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When we think of the word “intimacy” and the feelings or images it invokes in our minds, chances are that “podcasting” is one of the last terms associated with it. Right? And yet, podcasting is one of the most intimate forms of interaction across all contemporary social media platforms and channels. Unlike other content mediums, podcasts tend to be consumed solo through headphones, offering listeners a one-on-one experience with the episode’s host.
This inherently creates feelings of closeness and trust between listeners and the podcasters whose content they consume. In nurturing the intimate nature of podcasts with your audience, the key is to remain authentic and genuine with listeners. Doing so allows your listeners to feel more connected to you and your content on a more personal level, keeping them consistently engaged with your brand.
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Establishing Trust and Rapport With Listeners
As a content creator, encouraging your audience to engage with your brand and its content will only go so far if the content you produce doesn’t offer any value in return. After all, has anyone in the history of content creation, even pre-dating social media and the internet, ever enjoyed a 30-45 minute advertisement? Every listener downloading and listening to your podcast will only do so consistently as long as they find value in it, whether that value is educating, entertaining or fulfilling a curiosity in niche topics.
Whatever value your podcast intends to offer its audience, the ultimate goal should be to establish a connection and therefore build trust with listeners. The more authentic and credible your opinions or advice are, the more likely listeners will view you as a trustworthy source. And that trust can simply start by showing up on the podcast when you say you will. Even if your podcast is one that publishes content purely for the sake of entertainment, your listeners need to trust that they can firstly return to each episode of your podcast when you say they can and also feel a deeper connection to you each time they listen. The more trust your audience places in you, the more rapport you build with them and the more intimate their listening experience will be.
Today’s digital world is one ruled by consumer behavior and attention. According to one study, more than half of all consumers today are more likely to remain loyal to brands that “get them,” or understand them on a deeper, more personal level. This is a huge advantage for podcasters because the intimacy of the platform is literally like being in someone’s ear, creating a feeling of “you’re speaking to me, directly.”
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Engaging Listeners With Authenticity Builds Intimacy
Take a brief moment to comb through the list of podcasts you listen to most frequently. Then, think about what the main factors are that keep you coming back to tune in to each new episode of those shows. It’s fairly likely that at least one of those factors includes (or is related to) the authenticity of the podcast’s host.
In podcasting, your show is that brand. The “business” your podcast does is its content and the emotional connection that content establishes with its consumers (i.e., listeners).
In other words, establishing an emotional connection with listeners through being authentic and real is paramount in nurturing intimacy with your audience. Accomplishing this will keep listeners more engaged and likely to consume your content more frequently. Not only this, but it will also make your audience more likely to recommend your podcast to others who share their interests and wants, unlocking additional opportunities to establish that same sense of trust, loyalty and intimacy with entirely new listeners.
When you are able to showcase your real and genuine self through your podcast’s content, the audience takes notice. Even though they aren’t able to see you and can only hear you, cues in your voice’s tone, pitch and volume are able to let listeners know whether or not you’re being authentic. The more authentic you are able to be, the easier it will be to establish intimacy with the audience.
Treating Your Audience Like Friends
Throughout the past few years, the podcast industry has experienced immense growth. As the pandemic forced us all to remain indoors, listeners flocked to podcasts to help stave off the loneliness and stress associated with prolonged periods of isolation. For many of those listeners, podcasts — and the people who host them — became a new source of one-way connection and even friendship.
Midway through 2020, a report produced by Edison Research and NPR found that time spent listening to spoken-word audio content had increased some 8% from the year before, “with the biggest growth coming from women, 13- to 34-year-olds, African-Americans, and Hispanics.” Although part of this growth was due to the ability of listeners to multitask while consuming podcast content, the main reason was that it granted these listeners a much-needed break from the consistent barrage of negativity from other media sources. Roughly two-thirds of respondents to the study the report was based on said that the intimate connection they felt from podcasts they consumed helped them feel less lonely. Your podcast audience is your community.
Human beings are, by nature, social creatures who thrive on connecting with others. Everyone loves finding out that we can relate to them on a deeper, personal and more meaningful level. As a podcaster, that relationship is established by being authentic and building trust and loyalty from your audience. The more loyal your audience is, the more intimate their experience with your brand and its content becomes. Eventually, they will no longer view you simply as another creator or influencer, but as a trustworthy friend they know they can rely on.
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