What brands and consumers can do to combat fake reviews

What brands and consumers can do to combat fake reviews

In the light of the Amazon fake review scandal, Belinda Collins, senior planner at ais London, looks at what action brands and shoppers can take themselves to battle the growing problem.

When Amazon filed law suits against more than 1,000 fake online reviewers earlier this month, it brought to light the fact that no one is free from the risk of fake reviews. Reviews have become the backbone of online shopping; helping even relatively unknown sites build credibility with prospects.

However, stories such as Amazon’s have undermined the trust reviews naturally provide. With 54% of all UK adults reading online reviews, and up to £23bn a year in UK consumer spending potentially influenced by online reviews, getting on top of fake reviews is not something to be ignored.

While those making a living from selling fake reviews will always be tough to combat, there are a few things both people and brands can do to help identify and discredit fake reviews.

  • Make reviews as real as possible

  1. Put a face to the name

We’re naturally more comfortable receiving recommendations from people we know, which is why personal online reviews are persuasive; we trust the person making the recommendation. The more your brand can make sure the reviews are real, believable and trustworthy, the better. Linking social accounts is a good way to do this as it adds further credibility. While it’s not impossible to fake this information, it does make the process of leaving a fake review more difficult.

  1. Give them a history

Make sure that reviewers display the number and frequency of reviews made, the types of products/services they have reviewed (including purchase verification) and the average rating given. Reviews made about random products/services, reviews with a very high or very low average rating and repetitive or very specific language can indicate a fake reviewer.

  1. Display their credentials

Authenticating accounts such as email, social, mobile or home address verification is a good way to identify genuine reviewers and helps prevent multiple accounts being created. While these sorts of measures are typically undertaken by banks and financial societies, there’s no reason some or all of these couldn’t be implemented where customers rely heavily on reviews, or where the reviews will influence a large or important transaction.

  • Make it easy for others to rate reviews...

The community can ‘give back’ by helping to up-weight genuine, helpful reviews and down-weight fake ones. While Amazon is using artificial intelligence to combat fake reviews by placing emphasis on verified and helpful reviews, there are simpler measures brands can implement.  

A ‘this was helpful/unhelpful’ button is one of the easiest ways people can give feedback on the reviews they read. When a review contains useful information and is presented in a fair manner (regardless of whether it’s positive or negative), a simple vote can help promote reviews that reflect the most objective opinions.

  • And add to them

Giving people the ability to comment on reviews helps identify where reviews are inconsistent with the opinions of the majority. By leaving a ‘review of a review’, people can help downplay the effect of particular reviews without having to post one of their own, adding further weight to the helpful/unhelpful rating. In this scenario, it’s also important to ensure consumer profiles are created to help prevent fake reviewers from simply marking their own reviews as ‘helpful’ and leaving extremely positive comments.

Robust measures such as those outlined above, to protect brands and consumers from fake reviews helps to create an environment of open, honest communication that takes the power away from fake reviewers, ultimately leading to a more genuine experience.  To maintain credibility as a brand or indeed as a site that specialises in consumer reviews, it’s important to consider adding these measures to your review process, and further strengthen people’s trust in your business.

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