It used to be that “word of mouth” marketing was the best kind of marketing and favored by business owners everywhere. The reason why is simple; someone a hearing about how great a product or service was from a friend, family member or colleague was much more likely to purchase that product or service because someone they actually knew told them how great it was.
The Internet hasn’t really changed word-of-mouth marketing but instead enhanced it greatly. Now a person can leave a review for a company or their products and services easily and anonymously and that review goes out not only to the people in their local community but indeed to the entire world. A recent online survey found out that nearly 85% of all consumers not only read online reviews that use them in their purchase making decisions.
That’s a good thing but, as would all good things, it has a bad side as well. The problem is that some business owners are now hiring people to write positive reviews about their services or their companies to either increase their sales or two downplay negative reviews that were left for them. Even worse, some people are leaving false negative reviews in order to damage or sabotage the reputation of a company or product.
That’s the price of online reviews because in the past you would be able to tell if a person was simply bashing a company because they didn’t like it or truly had a bad experience. If you are a consumer and want to know if the online review that your reading is true or not, use the tips below to find out.
- Confirm the identity of the reviewer. Usually the identity of a person reviewing a product or service online will have a reviewer profile as well as a Facebook and/or Twitter account. Sometimes this will be private but even then you should be able to see a Twitter page if a real person is writing the review.
- If you suspect that a review is false, search the reviewer’s past reviews to see if they have used the same language on other reviews or if they purport to be one person in one review and another person in a second review. Content that is similar or duplicated usually means that the review is fraudulent.
- Reviews that a lack any real details are usually false as well as reviews that use a lot of exclamation points in the review or use ALL CAPS much too often.
- If someone is using either excessive praise or negativity it sometimes means that they have been paid to write the review. For example, if someone writes that the new blender that they purportedly purchased is “the absolute best blender I have ever used in my entire life, hands down!!” it’s probably a false review. The same with someone who is trying to damage the reputation of their competitor. Reviews that include lines like “Bob’s cleaning service was so bad that I wouldn’t recommend them to my worst enemy!!” Is probably someone who’s trying to put Bob out of business.
- Look for an overuse of adjectives or “marketing jargon”. Your typical consumer will rarely use a phrase like “thrilling performance” or “unrivaled in its field”. Also you should look out for repetition of the brand name, product or service that seems to be overdone. Many reviewers repeat these words in order to increase the SEO of a review.
If you happen to come upon a review that you suspect is fraudulent there are a number of things you can do including “flagging” the review or reporting the review to the website. For example, on the website Google+ you can use their “flag as inappropriate” button to report what you suspect is a fraudulent review.
Online reviews can certainly be extremely helpful when searching for a new product or service but, as always, you need to be aware of the facts and check to make sure that whoever wrote the review is a person who actually used the product or service and not someone who was paid. It might not be extremely easy but if you use the tips above it certainly is possible.