The internet is an amazing place for businesses. Before, all you had were your good ol' classified ads in the newspaper. You couldn't even leave your brick-and-mortar shop if you wanted to advertise yourself! Luckily, the digital wave has affected even small businesses and made it a lot easier for them to show off products and services.
Or… did it?
Although the marketing reach has definitely been wider, there are still some troublemakers that tend to pull businesses down. Yep, we are talking about fake reviews and unfortunately, they do exist.
As the name suggests, fake reviews are posts created by people who have nothing to do with the product or service being reviewed or who may not even exist.
They can be overly negative or positive depending on the perpetrator's purpose.
Today, there are a lot of ways your business can be reviewed online. You have Yelp, Google Reviews, Social Media Page Reviews, etc. Customers can use these platforms to give criticisms or compliments on your business.
The problem is that almost anyone can make an account online nowadays. And if they post a fake review, the internet almost always sides with the reviewers first before the businesses. And this can drastically impact the impression that prospective customers can have on your business.
Checking the background of the reviewer is one technique to establish its credibility. Verify the reviewer's claimed affiliation with their social media or review site profile before drawing any conclusions (if available).
Track things like when and where they signed up, how often they log in, what they review, where they work, and what social media accounts they use. Does it seem like a genuine profile or a fake one? If your answer is "no," it's a warning sign. Flag the review.
Paying attention to the finer details is yet another method for spotting fakes. Those who have actually used the product or service are much more likely to detail their experience in detailed reviews. How did they find out about the store, and what are some ways they've used the product or service?
A review is more likely to be fake if the reviewer doesn't offer concrete examples or doesn't appear to have a firm grasp on their experience with your product or service.
The review is definitely fake if it reads like a press release or piece of advertising writing. Be wary of any brand, product name, or product model that is mentioned too frequently or out of context.
Locating reviewers who have commented on multiple products in a certain category is also helpful. For instance, if a person suddenly reviewed a dozen laptops in a short period, that reviewer was probably paid to do fake reviews.
Look for unusual language that no average person would use to recognise bogus reviews. You can assume that the review is fake if they use extreme phrases. No matter how much a person adores a product, they will not use overly positive and superlative descriptions.
It's no secret that people on the internet have strong feelings about many topics. As such, you should be wary of online reviews that sound either too fantastic to be true or too awful.
There is rarely a clear dichotomy between positive and negative client experiences, and this is typically reflected in reviews. Even individuals who had a bad experience can provide helpful comments on a specific component of it, and those who had a good one might highlight areas for development. So a review being too black or white can be a red flag.
Here are some other ways to deal with a fake review for your business.
Look at the comments objectively. Do you think this complaint was possible at all in your business? Check the timestamps, the complaint details, and the works. If this was obviously a fake review, take a screenshot of the profile and the content. It's also better if you can actually check your team's status by referencing the time when the complaint happened. For example, if the fake review said you had bad service on a Friday, check your own cameras or interview your employees on the day.
Most review websites have a "flag review" feature where business owners can challenge whether the review was legit or not. This is where your screenshots and reports come in. Attach all relevant files and explain as objectively as possible why you think this review is false.
Now, this seems counter-intuitive, but you have to do this. Remember that review pages are like a blood sport: everyone wants to watch what happens. So, use this to your advantage! Reply as professionally as possible to the reviewer, offer to contact them directly to resolve this, and thank them for their time.
Always respond to your reviews, especially negative ones. This will establish your business as someone who actively listens and tries to fix things which is always a great way to showcase brand rapport.
Hopefully, the reviewer will just feel bad at this point and take down the review. If not, at least you've shown your customers that you take them seriously and respond well (and gracefully at that, too).
According to studies, one bad review isn't enough to tank your business. In fact, studies have shown that positive reviews tend to affect sentiments more than negative ones.
It's also important to remember that getting a bad review is not the end of the world. It can even help to create more credibility within your business. After all, all 5-star reviews don't look natural. Even if you believe your product or service to be perfect, it's still more natural to have bad reviews here and there.
Lastly, run some email marketing to get past customers to leave good reviews. Over time, the bad ones will be buried and forgotten.
Hopefully, the information above has been a little helpful. It's clear that fake reviews are out there, but don't let that discourage you from getting real reviews. The more authentic feedback you can get from previous customers, the better your chances of converting them and other prospective customers into loyal patrons of your brand.
Don't feel bad if you get a fake review. Better yet, prepare yourself better (i.e. set up Google Alerts, check review sites regularly, etc.) Fake reviews can never take a good business down!
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