November 2021

How you can make a social impact with your podcast

Shaakira White is making a social impact with her podcasts. In this article, she shares how you can do the same.

Why do you podcast? Maybe you want to hear topics that matter to you, maybe you want to inspire and encourage your audience, or maybe you just want to share the hilarious conversations you’re having with your co-host.

For Shaakira White, production assistant/intern for the TV show Dynasty, podcasting started as a form of personal expression. Her first show, "Carefree and Black Diaries," is a home for her thoughts on culture, politics, music, education, and more. Along the way, Shaakira found opportunities to make a social impact with her podcasts, both with "Carefree and Black Diaries" and her second show, "Black History Moments."

Shaakira's story makes it clear that podcasting is not only an amazing medium for creative expression—it can be a vehicle for social change, too. In this article, we'll share Shaakira's podcasting journey, highlight how Anchor's podcast tools have helped her make a social impact on her listeners, and show how you can do the same with your own podcast.


Build a home for yourself and your community

Shaakira started “Carefree and Black Diaries” in 2018 as an outlet for herself and for the Black community.

She says, “I named it ‘Carefree and Black Diaries’ because I was at a point in my life where I felt like, where do we have a space for Black people? Where do we have a space to just be carefree, to not be worried about so many things?”

As she was getting the show off the ground, she was intimidated by the challenge of recording her podcast, distributing it to every single podcast platform, and marketing it all by herself. That's where Anchor made it easy for her to overcome her initial doubts and find her momentum.

“To be able to find Anchor and have so many resources just within the platform itself where I literally don't have to worry about anything but getting the audio up...it was so helpful and that made the barrier to entry so much lower.”

Shaakira was encouraged early on in her journey by the data in her Anchor dashboard. “I just get a thrill out of waiting about 30 minutes after a new episode comes out and going on the Anchor website and seeing the people that listened or started listening to the episode.”

“It really keeps you motivated to know that you're not just making it to go out into the abyss.”


Create a scholarship with Anchor Sponsorships

Shaakira is a socially minded creator who gives back to her communities as much as she can. She didn't create “Carefree and Black Diaries” to earn money. But when she activated Anchor Sponsorships for the show in late 2018, she immediately started earning advertising revenue from it.

In 2020, she designed a program to funnel her earnings from Anchor Sponsorships back to her listeners to express gratitude for their support. To make it work, Shaakira had to figure out which of her listeners would benefit most from her program and how she could coordinate with them to make it happen.

Identifying key listener groups with Anchor analytics

With her Anchor analytics, Shaakira was able to identify that her show’s key demographics were in the 18-22 and 23-27 age groups. She verified this by checking the accounts that followed her show’s Instagram page and engaged with its posts—these accounts were often linked to college students.

Shaakira’s demographic data helped her understand how to structure a scholarship program.
Source: Shaakira White

Using this information, Shaakira realized that a scholarship for college students could be the best approach for giving back to her listeners. “I’ve been in college before. I’ve been in grad school before. What is something that I needed when I was in that space? And I thought about money.”

“I thought it would be nice to give back to the community that gives to me...which are the college women and men that listen to the podcast.”

Communicate with your audience through social media

Shaakira established the scholarship with $500 from her Anchor Sponsorships earnings. She planned to distribute $100 to five recipients, each of whom had to submit an application and show proof of enrollment in their college program.

When she took the scholarship live on her show’s Instagram page, two of her friends decided to each put in $100 as well, so she ended up having seven scholarship recipients in total.

Shaakira’s scholarship recipients stayed in touch with her and told her through her social channels how they used their scholarships. As college students, many of them directed their scholarships toward educational and technical resources for that semester.

“I wanted them to be able to put it where it needed to go the most. So it was great ... it feels really, really good,” says Shaakira.


Meaningful content can be as powerful as a scholarship

Not every podcaster can sponsor a scholarship from their advertising revenue, and Shaakira is aware of that. However, she believes that podcasters can still have a social impact by sharing meaningful content and making their voices heard.

Shaakira’s second show, “Black History Moments,” offers listeners a deep dive into Black individuals who have been overlooked by society. In her words: “They aren’t the Martin Luther Kings, or the Malcolm Xs, or the Harriet Tubmans. These are the people that you don’t know and they aren’t in the history books.”

The show hasn’t been around for as long as “Carefree and Black Diaries”, but Shaakira has felt the impact of her work. “A lot of people who aren’t Black reach out to me...because I think people feel after they listened to the episode, they feel like it's okay to ask [questions] and it's okay to have the conversations.”

Making your voice heard can also lead to unique opportunities for social impact. In 2020, Shaakira was invited by Ohio State University to speak at their annual African American Heritage Festival. One of her podcast listeners was a member of the planning committee for the event and recommended her as a panelist.

“I felt like I was dreaming when I received the invitation to speak via email because it's such a prestigious university,” says Shaakira.


Use your platform to do what you can

When it comes to advice for podcasters looking to make their own social impact, Shaakira says, “Do what you can with what you have.”

Sometimes she wrestles with wanting to help more or give back more to her community. That’s when she remembers that she’s still one person, and she’s doing what she can with what she has while also juggling her other responsibilities.

“If you have 100 listeners and 50 of them go out into their community and do something with what they took away from you—that's making a difference.

So start small, be proud of what you've done, and use what you have.”


Learn more: Grow