News Would you buy fake five-star reviews? BBC report

Discussion in 'Business News & Resources' started by Cody, Apr 30, 2018.

  1. Cody


    Feb 17, 2016
    I have just seen on the BBC website an article about Fake five-star reviews being bought and sold online.

    It said that under a BBC investigation, they were able to purchase a fake five-star review placed onto Trustpilot, a review site funnily enough. And, as well as buying fake reviews, there were even reports of forums where Amazon shoppers are given full refunds for a review; both sites don't tolerate fake reviews.

    Why exactly would you want to purchase a fake review?

    Repeat Business

    One reason may be because it can make you look popular, and bring you more customers long term. In other words repeat business and sales.

    Building a level of trust online is crucial to a buyers purchasing decision. Chances are they're more likely to purchase from a site with 100s of great reviews, compared to one with little to no reviews at all, especially if the reviews are negative.

    It's been estimated that online reviews influence a £23 billion UK customer spend each year. If a huge portion of these are influenced by fake reviews then that's a ton of money being made in an unethical way.

    Whatever happened to honest marketing?

    Is it really fair that businesses like this make a massive profit out of fake reviews compared to a business that puts a lot of effort into their marketing strategy, and possibly miss out on this gain?

    Purchasing fake reviews may look great for your business, and sure may help your SEO, ranking you highly on Google, however it seems that sooner or later this could have a potential impact.

    The likes of Trustpilot has software in place that works "around the clock to automatically identify and remove fakes."

    I tend to treat 'Reviews' the same way I treat 'Likes' and 'Followers' on social media pages. There are business pages with thousands of fans and followers that they've bought, and whilst this may make them look popular and influence a particular decision to organic customers, it still has one MASSIVE problem.

    The issue being you are not building on your current user retention and community. Out of all of those thousands of fake reviews, likes and followers you have, are any of them bringing any benefit to your business? Are those thousands of paid-for fans reading your content and purchasing your products?

    The answer here would be no. They're not reading your content. They're not bringing any form of benefit to you at all. All you have there is a stale business and marketing strategy that just doesn't work.

    No more freebies.

    Amazon and eBay sellers use to incentivise their buyers with free goodies in exchange for good reviews. And whilst this may actually seem like a good and honest approach, focusing on organic reviews and likes is more beneficial to your site. Again, at least these honest people will stick around and purchase from you again.

    Amazon stopped this from happening in 2016 on their marketplace, however this still didn't stop the problem. These sellers went to the like of Facebook, creating groups encouraging users to purchase a product from them, leave a review then get a full refund.

    It just seems too many sellers these days don't care about building relationships with their buyers, or even focus on customer retention. All they care about is building a false brand image online, which doesn't really give your a long term strategy.

    Build relations

    Although a strategy like this, purchasing fake five-star reviews, may seem like a great short-term strategy to build your presence and improve sales, the chances are your business is most likely to fail. Google, eBay, Amazon and other marketplaces are improving their software to remove fake reviews automatically.

    Instead of trying to beat the system, just get back to basics and start to build relationships with your customers.

    Reach out once in a while.
    Ask for feedback.
    Don't be too "salesy" or forceful in your approach.

    Have you come across any fake reviews online, and have you ever purchased any? We want to hear your stories.
    Last edited: May 17, 2018
  2. Gary


    Aug 22, 2009
    I don't think we'll see anybody admitting to buying reviews, though I agree it's a trick which less people are falling for these days so hopefully spreading the news that some reviews are faked will hopefully leave more people thinking and feeling as such and looking further/deeper before buying.
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