Fake User Reviews are a No No

You should never fake it.

To counteract scathing reviews by Web users at sites like InfomercialScams.com and RealSelf.com, do-it-yourself face-lift maker Lifestyle Lift  allegedly posted fake user reviews with positive critiques by supposed patients to review sites and other destinations.  But this strategy had a flaw:  the “patients” turned out to be company employees who had been paid to enthuse about Lifestyle Lift.

New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has extracted $300,000 from Lifestyle Lift to settle allegations that the reviews amounted to deceptive commercial practices, false advertising, and fraudulent and conduct. Lifestyle Lift also promised it would no longer anonymously post positive reviews.

Fake User Reviews are a dumb idea

The thing I like best about user generated content and user reviews is that its really easy to spot the fakes.  The temptation to post fake reviews is so strong because in a recent Nielsen report, over 70% of web users trust online reviews.  So why not try to scam the system?

Angie’s List is a member-supported consumer review site that provides reviews and grades on contractors and doctors.   The members view the reviews as credible because people have to pay to use the service, there are no anonymous reviews, and the reviews are checked for authenticity by both a sophisticated algorithm and by hand.  If a contractor tries to game the system, they get put in the “Penalty Box” which means death among the members.  In this model, the user reviews are helpful and credible, so much so that people will pay to read them.

Overstock.com posts good/bad/ugly product reviews on its site, and it helps customers to make good buying decisions.

LaserShield customer reviews are all real, and sometimes surprising.  Which is part of the whole point – real user reviews are helpful to both prospective customers AND to the company selling the product because you get insight into how people really feel and how they really use the product or service.

Maybe Lifestyle Lift should have taken some of the real user complaints to heart instead of burying them.  I know of other companies that do the same thing, and they suffer from an underlying insecurity about the true value of their products/services and their business practices.

The truth will set you free.

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One Response to “Fake User Reviews are a No No”

  1. Bryan Stapp on July 16th, 2009:

    Marketing Profs was kind enough to have their own take on this post – as usual they did a nice job! http://www.marketingprofs.com/news/small-business/index.asp?nlid=1268&cd=dmo121

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