9 Things to Look Out for with Online Reviews

Posted by Amanbir Dhade

Dec 17

Editor's note: Amanbir Dhade is a MBA student in the Mike Ilitch School of Business at Wayne State University in Detroit, MI and currently in ISM 7505: Inbound Information Technology

9 Things an organization needs to look out for with online reviews 

Fake_vs_Real_shutterstock_280448642.jpgThe research firm, Gartner, predicted that between 10 and 15 percent of all social media reviews will be fake.

A study from Harvard Business School estimates that boosting a restaurant's rating on Yelp by one star can increase its revenues by as much as 9 percent. With stakes this high, it is no surprise that businesses are paying big bucks to ensure they earn top spots when it comes to online reviews. It is also giving rise to a little known but widespread business, "REVIEWS FOR HIRE!".

The issue is so serious that corporate giants are feeling the effects. Amazon filed suit in October 2015 against hundreds of people (1,114 people to be exact) for fabricating false and misleading reviews. The corporate giant argues that by providing false statements these individuals have undermined customer trust on Amazon. This latest lawsuit appears to be an extension of Amazon’s actions back in April when they filed suit against a group of website offering fake reviews,

An organization needs to consider the following nine things in regards to online reviews. 

9) Count the Stars

On sites such as yelp.com and tripadvisor.com, the reviews are given via the five star rating method. When looking at reviews its generally a good idea to disregard the one and five star reviews. If someone gives a place one star and complains it’s the worst place on earth their opinion may not necessarily reflect the median view. On the other hand, be weary of five star reviews that appear as if a public relations company could have written them.

8) Look Local

Living in El Paso, Texas, we know that Little Shack offers fresh hot of the grill sautéed shrimp tacos that truly make your mouth water. By taking into consideration the views of the locals you may become aware of what other options are available in a certain city from people are who are not likely to fall for tourist traps.

7) Beware of Children

A lot of people will write about how much their kids love a place. Unless your planning a child’s birthday party this might be one of those reviews you disregard.

6) One Review

Online_Reviews_shutterstock_278440499.jpgThis is a major red flag and is probably written by a fake identity that is somehow related to a business. Often these reviews are completely over the top in one direction or another.  If it is negative it is most likely a competitor and if it is very positive it’s most likely from someone involved in the organization.  I would be very hesitant to accept a review from someone who took the time to set up an account only to write a single review.

5) Multiple Reviews Quickly

On the opposite spectrum of a single reviewer is the person getting paid to write multiple reviews about a given topic. Amazon allows you to read all the reviews someone has written by clicking on the “See all my reviews” next a user id. If the tone or wording for each review is relatively similar this is often indicative of a professional reviewer. 

4) Examine the English

In addition to moderate praise, a real review will incorporate details of the users experience and feelings about a product. It won’t usually incorporate in technical jargon, or model numbers.  So if John from Chicago is praising the latest “ACME Microwave 8.0V” perhaps take someone else’s opinion into consideration.

3) Review the Reviewer

Amazon’s initiative to cross reference user reviews with their purchaser database in order to label certain people, as “verified purchasers” is a great initiative to affirm customer trust. These would definitely be the most trust worthy source of feedback on the site.

Also look at other reviews someone has written. If they consistently complain in their feedback perhaps this person is just unhappy and becomes a keyboard warrior to unleash their frustrations about life.

2) Freebie Fraud

More companies are embracing the importance of social media feedback to their bottom line and figuring out clever ways to climb higher in the polls. Numerous marketing initiatives offer goods and services in exchange for a review. On Amazon, a reviewer must disclose if they received an item free in exchange for writing a review but this is certainly not the case for a multitude of websites.

Many of us would most likely weigh the opinion of someone who spent money on a product as more convincing than someone who received it for free and feels obligated to write a glowing review.

1) No Replacement for Critical Thinking

Take a look at all the reviews offered for a product and service and use your judgment.  What is the maturity tone of the piece?  Do all of the reviews have a similar language pattern or identical spelling error?

As the services offered on the web advance, the online consumer must also evolve. Use judgement when reading online reviews especially in regards to your organization.   

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Topics: Inbound Information Technology, Online Reputation Management

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