Should You Believe Customer Reviews?

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We all know that you can’t trust everything you read online. There are plenty of people out there trying to seduce you with persuasive articles that pique your interest and plenty more willing to target social ads at you in particular to encourage particular behaviors. 

We all know you can’t trust everything you read online and yet many of us are still heavily influenced by online product reviews. In fact, a study into counterfeit electronics found that online reviews were one of the main manipulating factors that caused people to buy fake goods alongside the herd mentality exploited on social media.

This raises a few significant questions: first, why are we inclined to believe customer reviews in the first place and second, is it possible to tell whether a customer review is genuine or not?

Both questions are problematic for customers and business owners alike. From the customer’s perspective, a review should hold the key to deciding whether a product is worth their money and give an honest opinion.

From the business’ perspective, online reviews – particularly positive reviews – can boost revenue and interest in their products. While customer’s trust might be gained elsewhere through marketing campaigns, reviews are immediate and often more persuasive as they come from 3rd parties. Positive reviews are valuable

For businesses looking for ways to increase sales, the humble review is a pretty good hack. Indeed, companies can buy reviews from content writers and ask for reviews to be published on blogs too. These reviews will be hugely complimentary though some might have the foresight to add a few downsides for balance too. If they get the SEO right, reviews like this could end up at the top of the results pages, giving people no reason to doubt. 

But of course, it works the other way around too. What’s stopping a competitor from posting negative reviews about a product to put people off? It seems like a very petty way to do business but when there’s profit at stake, you can see how tempting something so easy might be. 

Given all of this, it would be easy to write customer reviews off completely. But there is still room for some genuine reviews to get through. Fakespot is a cool website that helps you to figure out how many reviews for a particular product are genuine and give you a real idea of what people think.

To use it, all you have to do is enter the URL for the product you are looking at and then read through the analysis. This is a pretty smart way to cut through the fakes and finally draw a reasonable conclusion.

So, what conclusion can we draw? We know that some customer reviews are real but we also know that they are surrounded by plants. On this basis, the best idea is to either completely ignore the reviews and do the research yourself or to read as many reviews as possible to see what a consensus might be. Honestly, given all the unknowns, your guess is as good as anyone’s here.

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Like Minds is a global thought leadership platform delivering world class events on business development, knowledge and insight aimed at entrepreneurs and business leaders to engage, stimulate and empower them to become global businesses of the future. We also offer a bespoke service for corporate clients and training programmes under the Like Minds U brand. For more information please email bespoke@wearelikeminds.com