Buying Reviews: Why it’s such a big deal

We’ve all seen the reviews, you know the ones, always 5 stars shouting about how the product was ‘life changing’ and boasts about how brilliant it is whilst not actually saying much about what is does. Like this one.

http://www.amazon.com/NatureWise-Coffee-Extract-Natural-Supplement/dp/B009VUZJTM
Source: Amazon Product page

Just by reading it we can tell that this is a fake review.

It can also go the other way, where competitors reach out and pay for negative reviews to by posted such as this one.

Source: http://affordablereputationmanagement.blogspot.com.au/2013/03/what-to-do-about-google-fake-reviews.html
Source: http://affordablereputationmanagement.blogspot.com.au/2013/03/what-to-do-about-google-fake-reviews.html

In relation to e-commerce the general concept behind a review is quite simply, it’s “an opportunity to rate and comment on products they have purchased” which other consumers can than read and take into consideration when making their own purchases.

It’s natural for marketers to want to make their product or service look the best, this has brought about the ethically questionable practice of buying reviews and with a PR firm Weber Shandwick finding that 83% of consumers say that online reviews do impact their perception of a company or a product, you can see why. There are a number of sites online where companies do actually advertise for review writers I know Craig’s List is a big one but there are also a number of lesser know sites such as short task, click worker.

You may be thinking that a couple of reviews don’t make much difference, I mean most of us could probably pick out a fake review anyway but “… a University of California study found that a Yelp rating increase of just half a star (on a scale of one to five) increased the likelihood of a restaurant selling out its 7:00 p.m. booking from 30 percent to 49 percent“ (National Ethics Association, 2012), not all people actually look at reviews some do just look at star ratings.

Ethics is not only for the big issues but for everyday life, we use ethical consideration when we thinking about how we will act, what decisions we will make. I wonder if marketers and those involved in this practice do truly consider the impact that fake reviews could make, not only on the choices of consumers but also on the company itself should consumers become aware.

If the general public find out about company’s buying reviews either to promote their own product or to take down a competitors product, it does have the potential to bring down your business. Consumers may boycott you and spread negative feedback around which can destroy the businesses reputation so is it really worth it?

Have a think and let me know from the perspective of a marketer (ignoring ethics) do you see any value in fake reviews and then taking ethics into account do you think it would be worth the risk?
Personally have you ever encountered a fake review and accidentally based your decision on it?

Thanks for reading 🙂

If you want to know what to look out for in identifying fake reviews feel free to check out the link below
http://www.techlicious.com/tip/how-to-tell-if-a-review-is-fake/
If you’re thinking about buying reviews here’s some more information to consider
http://www.inc.com/michael-fertik/buying-fake-online-review-6-things-to-know.html 

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10 thoughts on “Buying Reviews: Why it’s such a big deal

  1. A lot of the time when searching YouTube there will be a video where the reviewer is over excited and is clearly being paid buy the company to say good things about it. Often checking the comments on the review video, a lot of other people would have already noticed and will be cracking jokes at how the reviewer is being paid. So checking the comments help. Have you seen comments like these before?

    Also, very good point you made on how it ruins a businesses reputation if they are found to have posted fake reviews.

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    • This is what I thought about when writing this funnily enough, I watch a lot of vlogs and it really annoys me when people who I have great respect for out of the blue start endorsing a product and saying it’s so great when they have never even mentioned it before… then I look in the ‘extras’ box and it says about how they are being paid to endorse it. Really they are supposed to say if they are somewhere, apparently you can get in quite a bit of trouble if you dont mention that you are receiving some benefit for the endorsement.
      Check here http://www.podlegal.com.au/disclosure-requirements-for-bloggers-and-internet-advertisers-a-lesson-from-australia-post/ if you’re interested
      Thanks for your comment 🙂

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      • Looks like Aus Post are in some trouble! Do you think they told the instagrammers to disclose that they were being paid? I think Instagram promoters are blatantly obvious, posting selfies with products that have nothing to do with their instagram or what they normally post. Do you also think that Australia Post will be benefited in promoting their company on Instagram? I mean they are a postal company haha.

