How to fix fake reviews?

Category: Content

Friday July 3rd, 2015

Depending on the business sector you are in, online reviews can be very powerful. Hotels and restaurants rely on their TripAdvisor ranking, while retailers on Amazon and other websites look for good reviews to help boost sales.

Many other businesses use testimonials or reviews on their websites to give potential customers an insight into the quality of service they deliver. A video testimonial is probably the most powerful way to have a third party – usually a happy customer – tell others, in their own words, about how pleased they are with your goods or services.

Positive reviews or testimonials also need to be shared effectively, so that maximum benefit can be gained from them. That often means sharing them via social media, email newsletters and other company web pages.

So, how believable are online reviews? In the same way that a Channel 4 TV programme in 2013 exposed fake Facebook endorsements – fans could be bought for £12.99 per 500 – so a new legal battle has exposed the unhappy business of fake online reviews. While they can be very helpful for consumers, there are always fears that they are simply being generated falsely to promote products unfairly.

The issue of fake reviews came to a head in April, with online selling giant Amazon filing a lawsuit in the USA against companies that allegedly create and sell positive product reviews. The Washington court case names a number of websites that offer to create false reviews of Amazon products. The lawsuit filing notes that while such organisations are small in number, they do begin to undermine the validity of genuine reviews. Amazon says the reviews “threaten to undermine the trust that customers, and the vast majority of sellers and manufacturers, place in Amazon, thereby tarnishing Amazon’s brand.”

One online site, offering to sell Amazon reviews, even boasts: “We have already 10000+ posted reviews and 25000+ helpful votes.” The problem is, all of these are false, and are created by people who have not actually bought or experienced the goods they are saying were so great.

Most sites that carry online reviews do have ways of detecting what they consider to be false reviews. One method is to only allow reviews from actual buyers, as some hotel review sites now do. Only if there is evidence of an online transaction at a particular hotel, can the customer’s review be accepted for publication.
One key point here is that there is no problem with encouraging your actual customers to get online, and post a review. Many authors do just this – perhaps launching their book with a temporary give away or price reduction to encourage sales, followed by a request to give a review. It is an accepted tactic to give a newly written book the visibility and credibility it needs, to gain further sales traction.

So, if you are looking to get the most from testimonials or reviews, but have concerns about how to gather them effectively, then use them as part of your marketing campaign, call Horizon. We’re experienced at handling such things, and are here to help.