Online reviews: Fact vs. fiction
You can find a review on just about everything these days - from dating to home improvement – consumers are constantly sharing their opinions all over the internet.
It's more important than ever to do your research before spending your hard earned dollars. But how do you know which reviews you can trust?
Earlier this year, the Federal Trade Commission announced plans to develop guidelines in an attempt to crack down on fake consumer reviews.
Angie's List has been compiling consumer reviews since 1995 and invests significant resources in an accountability process that it hopes other online outlets will follow. At the top of that list is the prohibition of anonymous reporting.
"I'm completely against anonymous reviews because that leads to information not being reliable. Consumers are making too big of decisions based on information they read online and we need for people to be accountable for what's being said," says Angie Hicks, Founder of Angie's List.
- In March, a Dallas-based Internet marketing and online reputation management firm Dalfort Media confirmed what the New York Times, the FTC and state regulators already believe: fake positive reviews on consumer review sites are rampant. Based on ten "red-flag" factors, the Dalfort Media study found that 57% of the reviews for a sampling of businesses in the Google Places directory appeared to be fabricated.
- This practice is illegal and can cost a guilty business hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines and millions in lost sales resulting from bad publicity.
- One company last year had to pay $250,000 in fines after the FTC discovered its staff was posting positive reports about its products as a way to encourage sales.
- The FTC already has adopted guidelines companies are to follow when it comes to blogging and bloggers are supposed to disclose when they're reviewing a product they've been given by the company.
Angie's List Tips: How to get the most value from online review sites:
Research the sites to determine how they work:
Review the reviewers:
Cast a wide net:
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