Even as some podcasters have put live events back on the calendar for 2022, the omicron variant may leave others with a wait-and-see strategy. For those shows sticking close to home for the time being, a new company has launched geared to helping producers create virtual events. Podcast Parties, created by radio and digital media consultant Seth Resler, will handle the virtual event’s production that he says goes beyond the traditional Zoom call complete with a virtual experience like a ballroom floorplan with tables that viewers can join by double-clicking allowing them to videoconference with everyone else at that table. Guests can mix and mingle by switching tables at any time.
Among the suggested ideas for the events are listener appreciation parties, season launch events, a sports season preview, a lunch and learn event, or a virtual VIP party for a show’s sponsors. Resler says it is also a way to bring listeners together to connect with each other in real time. For example, the host of a podcast about sailing can gather sailors from around the world together to share their experiences and plan future trips or the host of a personal finance podcast can create a series of educational workshops in which the participants learn from one another.
“Audience members consume content, but they don’t interact with each other,” says Resler. “Community members, on the other hand, communicate and collaborate with one another. Because podcasters focus on specific areas of interest, they are well-positioned to build communities.”
The cost of such events will be based on how many attendees it attracts, how long the event runs, and how many sponsors it has. Typically, Podcast Parties will require a $500 minimum cost. But Resler thinks virtual events can also become money-makers for producers by allowing them to sell tickets, offer sponsorships, or reward Patreon supporters. Resler also believes that many sponsors will find more value by engaging with deeper communities instead of larger audiences. “For a lot of sponsors, it’s not about reaching the most people; it’s about reaching the right people. So a podcaster with a small but highly engaged community built around a niche interest can be incredibly valuable,” he says.
Podcast Parties are hosted on a virtual event platform and while podcasters may focus on the presentation, Resler recommends less than a third of an event’s time be spent with the host doing the talking. The rest should be in conversation mode.