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  • Writer's pictureColby Horton

Your Members Are Listening: 6 Tips for a Successful Association Podcast

Podcasts serve as an engagement opportunity for associations ready to expand on their value propositions. If your association is considering a podcast, the time is definitely ripe.

At its core, an association has traditionally served as an informational resource for members and other industry professionals. It’s part of an association’s value proposition. And while print publications, written blogs and educational events have always been at the forefront of being information conduits for organizations, each member has different preferences for content consumption and must be catered to accordingly.

Your members are busy, and their time to digest association content is shrinking. That’s a resounding reason why associations are starting to jump on the podcast bandwagon. Think about it - podcasts have the ultimate portability. Industry professionals can listen to podcasts at their leisure and almost anywhere: driving to work, taking the kids to soccer practice, jogging and exercising, punching through their to-do list at their desk, flying cross country, or sitting on a beach.

While podcasting started in the early 2000s, the medium has seen a drastic growth in the last few years. And, associations are certainly taking notice.

Ultimately, as branded content, podcasts serve as an engagement opportunity for an association to expand on its value proposition. If your association is considering a podcast, the time is definitely ripe.

By the Numbers

So just how big is podcasting? There are over 80 million Americans that listen to weekly podcasts. That’s more than the number of Netflix account owners in the U.S. (69 million). And why not? The same characteristics that bring people to Netflix, such as original content, binge watchability, content customization, the ability to watch programs on their own schedule, drive the success of podcasts as well.

While other mediums struggle to keep viewership or listenership, podcast listeners tend to be highly engaged. In fact, 80% of podcast listeners listen to all or most of every podcast episode they start. Plus, on average, podcast listeners consume 7 shows per week.

According to a recent study, 66% of podcast listeners have a college degree (bachelor's or higher) and an average annual household income of $75,000 or more. And, Americans ages 18-34 make up 66% of podcast fans. Does this sound like the future leaders of your association?

Regardless of where they listen (more than 25% listen in their cars), most people consume podcast content using their smartphonesand listen to episodes via a podcast app, with Apple and Spotify dominating the app space.

According to Nielsen, even light podcast consumers listen a total of 10 hours and 13 minutes of radio each week - an increase of 43 minutes more than the average American. Heavy podcast consumers listen to radio 65 minutes more than most Americans.

So, what steps should associations take when formulating a podcasting strategy?

We're Glad You Asked

Associations are using podcasting not only for engagement opportunities, but also for recruiting and retaining members. That said, the success of any podcast depends on the quality of content that lies within it. Your listeners - your members and industry professionals - should see value in the content you’re producing. They should learn something new while being entertained. And, your association’s podcast should present unique points of view while capturing and sustaining audience interest. Here are some other things to consider:

1. Set goals.

Before ever embarking on the podcasting journey, determine your overall goals. Are you looking to spark conversation, educate the industry or shape advocacy efforts? Perhaps you’re wanting to discuss industry trends and feature success stories from your members. Are you looking for another source of non-dues revenue through sponsorship opportunities? (81% of listeners say they sometimes or always pay attention to podcast ads). Rather than blindly starting a new podcast, it is important to evaluate your goals in the beginning so you can remain consistent and true to your overall objective. Remember, podcasts can be great informational resources for both members and prospects. You must keep that in mind as you formulate and support your goals.

2. Define your audience and evaluate your industry.

When it comes to an audience, young professionals are prime candidates to listen to your association podcast. But the highest “new adopters” of podcasts are ages 55+. So any segment of your membership is a potential listener. The type of content, format and voice used should reflect the audience you want to reach. Cater to them and you’re sure to get more engagement.

The sheer amount of podcast topics available allow for a wide variety of listeners based on interests and professions. While there’s nothing wrong with having multiple podcasts for your association, it’s best to do some research on existing industry podcasts. Know your “competition” and try to have a break-out moment with unique content in the space.

3. Commit, commit, commit.

Remember, many producers publish a podcast for 5-6 months before seeing any major uptick in listeners. Establishing a loyal audience is a laborious process that tries your patience. Keeping a consistent schedule is the best way to keep listeners coming back. Stay true to your schedule from the beginning and it’ll pay off with more listeners and more engagement in the end.

4. Make a plan.

Recording isn’t the only piece of creating a podcast. There’s a lot more steps involved: content planning, booking and coordinating guests, post-production and editing, selling advertising, and promotion are other pieces of the podcast puzzle that must be completed for every episode. It’s imperative to create a schedule that plans every aspect for upcoming shows.

5. Focus on consistent content.

Associations thrive on niche podcasts. If your association’s goal is to reach a particular audience, it must center the content strategy on their specific interests. While an occasional change to the overall structure of episodes is fine, loyal listeners tune in to hear consistent topics and may flee if those topics are changed.

6. Cast a host.

While members may subscribe to your podcast because of the content, they will continue to listen because they like the host. Your host should have a unique stance on issues and a memorable style. Be sure whoever you choose to host the show is committed to the consistent production schedule.

Ready to Launch and Promote

Once you’ve decided which podcast directories are right for your organization, submit quickly. It can take some time to be approved on the most popular directories. But once approved, it’s time to get the word out.

Be sure to include a link and description of your podcast episodes here:

  • E-newsletter

  • Online member community, including any social media groups

  • Dedicated email to all members

  • Association’s LinkedIn profile

  • Tag any guests on social media

  • Your association’s executives LinkedIn profiles

Final Thoughts on Association Podcasts

Conversational and entertaining, association podcasts have the ability to educate, attract and retain members, while establishing an organization as the informational authority within the industry it serves. When done correctly, they’ll engage a dedicated audience. Your members are already listening. Make sure they’re putting your organization in the mix.

How Can We Help?

Association Briefings has a team of association-focused experts excited to help with all your podcasting needs - from storyboarding and guest prep to recording, post-production and promotion. Reach out here to get started.


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