Dealing With Bad Reviews – Turning a Negative Into a Positive
I embarked on a writing challenge at the start of the year. My plan is to write a new 100-word story every day. Initially, I was going to keep them to myself and maybe publish them some day. But, I decided that it was best if I shared them on Facebook.
Why? Because I wanted feedback. I wanted people to judge my writing. I want to hear the positive and the negative, because – ultimately – that will make me a better writer.
And it’s the same for your podcast. Getting iTunes reviews is a critical factor to being discovered by your ideal audience.
The more positive reviews you have – the more likely it is that you’ll appear high in the rankings for your category of show.
But the very existence of reviews is something that holds back many would-be podcasters. They are scared of the prospect of negative reviews.
Why Do People Give Bad Reviews?
In my experience, people leave bad reviews for two reasons. They either want to offer a critique, or they want to be cruel.
Those that critique your show are doing you a favour – they are pointing out areas for improvement. See past the slight and learn the lessons.
But we also have to accept that from time-to-time, the bad reviews will just be cruel and spiteful with no logical reason given.
How to React
So what do you do when you get a bad review? First of all crying or being depressed is not an option.
While you can’t respond directly to a negative iTunes review, you can indirectly respond by approaching the subject of a negative review in a future podcast.
This shows that you’re listening to your audience. If the bad review has no merit or appears personal in nature, you can report an individual review to iTunes and request its removal. The reasons for doing so will fall under one of the following categories.
- This review contains offensive content
- This review is not a review or is off-topic
- I disagree with this review
- My concern isn’t listed here
I would only recommend that options 1 & 2 from the above are valid reasons for going down this route.
If the review is published on your website, you can, of course, respond more directly to the person that left the comment. Keep it civil.
I wouldn't use the comments to get into a war of words. But having a dialogue to better understand their issue could help you make improvements to your show.
In cases where the review is either difficult to comprehend or is of a personal nature, the best approach is to ignore them. Move on. Nothing to see here. Don’t waste your time trying to draw deeper meaning where none exists.
Brush yourself down and get on with the job of creating another great show.
Identify the negative reviews that you can learn from. Be honest. Read the review with an open mind. Does their review have merit?
Pull out the lessons you can learn and start applying them to your show. Remember – bad reviews can genuinely help make your show better.
This is a classic `good news – bad news` situation. First the bad news – it’s highly likely that you’ll receive some negative reviews. It’s just the nature of the world we live in. Podcasts, just like music and films, are hugely personal in nature. Some people will just not like your show.
But here’s the good news – produce a great show, and your positive reviews will far outweigh the negative ones.
Tips to get More Reviews
Actually getting reviews, be they good or bad, can be tricky. In most cases, reviews don’t happen automatically. You have to ask for them.
Ask for Them in Your Show
At the end of your show, let your audience know how important reviews are. Be honest, tell them that their reviews will help your show rank higher in iTunes. Make it clear that you’re asking for an honest review and constructive feedback.
Ask for Them in Your Show Notes
Replicate the message in your show notes and include a direct link to your show within iTunes. Make it as easy as possible for them to leave a review.
Ask in Emails
If you have a regular (weekly, monthly etc) e-mail that you send out to your audience, make sure you have a standard section that reminds your audience of how important reviews are to you.
Read Reviews on Your Podcast
Reading out a review of your show, on your show can help. It demonstrates how important they are to you and it can be used to encourage others to do the same.
Run a Competition
You can encourage reviews by running a competition. For example, everyone that submits a review will automatically be entered into a prize draw for a book. It’s low cost, and can produce great results.
Don’t make drastic decisions based on a single negative review. But, if a pattern emerges and many people are saying the same thing, it’s probably a good indicator of a change you really should make.
Ensure that you have balance, though. Celebrate the good reviews and keep a personal bank of the reviews that have meant the most to you. Dip into those when you have a bad review and remind yourself of just how well you’re doing.
Have reviews influenced the way you work? Let us know what you think in the comments box below.