Social media has given us a great and easy way to do research on whatever we want to buy, eat and do. Thanks to the tremendous amount of online reviews we can make a smart choice.
But even when you do a thorough amount of research, disappointments are inevitable. It might happen that you have a different opinion on what good quality is or that the waiter who served you just didn’t have his or her day. But these are exceptions, especially if you know how to read and filter the reviews.
But there’s another risk hiding in this online research: fake reviews. According to a research conducted by Gartner, by 2014 10-15% of the social media reviews will be paid for by companies, and therefore fake.
Recently there have been several fake review incidents that got media attention. Only two weeks ago a San Francisco restaurant closed its doors as a result of fake Yelp reviews. According to the restaurant owners people wrote vicious reviews about food they never served. Another reviewer rated the restaurant with one star because he hated the color of the t-shirts worn by the staff….
Furthermore there’s the story of a successful author that decided to give faith a helping hand; he created pen names to promote his own books. Under these accounts he would go onto forums and have a discussion with his different characters about his books. By doing so he created a (fake) fan base and buzz about his work, which ranked his books higher in search results and boosted sales.
For now, if you look at it on a broader scale, these seem to be incidents. But things are changing quickly and review sites are hardly taking any action against fake reviews. This will only change when it starts to effect their sales. So where can you get reliable reviews in the future? The best solution is consulting your own community, because in general, these are the people we trust. And trust is key when it comes reviews.
Status updates on Facebook with requests for recommendations on a trip to London or tips for the purchase of a new road bike will further increase. Because you’d rather trust your uncle or colleague instead of ‘Jolly4u’ or ‘Rave Dave’ when it comes to important decisions. Or actually, probably any decision.