“You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” –– Abraham Lincoln
Customer reviews are still one of the most effective ways for businesses to build trust with potential customers. Consider the fact that 90% of consumers are influenced by online reviews and that 72% of them will only purchase from a business that has a positive review presence online (that means three stars or more).
While getting real, credible reviews is clearly an insanely effective way to jump your brand’s social visibility and proof, fake reviews — like fake social likes — are commonly thought of as nothing more than a temporary band-aid for a mediocre brand presence. In fact they’re worse, and can have tangibly negative impacts on your brand’s perception.
The Top 3 Reasons Fake Reviews Damage Your Brand
In this post, we’ll cover the top three reasons why fake review damage you brand and what you can do to avoid them.
1. Fake Reviews Have Negative Social Proof
For one, fake reviews offer zero social proof — unless you include bot endorsements in your definition (hint, we don’t). Obvious fake reviews actually have the opposite effect by conveying negative social proof. They’re a strong signal to your audience that you don’t have any organic credibility. If customers were really flocking to your business, why would you need to hire a network of bots to build up your page?
2. Fake Reviewers Have No Social Reach
Fake reviewers aren’t tapped into any real social networks, depriving you of exposure in secondary networks (your friends’ friends). In other words, the impact of your fake reviews is limited to those actually looking at the review page. On top of this, fake reviewers can appear transparently fake. Consider the profiles that are based out of an entirely different country than your business, or those which don’t have a consistent or credible review history.
Worse still, many companies that offer fake review writing services put little to no effort into creating fake profiles. A string of reviews from Google accounts without profile pictures is not going to engender the kind of trust your brand is looking for. In fact, it will have the opposite effect by seeming shady or deceitful.
3. Fake Reviews Hurt Your SEO Credibility
Websites that provide a platform for review-writing, such as Google My Business, TripAdvisor, and Booking.com, may be some of your brand’s most valuable online assets. In fact, brand assets on these pages, as well as social media accounts, typically enjoy an SEO page ranking that far out-reach what their homepage provides.
Review websites frequently run algorithms that are designed to catch companies that purchase fake reviews. And if brands are suspected of having attempted to buy their way to the top, they could potentially be kicked off the platform for violating the platform’s Terms of Service.
How To Avoid Fake Reviews
Brands have a simple and easy way of protecting themselves against this kind of scenario: don’t buy fake reviews in the first place. Forging strong relationships with actual customers and brand advocates is a long-term strategy that can really pay off. The results of authentic and organic reviews heavily outmatch those that fake review campaigns can offer. The benefit of having happy customers rave about your product or service is exponentially more lucrative than fake reviews. Leverage tools like Innercircle that help SMBs drive real reviews from real brand advocates by incentivizing customers to become loyal brand advocates.