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    • (sorry for replying here it wouldn’t give me a reply button on your lower post)
      I doubt they asked their instagrammers to disclose, even if they did I doubt those on instagram would actually care enough to disclose, I don’t think they would want to put it out there that they did a paid post for a postal service… it’s not really that awesome is it?
      As for if they would be benefiting from it, again I doubt it like you pointed out they are a postal company for them to be benefiting they advertising from instagram would either have to support sending ‘snail mail’, using AusPost for sending and delivering parcels or advertising their over priced stationary.
      I can see that most of the instagrammers are younger so I suppose really it could be trying to entice a ‘younger generation’ to use their services rather than other postal service/couriers.
      So thinking about it really they may have benefited a very small amount but I really don’t believe it would be anything substantial.
      that’s for the reply 🙂

      Like

  2. Great post Nat! I have actually never come across a fake negative review before and I didn’t even realise companies would actually pay for negative reviews against their competitors. I think from an ethical point of view its obviously not the right thing to do but I don’t think its very beneficial from a marketing perspective either because at the end of the day if you’re only attracting customers because of the bad things you’re saying about someone else rather than the actual value you’re delivering to your customers then eventually people are going to catch on.

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    • I’ve come across a couple not nearly as many as I have the fake positive reviews but enough to see that it does happen and you make a very good point and you’re right, I always wondered why companies would bother paying for negative reviews if they are that unconfident in themselves and their business than why would even bother to open and at the end of the day your right people do find out and when they do it will be a PR nightmare and chances are the business will probably go under or a least face severe backlash.
      Thanks for the comment

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    • Quite a large number of fake reviews are paid for by the company to give it a better reputation so as to why they have reviews it’s because they’re paid for but you’re correct if a customer were to find out the reviews were fake and the product or service on offer is terrible then they would be really annoyed and as negative feedback spreads quickly the company reputation would drop fairly quickly
      thanks for the comment

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  3. Reading reviews has been large part of my buying ritual for some time now, the more money the item or service.. The more time I will spend researching.
    I have heard that Tripadvisor has a large community of fake reviews, they may not necessarily be paid to do so but Tripadvisor is largely made up of comments linked to a Facebook account.
    It is so easy for users to create fake Facebook accounts and to then pose as legitimate customers giving a good or great review.
    However the goal is not always to promote but to defame or shame, the bad reviews on sites can be fake too to purposely put off potential consumers. It’s a dirty tactic but fierce competition can bring out the worst in people/companies.
    I know I treat Instagram as almost a review hub, to see products on other people and what they say about it. Except 9 times out 10 they’re probably a fake review, yes the person may like the product but in more cases than not these days… People are being paid to review an item or simply just post a photo of the item and tag them, as well as putting a positive spin on the product or service (regardless of their actual feelings).
    Any tips for catching out those fake reviewers?

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    • With sites like Amazon I tend to click on the reviewer and look at their review history anyone who always gives 5 out of 5 star or 1 out of 1 consistently I treat as a fake review.
      I pay very little attention to endorsements via youtube or any well know person to be honest like you said chances are they are paid to say it.
      If you’re uncertain in a positive review if they use lots of capital letters, exclamation marks (lots not just one), rave about how it’s changes their life or say all these brilliant things but don’t actually say what the product… then it’s probably fake.
      On the flip side for a negative review, look for one liners, any one line review I take as fake reasonable people generally may say yes it was terrible but there is either one or two redeeming factors or they will go through their experience to show why it’s horrible. Never trust a one liners.
      These are just my personal experience, you can always check out this site http://newsfeed.time.com/2013/09/25/how-to-spot-a-fake-review-4-clues-somethings-fishy/ or a number of others to get a good idea on what to look for.
      If it is for amazon and you’re not sure about a product you can have a look at http://www.fakespot.com/ to see how many fake reviews are detected… maybe it’ll help you decide.
      Hope this helped 🙂

      Like

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