Learn how to tell the difference between a real review from a fake review. With the following sneaky product review tricks exposed, you will be able to spot fake reviews and, ultimately, save money.
This information applies to business opportunity promotions and advertisements as well. It is common to see fake reviews bashing a legitimate program to bait opportunity prospects into switching to another program as an alternative.
As a marketer and product reviewer myself, I am going to expose the fake review secrets to help you make better purchase decisions.
And as a consumer, I use reviews to help me make purchase decisions as do many other people. We look at product reviews as a means to determine or validate our purchase decision. We determine what is correct by finding out what other people think is correct. Dr. Robert Cialdini, a noted psychologist, calls this the Principle of Social Proof.
Our opinions about a product are influenced by the product reviews we read.
Marketers go to great lengths to create deceptive product or service reviews and web pages. Federal Trade Commission says fraudulent customer reviews are false advertising and, therefore, illegal.
Yet, we see:
- customer reviews
- rating systems – stars, numerical or otherwise (thumbs up/down)
Studies have shown that better overall ratings were correlated with improved performance. Plain speaking, better ratings mean better sales.
Why do we rely on product reviews?
Consumers frequently search on the internet to find information about products. It is easier than visiting local sources to see products in person or talk to sales staff.
Reading and relying on product reviews written by other consumers is a way to avoid the promotional efforts and hyperbole of marketers.
Reading reviews also help us define our own opinion of products, particularly products that we cannot physically see, touch, smell, hear, or taste.
Sneaky product review tricks
Unethical marketers or scammers use the following tricks to enhance their product reviews:
- Include irrelevant negative information. Few people believe any product is perfect. So they are unlikely to believe any product is rated 5 stars or 100 out of 100. Consequently, a product review that shows a product with negative attributes is more believable than a product with a perfect rating. By adding some irrelevant negative information, the positive product impressions are enhanced.
- Bait and switch products. Reviewers will make a product look bad with a negative rating. And then offer a competing (their) product as the solution.
- Use video to promote products on search engines and social media sites. Some search engines and social networking sites give preference to video content. Using video advertising improves the likelihood that consumers will see the product reviewer’s content.
- Write extremely long reviews and buy the bad news towards the bottom. Some reviewers will use a rating system (stars for example) at the top of the product review and then write a long review. The intent is to have the reader lose patience and stop reading the article before seeing any negative product information.
- Write a fake positive review. Fake positive reviews are designed to convince a consumer to make a purchase decision. These reviews have no resemblance to reality and may omit critical information or negative attributes of a product.
How to spot a fake review
If you are going to use reviews to make a purchase decision, understand that reviews you read may not be impartial. In fact, the reviews may be fake.
Consider these tips to determine whether a review is fake or not:
- The review is vague. There are no product details or descriptions of product performance. The product write-up could apply to any other product on the market.
- Tone and language used. A good review will critique the product in neutral tones. A fake review will tend to use emotional language that describes the product in hyperbole.
- The review is short. The reviewer is relying on a rating system for the review and the ratings are not justified.
- An alternative product is offered. If the reviewer is offering an alternative product, the review may be self-serving. If an alternative product is offered, there should be a product comparison to trigger further research.
- Bogus comparison charts are used. A reviewer may provide a product comparison chart with cherry-picked features or benefits to make the reviewer’s product look better.
Use these free tools to identify fake Amazon reviews:
- FakeSpot – a free site that analyzes Amazon product reviews.
- ReviewMeta – similar to FakeSpot. It takes Amazon product reviews and removes questionable reviews to recalculate review scores.
Additional product review information
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has additional information available to help consumers identify fake product reviews as well as scams.
It always pays to be a savvy customer. The next time you plan to buy anything based on an online review:
- Think about the source of the review. Ask yourself: Where is this review coming from? Is it from an expert organization or individual customers?
- Compare online reviews from a wide variety of websites. You can get a good idea about a company, product, or service from reading user reviews on various retail or shopping comparison sites. You also can look for websites that specialize in reviewing products, and that offer expert reviews and comparisons for what you are looking to buy.
FTC has jurisdiction over online customer reviews, the agency never will be able to investigate all potentially fake reviews, because FTC doesn’t have enough resources, particularly when so many other types of Internet scams exist,
Product review summary
Hopefully, this information is useful when determining fake product reviews.
It pays to use common sense and discount extremely positive or negative reviews. And don’t believe everything you read or see because it may not be in your best interest.
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