Angry fans are review-bombing podcasts with one-star reviews, and podcasters have nowhere to turn for help.
A story of how one true crime podcast recently saw their star rating plummet was profiled in The Verge this week.
The podcast was blasted with negative reviews after the host’s criticism of another true crime podcast was featured in a major newspaper.
The story speaks to a larger issue in the podcast space, which is the lack of any protection in place to combat malicious reviews.
In other industries where star ratings wield substantial influence, there are failsafes in place to thwart off coordinated attacks.
For example, if platforms such as Facebook and Yelp detect a business is being unfairly targeted with negative reviews they’ll temporarily suspend the ability to leave reviews.
Let’s say a local business was featured in the news for something people didn’t agree with. People may try to damage the business’s reputation by inundating it with negative reviews.
Here’s an example of what you’d see in Facebook and Yelp when this type of thing occurs:
In a case like this, people are leaving their opinion of the news story and not their opinion of the customer experience.
That’s exactly the problem going on in podcasting right now. Established, successful podcasts are seeing their review scores drop overnight and there’s nowhere to turn for help.
Coordinated attacks like these don’t just hurt listenership, in some cases they hurt morale to the point that host gives up entirely.
A one-star rating campaign against a podcast hosted by two journalists caused them to quit after realizing there was nothing they could do about it.
Taylor Lorenz, one of the podcast hosts, explains:
“There’s no recourse with something like this. There’s nothing we could do, so we just quit doing the podcast shortly after. It’s definitely when I emotionally just gave up on podcasting.”
Attempts to reach out to report the harassment to Apple support have not resulted in any kind of action.
If you should ever find yourself in a situation where the podcast you’ve worked hard on is being attacked with negative reviews – keep this next part in mind.
Advertisers Don’t Care About Negative Reviews
Review-bombing may continue to hurt podcaster morale until there are greater protections in place, but apparently it won’t hurt revenue.
The Verge’s story contains comments from an executive at a major podcasting agency who says advertisers care about downloads, not reviews.
A consistent, loyal audience means more than review stars when it comes to where advertisers decide to spend money.
A coordinated attack of one-star reviews is unlikely to impact a company’s decision to advertise with a specific podcast.
However, there should still be measures in place to fend off malicious reviews. A low rating may prevent new listeners from subscribing to a podcast, which can then impact the ability to attract larger advertisers in the future.
That’s why there should be stronger measures in place, but until they are, try not to let malicious reviews damage morale too much if you happen to receive them.