If your main method of communicating with members is through writing, it might be time to consider expanding your options. Approximately one-third of Americans over age 12 have listened to at least one podcast during their lifetime. This statistic indicates that podcasts can be an effective way to engage your members. “Think of the podcast as a way to get into the ears of your audience in a more intimate way than the written word can,” says President and CEO of SpinWeb Michael Reynolds. “If your audience is listening to your podcast, they not only get the content you are delivering but also your personality, tone and culture.” For this reason, podcasts can be a great way to keep your members closely invested in your mission, as well as provide a strong opportunity to demonstrate membership value.

Recruitment and retention are highly dependent on a member's or potential members' ability to trust the organization. “People naturally want to do business with people they know, like and trust,” Reynolds says. “The more opportunity you have to get to know them, the better, which is why a podcast is a great way to strengthen the connection you have with your members and prospects.”

Here Reynolds offers some tips for launching podcasts that effectively engage members.

  1. Ask yourself, “What do I want to teach my members?” Useful, relevant content is the cornerstone of any successful, member-targeted podcast. “Just like your blog, e-books and webinars teach and provide value to your audience. … Your podcast should do the same,” Reynolds says.
  2. Pick a format that resonates with members. Reynolds says podcasts adopt a “solo monologue,” “interview show” or “multiple-host radio show” format. A solo monologue offers a simple format with one host presenting on a certain topic. An interview show often features a single host and an expert, while a multiple-host show provides an opportunity for back-and-forth communication and a potentially livelier experience for listeners.
  3. Pick your recording method. Depending on your resources, you may use something as simple as the iPhone voice memo tool. Mediums like Google Hangout and Skype offer a more customized experience. Spreaker provides the ability to broadcast podcasts live and distribute via iTunes. If your organization uses Web conference software like GoToMeeting or WebEx, certain features can also be used as recording mediums for podcasts.
  4. Produce your podcast to reflect the personality of your organization. A well-produced podcast is properly edited and incorporates music and clean transitions. These elements allow the personality of your organization to shine through.
  5. Make podcasts easily accessible to members. Post your podcasts where you know members can access them. Include links on your website and social media platforms to encourage consistent downloads. While iTunes is the default for sharing podcasts, you may consider surveying members to see where they are most likely to listen.

Source: Michael Reynolds, President and CEO, SpinWeb, Indianapolis, IN. Phone (317) 324-1100. E-mail: Michael@spinweb.net. Website: www.spinweb.net