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Podcast Rating & Review Etiquette

Since I launched the Business Building Rockstars Show just under 3-years ago, I’ve been really proud that I’d never gotten less than a 5-star rating, and only positive reviews.


Well, that changed over the weekend!


And it got me thinking that most people probably just don’t understand how reviews are received by podcasters, so that is what my message today is all about.


Let me tell you what happens when a podcaster sees and new 5-star rating and review posted on their iTunes account.


First, they’ll probably take a quicker, deeper breath in than the one just before, then with widened eyes and a smile on their face they’ll lean in to read the review like a child ready to rip open that big gift from Santa on Christmas morning.


They read the review and nod ever so slightly with a smile, relaxing back in the comforting confirmation that what they’re doing actually means something to people, that they’re making a difference in their own small way in the world.


Of course every once in a while there’s the review that truly touches our heart and makes us get up and dance, or write like a maniac about it sharing all of the lessons, or even just pick up our mics and talk about it.


It probably seems like no big deal to the person writing it, but to the person receiving it… well it can be life-giving.


Now let’s talk about what happens when we receive 4-star reviews.


You’d probably expect that getting a 4-star review is really good so we might want to pat ourselves on the back, secure in the knowingness that people think we’re “good”, not great but still good.


If that’s what you think, you’d be wrong.


Try and recall this scenario…


Think back to when you were in high-school and right around the time when grades really mattered. They determined if you’d get to go to college or university and who would have to pay for it. Everyone was picking their top choices, hoping their top choices picked them to.


There may have been classes or times that you really needed to get an A so you studied as  hard as you could, did extra credit, even gave up the TV, video games, and fun times with friends for the cause.


And you got to the point where you were so confident and knew your material front and back, up and down, because you’d put in the sweat equity and you were crushing it… just to be handed a B for your grade?


At that point you weren’t thinking “Well, I still did good”. NO!!


You immediately asked yourself “What did I do wrong”, or “Why is it that no matter how hard I try what I do is never good enough?”, or maybe even “Why doesn’t the teacher like me?”


Or maybe you reacted more like, “Ah screw him. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”, or “She’s an idiot — how did she even get to be a teacher, I’m going to complain.”




We don’t want to see 4-stars when we’re striving for 5, just like kids don’t want to get a B when they’re working for an A.


4-stars isn't “good”, it’s not good enough and it feels bad.


I won’t bother talking specifically about anything less than a 4-star review because frankly, why would you listen to something that’s not your cup of tea?


I find it so bizarre when people leave poor ratings and then take the time out of their lives to leave scathing reviews for podcasts. Seriously guy, if you hate it so much please stop listening! Simply remove your earbuds, press stop, put down your player, and walk away.


There is absolutely nothing you can share that will be appreciated or even considered when you’re coming from a place of anger or hostility, so for the love of everything holy — please do not torture yourself by listening to something you don’t like in order to properly cite all of the problems and things you believe to be wrong in your review.


I promise you there are so many better ways to spend your time.


Now that we’ve covered the basics and what NOT to do, let’s talk about what you should do when you like and frequently listen to a show.


There's very little better in a podcaster’s world then getting a 5-star rating with a sincere, meaningful review of their show from a listener or fan.


I think the only thing that could be better is after leaving the rating and review, letting your people know how enthusiastic you feel about it and letting them in on all the goodness you regularly devour from the podcast. #SpreadTheLove


Now let’s say you’re enjoying a show, for the most part, and it really is a good but not great show. There are two possible paths to take in this case and which one is for you really depends on how you answer these questions:


Why do you keep listening even though you don’t love it, what is the value you are getting?

Is there anything that could be easily improved that would make it 5-stars to you?


If the answer to the last question is no, then there is no reason for you to review the show or for you to do anything else.


I mean, if you don’t like the sound of the host’s voice or the style of their show, or anything like that, that’s your own personal preference so please do not review or reach out about it. Just continue to get the value out of the program you’ve already been getting and call it a day.


If on the other hand your answer is yes, and with some small tweaks it could be a 5-star show for you, and you’d be willing to give the host a 5-star rating and positive review if they make the changes, I’d say there is definitely something for you to do about it!


Let’s talk about that now…


If you like a podcast and feel that it adds value to your life but there are just these one or two little things that drive you nuts and are NOT personal judgments about the host, it could be a great service you give the host to share your feedback in a respectful and “in-service” come-from.


In that the case, what I recommend you do is send the host a private message via email or through whatever social media platform they're active on. Again though, let me emphasize this being a PRIVATE message, letting them know that you are a regular listener and enjoy their show, and ASK if it would be okay with them to share about some constructive feedback.


I'm going to dig deeper into this for you so that it's really clear. Because this is a very, very sensitive situation.


You’ll want to keep in the back of your mind that a podcast is like a baby to its’ creator and you don't want to put them on the defensive.


Most people who feel criticized will already be prepared to fight back about anything you share with them, whereas most people who feel appreciated will be more receptive to at least hearing your opinion.


This is why the first sentence of your message should be pleasing and lets them know that you enjoy and appreciate what they create.


You may even want to add a second sentence praising something specific that you like.


In the third sentence ask them the question, “Would you be open to a suggestion suggestion from a fan?” or “Would you be open to me sharing some constructive feedback?”. Use one of those two questions if you really do care and believe that your feedback can actually HELP them improve their already good show, and is not just for your own ego or because you need to be heard.


If you get a message back that they are open to your feedback, do make sure it’s helpful and constructive, and deliver it in a way that can easily digest it.


If you have lots to say, consider just sharing a high level observation and offer to be more specific if they’d like. This is really helpful because independent podcasters invest their own time and money into creating their production and may have no idea about how to improve the thing you bring up. When feedback or advice is received in this way, most people are very appreciative of it.


Here’s an example of what this could look like if you have a problem with the audio quality of a show…


Reach out to the podcaster PRIVATELY and and ask if they’re open to your feedback as previously outlined in this episode. Assuming they say yes, you could say…


“Great! I’m really glad you said yes because I really feel like my suggestion can help you make your podcast which is already so valuable even more so!

I’ve noticed that on some of your episodes the audio quality isn’t so great and it really takes away from the content in my opinion.


I’d be happy to share some more specific feedback about simple tweaks that can be made to improve it if you’d like.”


Now if I were to receive a message like that you better believe I’d be open to more! And not only OPEN to more but appreciative that the listener went out of their way to help me!


Folks, THIS is how we build relationships. THIS is the sort of thing people do who you see as “overnight successes”. THIS is how to ADD VALUE to an influencer’s life in a meaningful way.


From that point you now have an open window to share your expertise and help the podcaster produce something that will make it a 5-star show for you.


Now if you did NOT get a response from your initial outreach or if the podcaster says no or sidesteps your ask altogether, that’s ok. It isn’t that they are trying to disrespect you. There could be a million reasons why they haven’t responded but I’ll encourage you to assume that they are already overwhelmed and simply don’t have the bandwidth to manage anymore helpful feedback. It’s not about you.


Then decide if you still want to listen, even with the aspects you don’t care for, or instead search for a different show that is already 5-stars to you.


I’d love to hear your thoughts on this episode, and how it goes for you when you apply it so definitely drop your comments into the comment section below.