Updated: Aug 23
So what does this teach us?
Competition for attention is fierce on other content channels like Instagram, Facebook, etc., where the average engagement length is 10 seconds.
But a podcast listener devotes a whopping 41 minutes to one podcast. And unlike a TV show or Instagram that numbs the mind, a podcast is a conversation that stimulates instead.
A podcast accompanies us in our daily activities (commuting, cooking, working out or taking a walk). This creates an intimacy unparalleled by anything else we know today.
And guess what? The listener craves that intimacy.
In one study, 66% of podcast listeners said that listening to podcasts made them feel less lonely.
And it would help if you did everything possible to create that intimacy the listener desires. Because if you don't, there are many other podcasts that a listener will devote their time to instead.
This is why you, as the podcast host, must do everything you can to stop alienating your listeners.
Your first instinct might be to assure your audience that you've got millions of listeners - even when you don't. You might also feel that you need to validate your skills or popularity.
It's our natural instinct to look desirable. So it can be a tough pill to swallow when you discover the fastest way to grow is eliminating all of those natural instincts.
The new way to show up is to focus on authenticity and speaking from the heart. Podcast listeners want you to share your hardships and challenging days.
Listeners don't want perfect; they want normal.
They want to know they're not alone in their thoughts, desires and beliefs. They want a podcast that "gets them".
So let's talk about ways you might alienate your listener without realising it.
1. Saying 'Listeners' instead of 'Listener'. It feels natural to say 'listeners' and other plural nouns like "you guys". And I'm sure you've heard it countless times on podcasts before.
But that doesn't mean it's the right wording.
A listener who is alone subconsciously believes they are having an intimate experience with the host.
When you use the word 'listeners', a listener will detach for a moment from the story and pull away. Anything you can do to keep a listener engaged is best. So try switching the singular nouns, such as 'listener' and 'you'.
Don't be afraid to get intimate and speak as if it's only you and the listener. "Hey, it's you and me here, chatting about [insert podcast subject]."
2. Posting a live session without giving context. I love multipurpose content as much as any good content creator does. But a prerecorded "live" session will turn off a listener, especially without context.
Therefore, it is my recommendation that you do not use live sessions as podcast episodes at all.
If you can rerecord content specifically for your podcast, that's best. But I completely understand that's not always possible. Sometimes the content is too good to pass. A perfect example of this is when you have a special guest that was at a live event.
If you decide to use a live session as a podcast, then start the podcast episode with an introduction. Explain what's coming and why it's essential to include the live session in your episode.
Finish with an outro summarising takeaways from the live session. Watch your listener retention rate increase after you provide more intimate context.
3. Alienating a gender, age or personal belief as someone who shouldn't listen to your podcast. Ouch. Nothing hurts a listener more than falling in love with a podcast and then discovering the host doesn't think you're the one listening.
Every podcast should indeed consider who its target audience is. But unless you're from a polarising group that must define their audience as separate from others, don't single out a person different from your target audience. It is the fastest way to lose a loyal listener.
4. Discussing the day, time and weather of a singular place. You record your podcast in one location, but you may have a listener tuning in from across the globe.
Incredibly, we can post an episode that anyone can listen to. But it's never a good idea to speak about your environment as if all listeners are experiencing the same. For example, don't start an episode with "Good morning.".
The listener will immediately feel alienated if they're listening to your episode at any other time of day. It's okay to call out the rainy weather you're having, but remember to counter that with how the listener might experience something different.
An example could be, "We've had the worst rain here in Sydney this week, so I hope it's sunnier where you're listening from. If not, at least we can commiserate together under rain clouds!"
Remove these alienating habits and begin to see improvements in your listener loyalty. Now in the next article, I'll share five ways you can work toward creating intimacy with your podcast listeners.