this problem, too.” I’m asking them for specific people in their minds. They’re not just saying, “I could share this with anyone.”

They’re saying, “I’m going to share this with other people who have marketing issues. I’m going to share this with other people who have LinkedIn problems. I’m going to share this with other people who are looking at getting on Clubhouse.” Whatever that might be, you’re giving them a specific type of person for them to hit on. The minute that person says, “I’ve been thinking about getting on Clubhouse.” What are they going to say to them, Tom?

“Do you have an iPhone?”

Besides that, they’re going to say, “I heard this great podcaster. You’re going to want to check that out. They’re giving Clubhouse advice,” or something like that. When we’re specific about it, it triggers a bell in their head when that person’s match comes up. This is our daughter’s favorite thing to do. Our youngest daughter loves the matching game. She gets pissed if you win. She wants to win.

Our minds seek out matches. It is how our brains work. It is something that we love. When patterns match together, there’s a synergy that goes on. There are bells that go off in our brains. “Good job.” We want and seek that. If we give them something to match against, they’re more likely to engage and do it. Now your listeners are taking up. Many people are so broad like, “I just want anyone to listen.” No.

When you make everything a priority, nothing is a priority. If you want to try to share it with everybody, you share it with everyone or whoever you think might be interested. I like your idea of getting very specific, Tracy. Who do you know that has this need? Who do you know that fits this profile? That gets people thinking more specifically about who they can share it with.

Tom, you had an example and I love this. After we’ve tried some of these things like getting people to share, trying a subscribe, rate, and review on any other programmatic things that we want to try to shift to do, we don’t have a major call to action like we want them to go to a webinar, new course, new book, or whatever that is. We might want to test out and try some other ways to get our listeners to communicate with us, especially in the early days, because sometimes it takes 25 or more episodes before we start hearing back from the audience. How soon can we get them to come back? We need to be specific. You were giving a great example of NPR, which you listen to. Would you tell them what NPR does to try to encourage listener questions?

This is a great tip for any podcasters, not just new ones. It’s for all you seasoned podcasters as well. It takes a little advanced planning. I want to preface this with that. You do have to have a little bit of a plan with what your episodes are going to be coming up. NPR does this on some of their radio shows during the day that is very topic-based like, “Today we’re doing an episode about non-fungible tokens.”

They’ll have another one on an issue about parents with kids in distance learning at home or whatever. They’ll be talking on a topic and then come back. They’re going to take a break and say, “Before we take a break, we want to mention something that we’d like a little help with from our listeners for our next show.” They’re teasing ahead as to what an upcoming show subject is going to be about.

When podcasting, focus on just getting as many subscribers as you can. Ratings and reviews can come later. Click To Tweet

It’s making you want to stick and listen. “Make sure you tune in tomorrow or the next week.”

It may not be your very next show. It may be, “A show we’re going to do next month. An upcoming show in a couple of weeks.” Remember, with podcasting, we’re not doing live radio. We need to plan a little further ahead. We need to leave time for people to do what we’re about to ask them to do.

We don’t have an NPR team.

We need to leave time for people to reach out to you for what you’re about to ask them to participate in, and then use that in a show you’re recording with them that’s going to come out a couple of weeks later. It might be for a show we’re going to do next month, and then say, “We’re going to do a show on space junk.” Although, I don’t know how many people have personal experience with that.

We’ll invite you to ask you a question, “What is it you’d like to know about space junk? Maybe you want to know how much there is. Maybe you want to know if anybody’s doing something about it. Whatever it is. Does it bother you? Are you interested? Please, let us know.” Now here comes the call to action. How are you going to invite them to reach out to you? There are a number of ways to do this and we’ve shared some of those in the past.

The best place to do this is one place on social, or your website, and we prefer your website because, at the end of the day, that’s where everything is. Even if you’re going to link through the other things, if you can do it on your website, do it there as your first course of action, your first choice. In the case of NPR, they are inviting you to go to their website.

There are things you can do. There are tools you can put on your website where people can leave you a voicemail. I encourage that. If they’ll have to check a box that says they’re willing to have the recording published so you can use it in your podcast. If you’re going to answer a question from a listener, it’s so wonderful to take an audio clip of them asking the question and we can cut that into your podcast audio. Even if you’re doing video, we can cut it in and have a still image up while that’s happening and you can let that question be asked by the listener and then you address it and answer it.

Imagine later, when you’re posting that episode out on social media, you can tag that person who contributed. They’re going to share it with all their friends. It’s going to create that ripple of other fans. It does have a great way. One of the best places to do this is your website and there’s a whole bunch of different tools. Google Voice has a great one, super simple, inexpensive, mostly free, but you can put a link to your Google Voice that they can call and leave a voicemail message that way.

