Online reviews play a huge role in our decision making processes, but will they in the future?
According to studies carried out by tech research company Gartner, 15% of social media reviews will be fake by 2014.
This brings to light the practices that businesses are using to increase their visibility and ratings. By paying for positive ratings and comments on restaurant review sites as well as on social media channels, companies are tricking customers into visiting their businesses, from restaurants and hotels to GP and dentist practises. Recent studies at the University of California, Berkeley have shown that an increase of half a star can have a significant effect on the number of visitors to a restaurant, so it’s of no wonder that everyone is trying to exploit these channels.
Marketers are also launching social media campaigns that exchange cash or coupons for positive reviews. As the internet continues to play a larger part in our life, it would seem that this problem is spreading to all sectors. Having reviews on Google Places can have a major effect on search rankings for local search terms, but with the rise of fake reviews, is this a viable long-term tactic? Is it more likely that shifting towards professional, specialist review sites will yield more realistic results? Until then, only your taste buds will be able to tell you if you’ve been duped.