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Audience Avatars and the Pursuit of the Perfect Listener

Is the term “audience avatar” familiar ground? It should be - the phrase has been a constant throughout all of our resources, from our webinars to our blog. But what is an audience avatar? Click the link to learn more!

Is the term “audience avatar” familiar ground? It should be – the phrase has been a constant throughout all of our resources, from our webinars to our blog.

But what is an audience avatar? And how does making one help your podcast?

What is an Audience Avatar?

An audience avatar is a fictional stand-in that you create to help you target your podcast to your ideal audience. This fictional stand-in is supposed to represent the platonic ideal of your perfect listener, with the intention of figuring out what podcasting needs your podcast meets. Their podcasting needs should be met perfectly by your podcast, and this is supposed to help you make further decisions as your build your podcast up.

For example, let’s say that your podcast is an interview podcast that releases every other week, with the intention of educating your audience on various topics.

That means that your ideal listener should be someone 1) actively searching for/listening to interviews, 2) able to keep up with a biweekly podcast, and 3) looking to be educated on the topics that you’re sharing.

This perfect version of your listener, your audience avatar, probably doesn’t exist in real life. But versions of your avatar – real people whose needs are similar enough to your avatar’s – do exist and tune in to podcasts on a sliding scale of how well they meet their podcasting needs. So by making the active choice to target your podcast, you are actually widening the net to properly grow your audience.

Why Target A Specific Audience?

Your podcast is like soup.

No, really, go with me on this.

Your podcast is like soup. You make it mostly tailored to your own tastes, and toss everything that you love in it with the intention of making it something that you 100% love. However, when you share the soup with other people – in this case, with the podcast-listening public – you find that not everyone likes all the ingredients that you tossed into the pot.

By focusing on one or two key ingredients, you’re likely to reach a wider circle of people.

Let’s try another example. Let’s say that you put together a podcast that’s about NASCAR and horse-racing. In your mind, they’re both something you’re into, and are similar enough to be in one podcast. But not everyone who’s interested in horse-racing is going to be similarly interested in NASCAR, and vice versa. By choosing one niche – one topic –  for your podcast, you’re more likely to hit a wider range of listeners. 

Behind the Pod-Scenes: Who is Kevin?

You may be asking, “Okay, I get the audience avatar thing, but who’s Kevin?”

Back in the halcyon days of our weekly webinars, we featured one such webinar on starting your podcast. There, we spoke briefly on audience avatars, and we gifted ours with the name Kevin – partially for humor’s sake, and partially so we could differentiate between actual listeners and the audience avatar we made in our examples.

This doesn’t mean that your audience avatar has to be named Kevin, or even have a name at all. However, it can always come in handy when trying to figure out who you’re speaking to. (For example, if you’re still having trouble with the sensation of speaking to your mic without an audience, you can have a reminder with your audience avatar’s name present so you can direct your speech as necessary.)

How Do I Build an Audience Avatar?

When it comes to creating your own audience avatar, the idea is that you’re looking at what kind of podcast you’re producing and what podcasting needs you are meeting. From there, you match that to the podcasting needs that listeners may have, and deduce your ideal audience based on whose needs you have the ability to meet with your podcast.

Some questions to ask:

How much time does he spend on social media/what platforms is he on?

What we’re really asking is, “What platforms are you on the most?” or “What platforms do I think my content would work the best for.

For example, if your biggest following is on Instagram, your audience avatar isn’t going to spend his social media time primarily on Twitter. 

This is a little different from the approach you’d take if you were just starting your podcast out – there, you’d want to figure out what platform you’re willing to spend the most time on, and start growing your following there.

What’s his level of familiarity with the topic that I’m covering?

What we figure out with this question is the tone you can use when creating your podcast. For example, if you’re covering a high-level topic like theoretical physics, knowing your audience avatar’s experience with the topic lets you know if you should present baseline information in an educational context, or go off into the weeds with the latest information and theories for someone who isn’t a layman.

This also applies to topics like skit comedy, improv, and other discussions-based formats. Are you aiming for an audience that’s looking to you to be introduced to a typical comedy style, or are you aiming for an audience that’s familiar with the comedic/storytelling styles that you’re using. 

How does he engage with my podcast/content?

This will tell you how to format your episodes themselves, and where you can direct him to take further action with your podcast.

For example, if you have a lot of platforms for engagement – like a Discord server, a specific subreddit, a patron program – specifically to build up the relationship between you and your listeners, your ideal listener might not be someone who’s more into lurking. On the other hand, if you don’t necessarily engage super heavily with your audience, your ideal listener isn’t going to be someone looking for a heavy level of engagement.

How else does he spend his time?

This goes hand in hand with the other questions, because it’s going to give you more information on how he’s tuning in to listen and how he’s engaging with your podcast.

For example, if you produce episodes that are twenty to thirty minutes long, your audience avatar might be someone who commutes. If you’re producing episodes that are a couple hours long, your audience avatar might be someone who can binge a large amount of content while they’re working or on-the-go.

It will also give you ideas of what else you can include to deepen your relationship with your community. For example, if your podcast is centered around reviews for movies and shows, maybe your audience avatar is someone who also enjoys conventions centered around those pieces of media. If your podcast is centered around crafting or DIY, then you can partner with a company that makes DIY kits for your audience to purchase and build alongside you.

Conclusion – Your Audience Avatar

The purpose of your audience avatar is to help you target your podcast and reach your ideal listeners. Whether you’re a podcaster just starting out, or someone who’s well established in the podcasting space, there are many benefits to audience avatars such as:

  • Knowing where to invest your time and energy in regards to social media
  • Discovering best places to target with advertising
  • Learning what type of listener is best suited for your podcast

And much more!

Curious to learn more about audience avatars? Register for your virtual ticket to Podcast Movement: Dallas for Podbean’s session on audience avatars!

By day, a marketing writer for Podbean. By night, surrounded by eclectic projects like stop-motion puppets, half-knit sweaters, and a violin that won't learn to play itself. Certified Fresh(c) by a master's in English.

1 comment on “Audience Avatars and the Pursuit of the Perfect Listener

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