If you’re using a mobile phone, you just click on the phone number and it’s going to go straight to the Google Voice line and record for you. There’s not much else to do and you got them to hit your website so you got them to go there and check things out. You don’t have to recite these phone numbers and do these things on air. You can make it as simple as, “There’s a phone number right at the top of the page. Click on that and it’ll leave a voicemail for us.”

That’s a simple, straightforward way to get actual engagement and super easy because I’m already listening on my phone. It’s super easy for me to click that and then tell you my message rather than sit down and type it out for you. We want to match our audience’s preferred format, which in this case is audio, with the output or the call-to-action direction that we’re asking them to do. We find too many people that are like, “Send me an email,” but so many people are not email people. They’re not going to sit down and remember to do that.

You have to give them an email address and they have to remember that. We are advocates of giving people one thing to remember. That’s why so often we say your website. Hopefully, your website is not a long URL. If it is, we would suggest getting a shorter URL. That’s a referring URL. It’ll forward to the website. We’re not saying you have to change your website but let’s come up with something that’s easy to remember, like GoHere.com.

FYB 121 | Listener Engagement

Listener Engagement: You want to simplify things so your listeners won’t get confused. Give your listeners only one thing to need to remember, or one place to go, or one thing to do.

 

Another thing is Jimmy Fallon’s hashtag of the week. A day before, he starts the hashtag chain. He gives the topic and the hashtag, so this is something that we also want you to do. NPR has their topic plan, but if you don’t have a topic, why don’t you ask for a direction or a question or you have this already pre-planned as to what you’re going to ask them.

That’s what you’re asking them to comment and engage on and you can ask them to do it on the website or over social media. It’s a little easier on social media to get them to start commenting on this thing. You have to have a social post that matches the call-to-action that you made on the show. You want to have a social post planned. Ask for the same call-to-action that you asked on your show.

You want to have them both go live at the same time, so it’s right there and easy for them to start commenting on. The second part that I want is to get some plants. I don’t mean nice, pretty green ones. What I mean is planted people. This, we learned early on. Get some people to start the discussion for you. Get some people in your community. Reward them for helping out and for jumping on a question quickly.

If you’ve got the engagement going or if you don’t have the engagement going in your social channel to begin with, get a pod, a group of people together, who are going to comment on everything you post, and you’re going to comment on everything they post. That way, you’re creating this opportunity that this stuff is getting jumped on immediately and it creates a cascade of other people not wanting to miss out.

You’re saying create a podcast pod?

Yes.

I like it. I’ve always been an advocate from our earliest days as podcasters. I’m going to peel back the curtain a little bit here. If your audience is not initially asking questions or commenting, it’s okay to fake it, not indefinitely, but to prime the pumps to get things moving in the right direction. You can say, “We’re talking on this subject.” You’re recording your episode, “I want to share a question that one of our listeners wrote in. He’s Liam from New Jersey and here’s this question.” Liam from New Jersey is somebody I grew up with from grade school through high school and he doesn’t know a thing about what I’m doing. He doesn’t mind if I use his name. I’m not giving his last name and say he asked the question. You get your audience conditioned to be, “This person wrote in and asked a question and they read it on the show.”

If you go further and eventually get permission, you can do shout-outs. When you do shout-outs to somebody who asked the question, they become more of an even more raving fan. They feel recognized and noticed. This happened with us, where I saw someone that was frequently commenting on our Instagram posts. I was thanking her pretty regularly for commenting and answering any questions that she was doing.

She happened to pop into our Clubhouse and I recognized her immediately because her podcast name was unusual. She’s one of my Binge Factors. She got herself invited on The Binge Factor for popping into the Clubhouse room because she showed up in two places. That said to me, a dedicated fan. I rewarded that and other people started to hear and see that. They’re going to want that same recognition as well. Raphie Wagner, Not a Momma Life, you’re going to want to check out her episode because she’s got some brilliant things that she says there.

Another thing I want to suggest that you can do if you don’t want to ask a question, let’s say you have an episode you’re doing on a controversial topic. Maybe there are two sides to this. Maybe there’s some complex negotiation. There could be all sorts of potential things you want to talk about on a subject. You can take a poll.

You can poll your listeners and you say, “We’re curious about our podcast. How many of you felt this way about the subject? How many of you felt that way? How many of you agree with our guests and how many of you don’t? Go to our website and complete the poll. Go to our Facebook page and do hashtag poll yes or no.” You can get them to, in some way, let you know whether they feel this way or that way. You also tease your audience by saying, “We’ll give you the results of that poll on an upcoming episode.” That keeps them coming back and listening to get that piece of information.

