Before You Get Mad at Me, Read This
Let me preface this by saying, I LOVE being a part of the podcasting groups on Facebook and offering advice. Even though I am about to caution you against them, I love them. I am active in them, I answer questions in them, and I even seek advice from them. So before you jump to conclusions, remember that I am starting from a place of love.
So if I love them so much, why am I concerned about them? The truth is, I have seen some folks who rely too much on Facebook groups. They can’t make a single move without consulting these groups. The good news is, someone is always available to answer. However, the greatest strength of the podcasting community, its willingness to help, is also one of its hidden flaws.
When Facebook Advice from Groups Work
When someone has a technical question, it’s great to consult these groups and receive a response in mere minutes. Many of us have been podcasting for a while, so we’ve already made the mistakes people ask about and can offer expert guidance.
Great example and this comes up a lot, people wondering why their latest episode hasn’t shown up in the iTunes store. First-time podcasters, present company included, don’t realize that when you release a new episode it will always appear in your feed. However, it can take Apple 24-48 hours to refresh your store listing, both on the web and in iTunes itself. This is a great example of how previous experience and wisdom can assist a fellow podcaster facing a potential crisis.
Or maybe your audio player isn’t showing up in your first episode post on WordPress. (Another actual issue I faced) An experienced podcaster can quickly point out that all you need to do is add [powerpress] to the post. Thankfully, someone else made the mistake before and I could benefit from their experience
These groups are a great source for solving FAQs and universal technical issues. They are a great place to poll members if you are stuck between two logo designs. The discussions can provide you with new ideas for marketing your show or a better way to format the title. You don’t have to listen to all of the advice, but the conversations can provide phenomenal insight. So we agree, there is a tremendous benefit to being a part of them
So What’s the Problem?
The problem quickly arises when you seek the advice of these groups and are bombarded with people who are more eager to prove their knowledge than actually help you. The ones who insist that their suggestion has to be the best because it worked for them. Content creation is not black and white. And podcasting is not a one size fits all medium. In fact, diverse and creative content strategies are part of podcasting’s charm.
For example, let’s talk about the most important piece of equipment to podcasters, the microphone. If someone pops into a Facebook group and asks “what microphone should I get?” It’s easy to list your favorite one and share an affiliate link. But, what if the person is on a budget? What if they plan on podcasting remotely? What if they plan on recording in a really noisy space? These are all factors that should go into the decision.
Yes, it’s easy to suggest an ATR-2100 mic to first-time podcasters on a budget. But first-time and on a budget are important distinctions in that decision. They speak volumes to the needs of that podcaster. But if someone asks that question and provides no context, you could be steering them down the wrong path and wasting their time and money.
But Wait There’s More
In another example, I recently answered some innocent questions about reviews in a podcast group. An easy technical question with a universal response. This led to the two of us chatting offline and discussing this person’s long-term podcasting goals. A more than 2-hour phone call where I learned the history of this person, their show, business, and their goals for podcasting.
Following that call, I made some suggestions and drafted a podcasting proposal to help this person relaunch their show. I admit some of my ideas rattled them but based on everything we talked about it made sense to take some dramatic steps to relaunch.
This person wisely wanted to get a second opinion. As you always should. I assumed that meant talking to another podcast professional. Either another consultant or coach with years of experience in this field. But instead, they simply posted more questions in a Facebook group without the extensive background and context they provided me. And of course, the “experts” were quick to jump in and insist on new strategies without any regard for the clients’ broader concerns. They simply wanted to be the quickest and loudest response. And I fear they are leading this client down a flawed and costly path.
Sure, we can say the client is at fault for relying on strangers who have limited information, but it’s also easy to get swept up by the false confidence. And as podcasters looking to support each other, it is our responsibility to identify when someone is making a mistake and put them back on the right path. The good news, 90% of the podcast experts/consultants/veterans will do this. But their expertise is in high demand and so they may not see your post and be able to help. They want to. And not because they want to sign you and charge you. They simply want the industry to thrive as a whole.
So, What Now?
Your podcast is your brand. It’s public and it represents you. If you don’t take it seriously it could damage your reputation. Treat it like everything else you value. You wouldn’t run to Facebook for specific legal advice, tax questions, or health concerns. (At least you shouldn’t) So why would you ask random strangers about a product that could make or break your brand?
Instead, make sure you find a professional. Ask about their experience. Check their references. And make sure they are asking lots of questions about your needs and not just providing cookie cutter solutions that benefit them. There’s value in doing the job right!
And to you fake experts out there. My guess is you probably haven’t read this far, but if you did, please adjust your strategy. Don’t tell people that your way is the only way. Suggest instead that you’ve had success doing it this way and offer to answer any questions. Don’t race to provide the first response. Instead focus on how you can help the community, not your reputation. And please, stop focusing on solutions that benefit your wallet. Just because you have an affiliate link, doesn’t make it the right solution for everyone else.
So I guess this was less about Facebook groups and more just about find the right help. These Facebook groups are an amazing source of insight and wisdom. Just be on the lookout for folks who are more interested in their reputation than your finished product. Now that you’ve read this, it will be easy to spot them.
And don’t hesitate to email me if you have a question. I am truly happy to help someone become successful in podcasting.
This article was written by Mathew Passy, Podcast Producer/Consultant at MPassy Productions