The list of places where you can review a business today is endless. But in a world that relies on social proof, are these reviews relevant?
You can share your opinion of a business on Facebook, TripAdvisor, Yelp, Google, and a bunch of other applications that are all vying for your opinion and thoughts.
Reviews are supposed to be a way for a consumer to know whether or not a business is doing a good job. The problem is that there is a dark side to reviews: reactionary reviews and fake reviews.
Here are a couple of different examples of fake and reactionary reviews:
Recently, I changed the format of my Facebook page. I stumbled upon two reviews from way back in 2013 that rated my business with a two-star review. The problem with both of those reviews, is that they weren’t actually made by my customers.The dark side to reviews on #SocialMedia. Click To Tweet
A client of mine, who had to terminate an employee due to poor performance, woke up one morning to a bunch of one-star reviews made the previous night by a bunch of his friends. None of them were actual customers of her business either. She had to reach out to the former employee and advise him that she’d be taking legal action if they didn’t come down.
On Natal Day weekend, at our Taproom in Nova Scotia, someone gave us a one-star review. He was a legitimate customer who came to our business on the busiest day of the year and gave us a one-star review because he had to wait too long. This was a classic reactionary review. While his opinion is important and we failed to deliver what he expected, a one-star review was harsh in comparison to all the positive feedback and reviews from others.
Then there are the five-star reviews that are written by good friends and family members because they want to support you. While their intentions are great, once again, these are not always truthful reviews. In fact, it can be a lot more serious than you think. In 2015 Bell agreed to pay a $1.25-million dollar fine when it was deemed by the federal Competition Bureau that their employees had posted anonymous favorable reviews of company apps.
The final example is one that was recently in the news about a restaurant in Lexington, Virginia where The White House Press Secretary was asked to leave. Unfortunately, the restaurant name was similar enough to a restaurant in Collingwood, Ontario that Trump supporters left nasty comments and reviews on the wrong social media page. This is a reactionary and fake review that seriously damaged the rating of an unsuspecting business.
Reviews are meant to help consumers make buying decisions. They should be thoughtful, honest and accurate.
The problem with reviews today are:
1) Too many reviews are fake.
2) Too many are isolated, reaction-based incidents that are not a true reflection of a business’s performance.
3) Reviews are subjective.
Each person has a different interpretation of ratings. For example, I had a conversation with someone this weekend who never gives a five-star review because to them that means there is no room for improvement. Yet I use five-star for excellent service all the time. We all have our own bias and beliefs tied into ratings and they are not the same making the entire review process unreliable unless you’re looking at both quantitive and qualitative details.
I believe the future of reviews will need to include some type of proof that you really were a customer of the business you’re reviewing. Otherwise, your review may very well be from a bot or a troll, or a human having a bad day.
What do you think?
Leave me a comment below and share your opinion. Have you ever left a bad review from a one-off experience that maybe that business didn’t deserve? Or do you believe that every bad experience deserves to be broadcasted?
Founder and CEO of the Lisa Larter Group, master strategist, author, speaker, podcast host, social media expert, consultant, and business coach. Lisa inspires entrepreneurs and business owners to see the possibilities for their organizations when it comes to strategy. She uncomplicates modern marketing and creates (and implements) strategies for businesses that are guaranteed to increase visibility, inbound leads, and revenue.