If you host a podcast, write a newsletter, or have a big tiktok or IG following, you may have thought about how to turn your audience into a real community — where people aren’t just ‘following’ you but are genuinely connecting with one another over a shared passion or interest.
If so, you’ll love this conversation with Mady Maio of Okay Sis — a lifestyle podcast that she and her sister Scout created three years ago and have turned into a community on geneva that pops off!
In this convo, we cover...
- Why Facebook and Slack aren’t the move for our generation’s groups & communities
- How to measure the “success” of your community
- The importance of focusing on the “micro” and giving people a warm welcome
Ok let’s jump in! (note: we’ve edited some of the conversation for brevity and clarity’s sake!) ⬇️
Hi! Ok, tell us a little bit about you and OkaySis.
Mady: I’m Mads, I’m half of Okay Sis podcast - the other half is my sister Scout. The podcast really just came out of this organic sisterly relationship. We just thought that our relationship, and the banter that we have together, just needed to be recorded...so we started a podcast together! We wanted to deepen our relationship, but also have an excuse to talk to all of our girl crushes. Honestly, podcasting is the biggest scam 😉 because you can literally reach out to anyone you want to speak to and say: “Hey can I have an hour of your time to ask you any question I would like!” So it’s been this incredible way to garner up a community or audience of listeners - these amazing people that we call our ‘sisters’ - but also a community of female guests that we’ve had on the podcast.
We always talk on Okay Sis about this idea that as women, we can have multitudes of interests — we don’t need to just be focused on one specific thing. So on the podcast & in our community on Geneva we cover the gamut from mental health to entrepreneurship to pop culture to romance novels — it’s all over the place, and that’s the way we like it!
Kim: I love that description so much. One of the things that’s so interesting about the space and community you’ve created is that there’s such an openness around so many elements of dialogue.
How did the "community" part of OkaySis come to be? Was the plan always something like: once we start this podcast we’ll need to have a community where people can talk with each other or was it something that evolved more organically?
Mady: This is something Scout touches on a lot. Podcasting is actually the only content creation platform that doesn’t have any real social interaction to it. If you’re an influencer on Instagram, people can comment, people can DM, people can like, whatever. But on a podcast app, people cannot tell you if they do or do not like it. You have to go off the app to find the community, find the listeners, and engage with them. Historically, many podcasts have gone to facebook, right? Facebook groups have done the “best job” I guess - it’s been the best ‘crutch’ that we could’ve ever had. A lot of podcasts go there first, because before Geneva there was nothing else. So that’s what we had before. Honestly, it was pretty engaged, but I never went on it. Facebook just reminded me of the olden times and middle school and I wasn’t looking to go back there. It feels like my dad’s on there so I’m just like, I’m not looking to go back there. We knew that people wanted to gather and interact with one another, but the Facebook Group had stopped serving the purpose: which was for Scout and I to be in there interacting and serving as the leaders. So the only place I really engaged with our audience was on Instagram, on Tiktok a little bit but that was it. We did some in person events and things like that too.
I’d always thought maybe we’d move the community to a Slack group or something like that, but Slack just feels, like, very professional, very career oriented — not where I wanted to spend my time ‘recreationally’ or, like, with friends. So when I discovered Geneva, I was like: this is the perfect space! Because it’s completely separate, it’s not tainted by anything. I feel so much more eager to engage and get excited. I always say this: I love a platform that prioritizes emojis and GIFs — and Geneva just has so much personality.
And the community has literally exploded (in a good way!) as a result. We had the community, but on Geneva it erupted into something that the Facebook group never captured.
Kim: I’m a member of your Okay Sis group, and I feel like I’ve seen your home popping off! I’ve been learning a lot 🤣
I’d love to hear how you’ve thought about the setup of your home on Geneva, and if there's anything you've learned now that it’s been live for awhile?
