Let’s talk about astroturfing. The number of articles available about artificial turf is surprising, but before I lose you, this isn’t one of them. Astroturfing is when a brand presents a testimonial about their products or services under the guise of a real customer. They believe they are doing their reputation a favour, but are they really? Merchants are clamping down on this behaviour, including Amazon who sued 1000 fake reviewers in 2015. More recently, they have filed lawsuits against their own customers, the sellers, who use them. Is it stopping people though? They are still being sold on auction sites, and unfortunately, every business pays the price as some consumers are losing faith in the experiences they see shared online.
- Why Businesses Use Astroturfing
Online feedback can make or break a business. It takes, on average, 40 positive customer experiences to counteract the damage of 1 negative review, so you can see why a business would want to obtain mass positive testimonials to quickly dilute a negative. Reviews also means search engine optimisation and brand advocacy, so some businesses see this as a quick-fix for competing in search rankings and to convince prospects that their product or service is “trusted”, often before any real customers have even tried it out yet.
- The Damage Caused by Fraudulent Reviews
79% of consumers stated they had seen fake reviews over the last year, however, 84% admitted they couldn’t always spot them. This highlights that people are well-aware of the treachery, but they can’t always detect where it is happening. As a result, businesses need to go above and beyond to compete with those who are getting away with it, both in search rankings and in gaining prospects’ trust that their reviews are genuine.
- The Reality of Negative Feedback
Let’s face it: many fake reviews can be spotted a mile off. A mixture of reviews that have varying styles in their content, but yet demonstrate a pattern of consistency in a brand’s service, are bound to be regarded as more credible than a barrage of shamefully questionable claims like “The peas were the shade of green I expected”, followed by “The carrot was desirable”. As it happens, there’s no need to stoop that low to overcome a negative because 68% of consumers trust a brand more when they see both good and bad scores. If a negative review is handled effectively, it can benefit a business greatly by demonstrating to prospects a commitment to resolving issues, as well as creating an opportunity to make amends with the dissatisfied customer. This has got to be better than losing leads to deceit.
- Alternatives to Astroturfing
Increasing reviews and managing reputation is essential for every business, but it is possible to do this quickly with integrity. Having a process in place to consistently monitor incoming reviews across different websites enables a business to detect negative reviews and resolve them before any significant damage is done, and there is software like Reputation Management out there to help. There are many solutions for increasing reviews as well, and one of them is as simple as asking your customers to leave them. This is a lot more powerful than you may think: 70% of them will leave one when asked, so paying someone to write fake reviews is not only counter-productive and dishonest, but it’s completely unnecessary.
Contact us today to request a free demo and see how you can increase reviews, maximise your SEO and take control of your reputation with a clear conscience, because you can’t spell “shame” without “sham”.