Fake Online Reviews Are Growing

by Jeannie Walters

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According to a recent study by Gartner, between 10 – 15% of all social media reviews will be fake by 2014.

“Many marketers have turned to paying for positive reviews with cash, coupons and promotions including additional hits on YouTube videos in order to pique site visitors’ interests in the hope of increasing sales, customer loyalty and customer advocacy through social media ‘word of mouth’ campaigns.” – Jenny Sussin, senior research analyst at Gartner

This seems insane to me. But I don’t disagree this is where we’re heading.

But it makes me really, really angry. And disappointed. And sad.

More than ever, we are turning to our own cultivated networks for advice and information. The second group we turn to? The strangers who post reviews online.

So if marketers and crafty types (sometimes one in the same!) will ruin this by prompting reviews worth nothing? Ugh. The damage is lasting. Trust is broken.

What can you do? If you are responsible for your organization’s social media channels, be diligent about monitoring. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. And if you ask, ask for honest feedback! Some of the best social customer service is handled publicly, when an authentic Don’t force reviews or reward inauthentic feedback.

The days of pushing out your organization’s official stance or product review and calling it “marketing” are so far over, it feels like 2005 just to write that! If you are even thinking about writing a review under the pseudonym Fakey McFakerson…please don’t. Karma, baby! Someone will make sure you pay.

So why do so many organizations fight it? Control is with your customers. The only way you have a chance as an organization is to allow for trust both ways. Lying to your customers is just that – lying. They will find out and take their trust (and dollars) elsewhere.

I hope we can reverse the trend and prove Gartner wrong on this one. Who’s with me?

Photo credits: the|G| and Thomas Hawk via Creative Commons license

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Jeannie Walters

Jeannie Walters is the CEO/Founder of Experience Investigators, a global Customer Experience consulting firm. She has 20 years of experience helping companies improve loyalty and retention, employee engagement, and overall customer experience. Jeannie is a Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP,) a charter member of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA,) a Professional Member of the National Speakers Association, LinkedIn Learning instructor, TEDx speaker, and President-Elect of the National Speakers Association Illinois chapter. Learn more here.

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