Fake Reviews, Smear Campaigns, and How to End Them
Fake, defamatory reviews can take you by surprise. They can appear just about any time and anywhere and they can be more frustrating than dealing with a legitimate complaint. Fake reviews spread lies and it can potentially damage your business’ reputation if you do not deal with them right away.
Fake Reviews Require Swift Action
While it is advisable to have a cool head when dealing with fake reviews, do not sit on it for too long. The lack of a response can prove to be damaging because potential customers might think it is true. Your first line of defense is to monitor all your reviews across different review sites. Review Fire can help you manage all your reviews under one roof. This will make it easier for you to respond to legitimate reviews as well as take immediate action against fake ones.
Once posted, malicious reviews can be seen by anyone who has Internet access. The worst thing is not knowing that they are actually out there. Aside from monitoring your reviews, it is also advisable for you to use Google Alerts so that you are notified whenever your brand is mentioned online whether it is on a review site or not. For smaller companies, checking weekly is a good idea. For larger companies, checks should be done daily.
Once you see a fake review, take steps to get them removed. Having evidence that it is fake is a good idea considering that review sites won’t remove reviews that easily. If you have trustworthy information that proves that the review is fake, the review site in question will have no choice but to remove the fake entry. Remember, different review sites have different guidelines. Yelp, for example, doesn’t like hate speech while Facebook doesn’t like it when users are bullying others. It is imperative that you read these guidelines.
While it may be hard to get a review removed from any site, a verified business listing can always flag a review that is possibly fake. It is also a good idea to take a look at the account of the person who left the review. Normally, accounts do not leave reviews that are scattered in different locations. If this particular person has left reviews in geographic areas that are too far from each other, the account is likely suspect. Inconsistent information can be one of your tools in getting rid of a fake review so you should keep an eye out for them.
Put a Stop to a Smear Campaign
Are you suspecting a smear campaign? You can put a stop to it by responding to all reviews whether they are real or fake. Never be snarky in your responses even if it is incredibly difficult not to. Be as polite and as professional as possible for the sake of your business’ reputation online.
Address the issue or the imaginary issue and tell the reviewer that you would like to make things right. However, being polite to a potentially paid hack should not stop you from pointing out irregularities. If you have a record of all of your clients and are sure that you do not have a record of the person who posted the entry, mention this in your response.
Fake Positive Reviews
Thinking of posting fake reviews for the benefit of your business? Don’t. It is a bad idea. There has been a fake reviews crackdown in the past few years and review sites are actively ensuring that no fake reviews are posted in their systems. Reviews are meant to guide consumers on which brand to trust and which establishments offer the services they are looking for. Honest reviews from real people can increase traffic to your shop and by extension, can also help you increase sales.
Posting fake reviews would only damage your reputation online and might even encourage potential customers to not buy your products or visit your store. In fact, if your competitors suspect that you are posting fake reviews for your own benefit, they might even take their own course of action online just to rub it in. That’s a bad situation altogether and it is something that you don’t want to happen to your business or brand.