Study: By 2014, 10% of Reviews Will Be Fake

Did you know that by 2014, 10- 15% of all reviews online will be fake? Are you surprised? Mashable reports that businesses desperate for increases in star rankings are buying fake reviews and entrepreneurs are getting rich providing the service.  Credibility is hard to buy, though, and as algorithms change and communities respond, I think businesses will find that communities will push back.

Temptation is Great to Purchase Fake Reviews
The temptation to buy fake reviews is great because even a half star increase in stars can translate into huge increases of traffic to a business.  The University of Berkley’s study found that businesses are increasingly relying on these jumps in numbers to get customers through the door. Could it be true that consumer confidence in reviews is waning?

Evidence points to the contrary.  Over 78 million people visit Yelp per quarter.  And Open Table reports 15 million reviews in the nearly 4 years its been operating.  That’s a lot of reviews! People love to discuss their experiences with a business and when a business is great, word spreads like wildfire.  Case in point: a local burger joint opened up in Irvine and within the first month, they gained 625 reviews on yelp with an average of 4 ½ of 5 stars overall.  You’d better believe our office scurried over to see what the hype was about!

Feds are Cracking Down on this Behavior
If your business is debating on whether or not to buy fake reviews, know that the FTC is cracking down on this behavior.  And review sites like Yelp, Open Table, Zagat, Google Places all have community enhanced filters to screen out the fake reviews.  Businesses with long lists of fake reviews aren’t looking so good.

Your best bet is to pay attention to your customer service.  Request that your customers review you online.  Publicly thank your customers for their reviews and welcome them back. Happy customers love to recommend their favorite businesses with friends.  Soon you’ll have quite the collection of happy reviews online and won’t need to purchase fake reviews and potentially expose yourself to litigation.