In the past, we’ve looked into how the star ratings of online reviews are not the only factor that people see when researching products or services to purchase. Eliciting quality written reviews can be a challenge for any small business. But when you’ve cultivated a hyper-loyal and engaged community, online reviews can be a boon to your marketing strategy.

One metric that’s becoming increasingly important to marketers is community engagement. These engagement metrics tend to focus on social media channels like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Yet online reviews are now an essential piece of the social media ecosystem and have a longer lasting impact on a business, than a retweet or a Facebook like. They live on review sites ripe to be consumed by potential customers.

Whether actively trying to earn positive online reviews or not, most small businesses struggle to develop a relationship with their customers. Getting reviews that make others think, “Damn, I need to try this product out!” is the dream, but how can we nurture these types of positive online reviews?

Last week I had the privilege of interviewing Spike Eskin, co-host of the humorous The Rights To Ricky Sanchez, a Philadelphia 76ers focused sports podcast.

Spike, along with his co-host Michael Levin, have stumbled upon a formula, through comedy, authenticity and community engagement that has turned their podcast into a positive review generating machine.

For those of you who have no interest in sports, I get it. While I personally have a passion for my Philadelphia Sports Teams, I understand people who don’t see the entertainment value of sports and look at them as a waste of time. But bare with me, put your skepticism aside, and take a moment to see what insights can be gleaned from this unicorn of a podcast.

The Rights To Ricky Sanchez – A Sports Podcast

In order to understand how online reviews of The Rights To Ricky Sanchez podcast became a home to a vivacious community of sports fans, we need to understand the history of the show in the context of the sports world.

In 2013, the Philadelphia 76ers were going through a change in management. After years of running on the treadmill of mediocrity, fans of the team were craving a new approach to building a competitive team. Instead of taking a measured approach, the new General Manager, Sam Hinkie, decided to take a more radical and long-term strategy, ridding the team of any valuable players in order to benefit from having one of the worst records in the league. By having an awful team, they’d have the chance to draft a few top of the line prospects out of college.

Sixers fans knew that the next few years would produce some ugly basketball, but the long term goals would make it worth it. While most casual fans’ interest in the team waned, a small contingent of fans who understood the long-term view of Hinkie’s plan became fanatical, even cultish. Fans of the team began to live by the mantra:

“Trust the Process.”

In June of 2013, Spike Eskin, a local Philadelphia radio producer, and Michael Levin, a Los Angeles-based TV writer and Sixers Blog, Liberty Ballers, contributor, started the podcast.

Even the name of the show was the result of an inside joke among the Sixers community.