The practice of writing fake reviews to drown out negative comments is not only a shady Online Reputation Management (ORM) tactic, but it’s proving to be illegal. As a general practice, ORM should never involve misleading the public. Better strategies are outlined below.
Practices for Squelching Fake Reviews
ORM is now a $5 billion industry and amounts to as much as two-thirds of the work for some law firms. There’s a reason. Online reviews are trusted by 70 percent of those who read them. So, there’s an effort to pack online properties with illegitimate reviews and to write libelous statements about past employers, service companies, acquaintances, or significant others.
This is large enough of a problem that state attorneys general, big companies, the news media and even Google are jumping into legal efforts to help beat back fake comments written online. A number of tactics are available to stomp out fake reviews, such as writing blog posts, creating branded web properties in social media, crafting business and individual profiles for LinkedIn, Google Plus, Facebook, etc. and creating press releases, blogs and columns about your business.
One ORM expert wonders what exactly constitutes spam related to profile links to Google. He suggests to continue creating quality content, which is linked to supplementary trustworthy websites as a tactic to significant ORM conclusions. And, Google suggests “behaving in a way that is genuinely worthy of a good reputation.” […read more]
War on Fake Yelp Reviews
After setting up a fake yogurt store in Brooklyn, the New York Attorney General’s Office fined 19 companies, who paid writers to create bogus reviews to counterbalance harmful online comments. As much as 20 percent of online reviews are phony, says the director of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Advertising Practices Division. Yelp, a business review website, sued a San Diego law firm in August for writing fake reviews on their site
Fake reviews hurt sites like Yelp, since “90 percent of respondents said their buying decisions were influenced by positive online reviews, and 86 percent were influenced by negative reviews.” One tactic for contradicting fake reviews is to never trust any single opinion and, instead, gauge opinions from several reviews. […read more]
The owner of the law firm, Julian McMillan, says Yelp is trying to get even for his small claims dispute with them over ads he bought on their website. McMillan says, “They’re an Internet bully and they abused their dominant Internet position for advertising contracts.”
Yelp says that they’re going after anyone who misleads shoppers by posting simulated reviews. Yelp wants over $25,000 for failure to adhere to their contract and a deliberate meddling with contractual relations. McMillan says he’s too busy to “hop on websites and goof around.” [… read more]
Since ORM is a serious business, “goofing around” should never enter into the picture. The lesson learned from these three examples is that with due diligence and best practices, any individual or business can benefit from online reputation management.
Posted by: Joel Canter