3 Golden Rules for Protecting Your Brand From Fake Reviews
In today’s e-commerce-driven retail space, user-generated content (UGC), such as ratings and reviews, is integral to a brand's success. In fact, almost all shoppers use ratings and reviews (95 percent) to evaluate or learn more about products. However, if consumers suspect your website to have fake reviews, they can instantly lose trust in your UGC, your website, and your brand. This can cause them to no longer utilize your UGC as a trusted tool, which can often result in them not choosing to purchase from you.
To help keep that from happening, these are the three golden rules we instruct our clients to follow to ensure they protect their businesses from fake reviews:
1. Be transparent about how you collect UGC.
The authenticity of and the trust that consumers have in your UGC is critical to the value that the UGC itself provides to both shoppers and the companies from which they buy. A surefire way to help shoppers ensure they can trust your UGC is to be open and honest about how you collected it. And no matter how UGC is collected, you should never ask for or incentivize positive reviews. You should always empower your customers to provide honest feedback.
If customers are offered a free product, discounts or coupons, or a chance to win something in exchange for providing an unbiased review, then the review should specify this was the case in how it was collected. You can add indicators like “this reviewer received a free product in exchange for their honest feedback” under or above any reviews that were collected using a promotion.
2. Don’t screen out negative reviews — find value in them.
While receiving a negative review might be a worst nightmare scenario for some, they’re actually necessary to a successful UGC program. In a consumer survey we conducted in 2020, over half (60 percent) of respondents said that negative reviews are as important as positive reviews in their decision to buy a product. The majority said that negative reviews contain more detailed info on products, while 32 percent think that they're less likely to be fake.
Negative reviews are also an opportunity for conversing with your customers and identifying potential product, process or marketing improvements, which ultimately is a win for your business. These insights will improve your customer acquisition and conversion rates. Our clients have used the feedback from their customers’ ratings and reviews countless times to help inform all parts of their businesses. Also, brands that respond to and act on negative feedback help gain their customers’ trust, confidence and loyalty.
3. Have a zero tolerance policy for fake content.
Our biggest advice is to implement a process to detect fake reviews, ensuring that they're not ever posted on your site. Allowing fake reviews affects not only your business, but your bottom line. Our survey respondents said if they suspect a product to have fake reviews, 36 percent wouldn't buy the product, 28 percent wouldn't trust the brand, 27 percent wouldn't trust the site’s other reviews, and 25 percent wouldn't purchase from the website.
The best way to ensure fake reviews don't end up on your site is to hire a third-party UGC provider and moderator. Their technology often uses textual moderation and data-driven, anti-fraud processes to evaluate reviews. These solutions are much more successful, quicker than moderating reviews manually, and are key in protecting your brand’s reputation.
While UGC is necessary for retail success, a reputation for fake reviews will make your brand anything but successful. Just as you need to continuously work to collect reviews, you need to continuously work to combat fake ones as well. When shoppers can turn to UGC as sources of truth, it helps them to be confident in purchasing from your company.
Keith Nealon is the CEO of Bazaarvoice, the leading provider of product reviews and user-generated content (UGC) solutions.
Keith Nealon is the CEO of Bazaarvoice, the leading provider of product reviews and user-generated content (UGC) solutions. He has helped accelerate growth and generate over $4.5 billion in shareholder value across multiple companies, resulting in five exits and growth in two public companies stock prices, leveraging a team-first approach and by optimizing companies' go-to-market strategies with true "21st century go-to-market techniques" across the full customer lifecycle, from initial prospect to customer advocate.
Demonstrated success as a key member of executive management teams in multiple roles including general management, sales (direct and indirect), marketing, services and engineering teams in both public (NASDAQ) and private companies (nationally and internationally), and with buy and sell-side M&A.