When you make everything a priority, nothing is a priority. Click To Tweet

I’m a bigger fan of if you’re going to do a poll or some kind of thing like that, you want to ask it everywhere. You’re going to put it on Facebook, Twitter, and wherever you can do a poll of some kind. You can also simplify it as Tom went and put yes, no, or whatever into the comments and that helps as well. It’s a little hard to add it up if they don’t have a real poll feature in your particular social media that you’re utilizing, but most of them have it.

That’s a good problem to have. If you’ve got to count too many comments by hand, you’re doing well.

Make sure that you’re doing it everywhere and you’re referencing back that, “I asked this on my podcast,” so there’s also the people who find the poll are also referencing back to the fact that this came through your podcast. We see that not crossing back happening too often. We want to make sure that we’re cross-pollinating everything that we do. The last thing before we go, I want to say, when you’re asking for feedback on something, you need to ask a better question.

You need to get specific and detailed with your question asking. You needed to get detailed about the focus of the person you wanted them to share the show with. You want to do the same thing with questions. You want to ask good questions. Sometimes you want the yes or no thing like in a poll situation. For the most part, you want to ask a question that requires a little bit more detailed answer.

We’re asking a deeper and more specific question. Sometimes we want to have a little fun, clever twist to it if we make it a little bit of fun. I was on a podcast once where they would run a question about what it would be if you had a magical power. I thought, “Let me think of all this.” Vanessa was dressed up as Hermione. She had messy hair. She had to comb her hair in the morning and I said, “You’re looking like Hermione in the first movie,” whatever the first one was called, “You’re looking like Hermione in year one when she didn’t know the spell yet to comb her hair.” I said, “You need a spell called beautify.”

She loved it and it was hilarious. I’m going to be the beautifying magic. If you ask the question in that way, there’s going to be all these funny stories I told. There are going to be people who are like, “If I had magic power, I’d be doing this with my family. I would make my dog behave,” which we need to do. No barking during this hour.

Any of those things would be the fun responses you could get, which creates a deeper and more fun engagement. The next rule of thumb is when that happens, acknowledge. Make sure you’re letting them know you read their comment. If you’re confused by their comment, ask for clarification. If you think their comment would be good for someone else, like they shared a resource or something that’s good for someone else, pay it forward. Share it with someone. Tag someone in your community that might want to read this comment. You’re creating relationships, networks, and community. That engagement encourages more engagement.

If there are a lot of comments, questions, or whatever it is, maybe you’re only going to highlight one that you use a recording of if there is one and answer it, but you can also acknowledge others, “We’ve got some great questions. We appreciate hearing from Joe in Seattle and Janet in Texas,” or whatever. You give shout-outs to people and you don’t have to use their last names, but they’ll know you’re talking about them because you could say what city in Texas and all that.

You’re being specific about it. “Joe in Seattle shared this.” Being specific about what it was that they shared that’s valuable that you enjoyed about it or it made me think about that. When you’re specific about these things, you get detailed and granular about them so that people feel heard. They feel rewarded for the effort that they put in to say something to you and that effort is recognized by other people as being rewarded and now they want to do it, too.

They feel more a part of your community. The more that you do it, the more you make them a part of it. They feel like, “I belong. This is my tribe. I’m going to keep on coming back and listening.” One point of detail, if you want to know where people are, you’ve got to make sure you’re specific and say, “Let us know not only your question but where you are in the country. We’d love to know.”

That’s still adding complications. If not, you can always follow up and ask them later and that generates more conversation. I’m a fan of that. If that’s the secondary thing or it’s like, “Can I confirm? Can I use your profile photo in my blog? When I highlight the question you gave, I want to put your profile photo. Is that okay?” Start DM-ing them. You’re creating a deeper conversation and a more acknowledged relationship. They’re going to love that and that’s what you want at the end of the day. Encouraging engagement gets you more listeners. When they’re engaged, their audience sees that, and they want to share it more and now more listeners are coming. At the end of the day, this is all about getting more and more listeners into your show.

FYB 121 | Listener Engagement

Listener Engagement: Get some people in your community to help out and reward them for it. Get that engagement going in your social channel. This creates a cascade of other people not wanting to miss out.

 

It’s something everybody can do.

We’ll be back. We’re doing this more and more. We’re taking questions in our Facebook group Brandcasters! that is private, so these are our client-burning questions. These are the questions from successful podcasters. If you’d like to participate in this process and you don’t belong to the Brandcasters! Facebook group because you’re not a client yet, then you can still reach out to us on our website Podetize.com and send a question there or you can find us on social media @Podetize anywhere and you’ll be able to ask us that question there.

When you ask us a question, we want it to be advanced podcasting questions. We don’t want the silly, “How do I start a podcast? What size is cover art?” We want the specific stuff you’re struggling with over increasing listeners, dealing with guests, interviewing all of those tough things that you’re finding out as you’re diving into your podcasting journey.

Thanks for reading, everybody. We’ll see you next time.

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