Mady: Yea, so something that’s been really important for us is the different topics, or rooms that we were able to create — so we’re able to have these, like, very different conversations live in different places. So, for example, we have this “Mental Health” room which is a lot more serious than the “Book Club” room or the “Random” room, or even the “Current Fixations” room which is kind of like our segment where we talk about what we’re obsessed with. We knew that we needed a special space for each of those conversations — because as I mentioned, the Okay Sis girl has multitudes and wants to talk about anything and everything that’s going on in her life.
Some things that we’ve learned: I think the metric of success is when the community members are the ones that are starting the conversations, starting the dialogue...feeling empowered and inspired to post themselves. And honestly, from the beginning, we thought we would have to be the ones leading and really going in there and asking questions and sparking discussion — but it really has been, people just posting. It’s such a delight to see. It’s incredible. One thing I’ve started to do whenever someone comes in, is I’ll reply to the “xxx has joined” message and ask them a question...because I think it’s a little intimidating to make an intro or post your first post...but if it’s in response to a specific question or prompt that I give, it helps people loosen up a bit. Something like: what was the best meal you cooked in the last week or what’s the latest book you read? Just stuff that gets them into the mood of the kind of stuff we talk about in our community.
One of my favorite things about Okay Sis is the diversity of conversations that happen there. I’m curious if you have a favorite room in your home — one discussion topic that’s your personal favorite?
Mady: We have a room called “Mazel Tov” that I absolutely love. Something that I had an issue with in other community groups I joined was that there was no ‘promoting’ of yourself, of your business, of a project that you were on. And I get it — it can get spammy if everyone’s promoting everything. But we have a whole room that’s dedicated to “wins” and celebrating success and things like that — which I think pivoted the narrative a little bit, where it’s not just spam, but it’s about hyping people up. That’s the point of having a community, having us be all together. Anytime someone graduates from school or gets a certificate or launches their business — or even something small. I go in there are post small wins all the time. That space is so positive, it’s an amazing room.
Yea, I love that room so much. That room and the “advice” room — those really represent the spirit and energy of the community you’ve created. I think it’s a magical thing to be able to create a space where there’s a sense of inherent trust between members, to be vulnerable and share wins without feeling too self-promotional.
What have been your biggest learnings when it comes to building community — both online and off??
Mady: Scout and I were not “influencers” before we started the OkaySis podcast so we were kinda new to this. And I think it served us because I think — any person that joined our community, we were SO excited that they were there. We just treated them like a queen, or like they’re our best friend because we couldn’t even believe they were giving us the time of day. So what that spirit kind of lent itself to is: we really focused a lot on the micro, rather than the macro — which is also something that we had spoken about too: people are super into GROWING their community, and GROWING the numbers, but to us, if you focus on people that are already there, that are engaged, your community will grow organically because they’re gonna tell a friend, and that person’s gonna tell a friend. So a tip would be: stay really micro, and pay a lot of attention to each person....we get on calls with people, Scot has also hired people from our community to work for her. So we’re really really about that one-on-one. We don’t think of ourselves as ‘above’ anyone. We’re really on the playing field.
When we first started the home on Geneva, someone wrote in and was like: does anyone else freak out when Mady and Scout respond back to you here. And we were like, guys we’re one of you!! So i think that’s just something we’ve learned: just really paying attention on a micro level.
Kim: Yea, I think that’s spot on. Especially in the early days, and especially when you’re building a community like the one you are which is so personal. It’s so important to be able to build those relationships with people in a real way.
Okay, changing gears a bit — if you could join any sort of community (whether or not it exists yet), what would it be?
Mady: I’d love to be part of a die-hard romance novel community. Like, really really spicy romance novel community...I’d love, honestly, a whole Geneva community for this, with rooms for like contemporary romance novels, erotica...you know, it gets into the weeds!
Okay, last question — y’all are so tapped into this community of young female podcasters and entrepreneurs. In the early days, how did you start to build your own community of peers?
Mady: We literally just reach out to people we admire. I know that sounds so simple, but I think a lot of people talk themselves out of it even sending an email and don’t even ask. For as many yes’s as we’ve gotten, we’ve gotten twice as many no-responses. From the very beginning, we slid into the DM’s. If you wanna talk to someone, just DM them! I’m not kidding!