Unlike dessert, some things are better when you share
A lot has been said about the “network effect” in economics, but it’s basically the idea that a product is better when more people use it.
Slack, a collaborative chat tool for teams, is a great example of this: it’s pretty awful to use Slack when you’re the only one on it. You’re talking to yourself. When you invite your teammates at work, or other ycdi•di patrons —yes, you can get access to our Slack— it’s way more fun.
I’m still discovering how to apply the network effect to a podcast community, but here are some observations from the past year:
It takes time to build an audience.
To build an audience, you need to build trust over time.
When you continue to show up and prove that you’re not going anywhere, people start paying attention. Once you have their attention, you have to demonstrate what you’re doing has value.
The network effect only begins to happen when you find people who believe their lives will be improved by sharing what you’ve made with others.
If you have no audience, you have no network effect.
People listen to podcasts in private.
Podcasts alone aren’t exactly network effect generators, but an affinity for them is.
When people starting saying to themselves, “I have to share this with my coworker because I want to be able to talk with her about it,” a podcast can start to get traction.
So, let’s give them something to talk about…
We felt weird asking guests to promote their episode, so we didn’t.
Honestly, it felt self-serving to ask. It was a double-edged sword: they post, and our show gets more popular. It was self-serving!
What I’ve come to learn though, is it’s also self-serving not to ask. By that, I mean that we served our own anxieties and fears about how we would be perceived if we did. Would our guests with thousands of followers think less of us for asking for help promoting their show to their audience?
We believe in our ability to share about peoples’ careers and creative pursuits in ways that will inspire our listeners to chase their dreams as well. Our guests’ have people who already trust them, admire them, and in many ways want to emulate them. By sharing about their episode with their fans, they have more opportunity to deepen their support.
We couldn’t tell the difference between ‘followers’ and ‘fans’
This hooks back into #1, where I think it actually took awhile for fans to show up so we could make the distinction. We didn’t recognize them because we hadn’t yet seen the contrast.
Followers care enough to show up for what you do. Fans bring others with them.
Here’s the crazy thing: Our first mega-fans had never even heard our show before. More on that next time…
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