One of the keys to successful podcasting is finding a support network for other like-minded people who are on the same journey. Podcaster communities offer a great opportunity to meet this need through knowledge sharing and to inspire and morally support one another. Because of this, many podcasting communities have been founded that are thriving worldwide both online and offline.
Several articles have been written about it Podcaster communities However, there has never been an in-depth study that offers a more comprehensive view of the entire landscape. That’s why we at Spreaker recently decided to interview community organizers and gather information on currently active podcaster communities. In this post we will consider some of the key conclusions from our study.
Why was 2012 the catalyst for Facebook?
As the following graphic shows, there has been a clear linear growth in Facebook groups since 2012. This is particularly interesting as this would have been expected in 2014 with the Start of Apple iOS 8that introduced the podcast app as the standard, non-erasable device on the iPhone, and it was also the year that the “Serial” podcast became very popular. As we’ll see later, this growth in communities also occurred on the Meetup platform around 2012.
If we look at the names of the oldest Facebook groups, we see a trend towards very broad podcasting topics.
The largest podcast communities Also tend to have these broad categories, although some of the newer groups have more niche topics like “Podcast Editors’ Club” and “She Podcasts” (for female podcasters).
If we look at the top ten groups with the most posting activity in the past 30 days, we can see that some of them are promotional in nature. In these groups, podcasters share their latest episodes and have little engagement. Self-promotion in podcast communities is common and other moderators go to great lengths to prevent this from overwhelming their groups, as we will see in some examples.
Some of the larger, more active groups that are well moderated include:
Podcast Movement Community – For podcasters
This group was originally intended as a channel for participants in the podcast movement conference (which started in 2014). It has since expanded to all levels of podcasters and inquiries. All co-founders of the conference are active in the group, which strictly does not provide for self-promotion or publication of podcast links.
Podcasters support group
This group was created and hosted by Helen Zaltzman and initially focused on a British audience that had meetups but which has expanded again. There are regular administrative posts where people can post comments on their latest episode (which prevents over-advertising) and encourages cross-promotion between podcasts. According to the group creators (who are comedy podcasters) the tone is often humorous.
Cut the BS Podcasting
This is less focused on monetization than other groups and attracts a more creative crowd of podcasters who are past their first episode and are typically around six months to two years old. Group creator Jeremy Enns provides conversation starters and there is a light tone to the group, set by the initial screening question about preferred ice cream flavors.
Podcast Editor’s Club
This is a great place to ask audio-related questions and find your next audio editor. Group creator Steve Stewart suggests that if you are looking for a producer to contact them so they can share this with the group.
She describes podcasts as “a safe place for women and those who identify as feminine or ONLY non-binary who are creating or setting up a podcast to currently ask questions, provide support, share resources, win and themselves to use for everyone others and whatever else they like ”. This group is the third largest Facebook group in our study. This is especially impressive considering that it is an all-women group with creator-only membership criteria.
What can we learn from Meetup to keep a community alive?
The type of meetup groups are local and personal. We have defined this type of platform as one that is considered “active” when Meetup is due or has taken place within the last six months.
These communities can be temporary and often disintegrate if not picked up by an organizer. They also disappear from the platform when the subscription fees are no longer paid. This meant that the data we collected were only representative of the groups that survive to this day.
This characteristic of meetup groups should be considered when looking at the data. An example of this is the table below of Meetup Groups created over time, which at first glance shows the same unusual pattern as Facebook in terms of the early growth spurt around 2013, before the introduction of iOS8 and the “serial effect”. However, with further consideration, it would make sense that groups formed immediately prior to these events would benefit from the subsequent surge in popularity and awareness of podcasts. It is most likely that many groups were formed before 2013 that died out before they could benefit.
As expected, the US dominates in terms of the number of meetups groups, due both to the fact that both podcasting and meetup started in America, as well as their popularity in those countries.
If we look at the most engaged groups in terms of the percentage of members who actually sign up for meetups, we can see that many smaller groups are very engaged.
The largest active groups are all based in the US, and we can see that the groups are concentrated on the west and east coasts.
While Meetup and Facebook are still the most popular online community platforms for podcasters, recently community organizers have been turning to other alternatives to building a podcast community, namely Slack, Telegram, Google Groups, Reddit, LinkedIn, and Discord.
Which alternative podcaster communities are there?
Google Groups seem particularly popular with radio stations that have overlap with the podcasting community. Public Radio NYC is an e-mail only community with over 3000 members and a regular monthly radio club where members meet and criticize each other’s work. This inspired the creation of the UK audio network The aim is to “bring all corners of the UK audio scene together to foster dialogue and opportunity for all”.
Telegram is a messaging service that is similar to Whatsapp, but has some additional group moderation features, making it a popular choice for online communities. Union Podcastera is a telegram group founded by Pato Lopardo. It is a Spanish-speaking podcasting community with members from all over Latin America and Spain.
The Podcasts and Podcasting Subreddits are both places where both podcast hosts and listeners gather to share knowledge and discuss. Reddit as a platform makes it relatively easy to filter the most popular and helpful content from user posts by sorting posts by upvotes.
Although Slack is a communication platform originally intended for team collaboration only, many community organizers have capitalized on its popularity among tech-savvy people There are reportedly over 2000 documented groups.
#podcasters is the largest group of Notes with over 600 users and uses Slack’s RSS feed integrations to get breaking episodes from member podcasts, as well as podcast-related news and articles.
The Podcasters Society is a paid membership community that includes a Slack group, among other resources, where creator Daniel J Lewis provides quick and direct support and advice.
Similar to Slack, Discord is geared towards gaming communities and benefits from a close collaboration with Reddit and Patreon. It has speech-only channels that allow users to communicate using audio rather than text.
Pod Squad is a group first announced on the rred / podcasts subreddit to “find quick and immediate insight from others, criticism and live discussions about technology and podcast culture”. “Podcast Problems” is another group founded by podcast critic Wil Williams and aimed at both podcast creators and fans, with additional dedicated channels made especially for them Patreon followers.
The Podcast technology resource The group is the most notable on Linkedin with over 4000 members. The platform is inherently one of the more professional and business-oriented communities.
In summary, the community landscape is thriving in podcasting. Although much of the activity is focused on Facebook and Meetup, more communities have popped up recently on a variety of other platforms. These platforms offer newer alternatives that take slightly different target groups or communication preferences into account while successfully engaging the podcast community. Many of these groups are relatively broad in terms of their focus, with the exception of a few recently formed groups – this shows a potential opportunity for organizers to capitalize on. One of the surprising results of the study is that all online communities use proprietary platforms – for example, no significant self-hosted forums were identified.
If you want to examine the data we have analyzed in detail, you can do so with the help of our data Data visualization. We’ve also packed a lot of information from the study into an infographic, which you can find below. Let us know in the comments if there are any other groups that we haven’t mentioned yet that are worth highlighting!
Footnote: For the purposes of this study, we only analyzed podcaster communities – excluding fan groups, listeners, or product-oriented communities. The data for the study was collected in December 2018.
Since Facebook limits the results of a search to one hundred entries, our data example for this platform was affected by this limitation. This meant that some of the smaller, more regional groups were not included. However, all of the most popular podcasting groups are included in the selected sample.