How to take a bad review and turn it into something good for both yourself and your show.
“Not good. Stupidest podcast ever.” – Parker
This was an actual review we got on our show, Campfire Sht Show, in the summer of 2020. There it was, dangling for all to see. Bad reviews are like a weird poppy seed stuck in the mouth of a podcast. Everyone knows it’s there and can see it, but no one knows if you should address it or just keep moving forward. In this article, we will provide a few things to consider when your “Parker” shows up and leaves a negative review.
1. Is this reviewer even real?
Before you get your feathers ruffled, it’s important to consider the source. Is the reviewer an actual human, a bot, or a competitor trying to put a ding on your reputation? In full disclosure, I think Parker is my co-host’s bitter ex-girlfriend. So often, a negative review that gives no context can just be someone hiding behind the internet and projecting their unresolved issues into review, whether it’s through Apple Podcasts, Instagram or another platform. Or, are they a listener that has somehow turned into a hater, or a previous guest that feels wronged by or rejected by the show? Quite possibly, it can be no one that you know personally, and just a random internet stranger who really feels as though you truly are the stupidest podcast ever. By understanding the “who” behind the comment, that can help you decide how much stock you want to put in the review.
2. Is there anything to learn from what they say?
You’ve determined it’s a real-life human, and they mean what they say. Sure, it stings to not be liked, but it is part of the game. As podcasters, we know that it’s all about putting yourself out there for the world to consume and hopefully be entertained by. If their critique is one you hear frequently by numerous people, you may benefit from seeing if there is an element of truth to it. For example, a negative review about audio issues or guest bookings may be a lot more informative than someone just writing: “I don’t like it.” If negative reviews on one topic seem to be a trend, it doesn’t mean you have to quit or give up, just that you may want to wholeheartedly listen to your audience and see if there is something you can tweak to make your podcast more listener-friendly.
3. Can you turn it into content?
For podcasts that have segments where you feature listener reviews or questions, consider including the not so great ones in an earnest and entertaining way. I happened to hear from the great Todd Cochrane himself during the Podcast Movement on how he folded a negative reviewer into his Geek News Central podcast, and made him a hilarious part of the content. Jimmy Kimmel is the master of this, making his “Mean Tweets” segment one of the more popular ones of his shows. As humans, we all get our feelings hurt sometimes, and it makes us feel less alone when we are open and transparent about it.
4. Move forward with positive reviews and an open(ish) heart.
If the negative reviews are stacking up and you aren’t in agreement with what they are writing, find three or four trusted friends or colleagues and send them your show, asking for honest feedback. Bonus points if it’s other podcasters or someone that listens to a ton of shows, since they can give a more critical and experienced listen. If you want to pad up your reviews or positive comments, find others in your sphere who also have projects you can review and ask to do a swap. I love swapping great reviews for friends who have books, music or art pieces that I find good. I send them my link and tell them it’s no pressure, but if they are called to listen and share why they like our show, I’d appreciate it. Either way, I’ll give them a little love on their endeavors.
Through sites like Blubrry, you can also watch your listeners grow through analytics and you will know your numbers are accurate. This can help you determine if negative reviews really are impacting your show, or if it’s just a blip on the radar of a long career in podcasting.
Let us know how you handle negative reviews, and if you’ve had any Parkers in your life!