Online reviews are a powerful tool that helps people make decisions ranging from which hairbrush to purchase to which apartment to rent. Consumers trust others whom they see as similar to themselves to point out relevant pros and cons and to make useful recommendations. Thus, a fake review can have a serious impact on a business.
However, company owners and managers should know that not all negative reviews are legitimate. Competitors may hire people to submit fake negative reviews (often along with fake positive reviews for their own company). Part of successful reputation management is knowing how to combat these tactics effectively.
Identifying and Reporting
An important first step is to report the review in question to the platform it appears on to get it removed. However, a negative review is not necessarily a fake one; a real negative review needs a very different method of handling. The following red flags can indicate a review is likely to be false:
- General language: A fake reviewer is more likely to write something like, “This is a terrible building.” A genuine negative review is more likely to contain specific criticism, such as “I noticed garbage in the lobby.”
- Extreme, dramatic tone: False reviews tend to use exaggerated rhetoric and vicious language.
- Suspicious review history: A large number of extremely positive reviews for competing businesses can be a red flag. Alternatively, you may see a large number of bad reviews (likely similar to the one you received) for many similar companies. Chances are high these reviews will be dated on the same day or close to one another.
- Your records do not support the review: If the review alleges its author viewed an apartment or rented one, your records can show whether this actually happened during the relevant time period.
Sites such as Google typically let you flag a review if it is false or otherwise violates site guidelines. For instance, Google disallows hate speech in its reviews. If you want the process to go faster, you may also want to dispute a review. This process usually involves several additional steps but lets you specify exactly why you believe the review to be false or otherwise inappropriate. Doing this can also get your report reviewed faster.
It can take time for a website to investigate your report and remove the objectionable reviews. In the meantime, you need to make a response. Leaving the review to just sit there allows others to continue viewing it and potentially taking it seriously.
No matter how ridiculously false and vicious the review, it is important never to descend to that level in your own response. Avoid the temptation to fire back with personal remarks or mockery. Keeping your own tone professional and reasonable is a good way to show readers the review is likely baseless.
Getting more positive real reviews is another way to minimize the impact of the fake. Make it easy for your real customers to leave a quick review. Some companies have increased their review rates by offering a small promotion for leaving feedback (of course, this promotion should be content-neutral).
It is also helpful to keep an eye out for any patterns of false reviews that may continue to come up. Some sites make monitoring easier by providing alerts or reports you can analyze to identify problems.
Getting Help From Experts
Reviews are essential for supporting your company. Opiniion can help you maximize the benefits of online reviewing and counteract its negative sides such as fake reviews. Not only can you make it easy for real customers to submit feedback, but you can also monitor and analyze review activity, obtaining substantial, actionable data. Learn more about how the professionals at Opiniion can help you manage your online reputation by filling out our online contact form or calling us at 855-330-9980.