Reputation Changer: Complaints, Online Reviews Can Be Duplicitous and Damaging
A new report suggests that fake online reviews will grow even more prevalent in coming years—a finding that has won the attention of Reputation Changer.
NEW YORK, Sept. 18, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Many consumers look to online review sites as invaluable resources for information about different products, services, and brands. While it is true that review sites can often be useful in helping consumers make better-informed purchasing decisions, there is mounting evidence to suggest that these review sites cannot always be taken seriously. In recent months, fake online reviews, paid for by companies, have become more and more common. According to IT research firm Gartner, this trend is unlikely to reverse any time soon. In a new report, Gartner predicts that fake reviews will only gain in prevalence in coming years. In fact, Gartner projects that, by 2014, more than 10 percent of all online reviews will be false. This finding has won the attention of industry-leading reputation management firm Reputation Changer.
Cliff Stein, the CEO at Reputation Changer, has responded to the new trend with a statement to the press. "The concerns here are really twofold," says Stein. "One of them is stated outright, but another is implied. The obvious, explicit concern here is what it means for consumers. Consumers are coming to place more and more trust in online review and complaint sites, yet this new data tells us that many of these sites are inherently untrustworthy! This is a sobering reminder to consumers that the things we read on Facebook, on Amazon, and on Yelp.com are not always grounded in truth or in fact."
According to Reputation Changer, complaints and online reviews are not just a slippery slope for consumers, but also for business owners. "This report focuses on the fact that businesses are paying for positive, falsified reviews, as a way of inflating their own brands," Stein observes. "The implied, inverse situation is also true, however. Companies can write fake reviews to make themselves look good, but they can also pay for damaging reviews to make their competitors look bad. This trend of fake reviews does not just stand to hurt consumers, then, but also business owners."
Stein says that at Reputation Changer, fake reviews are a major problem. "We see clients battling false reviews all the time," he says. "Sometimes these unscrupulous reviews are planted by unreasonable consumers, but in other instances, they come from disgruntled employees or former employees. Bad reviews can even be planted by rival companies."
Given how easy it is to pen fake online reviews, Stein urges all business owners to be wary. "The common misconception among many business owners is that, because their products are great and their services are stellar, there is no way that negative publicity or bad reviews could ever befall them," he remarks. "However, this could not be farther from the truth. The reality is that any company can find itself besieged by bad reviews and online complaints, because these reviews and complaints do not have to be grounded in reality."
Stein goes on to explain that the effects of bad reviews are always severe, whether the reviews are truthful or not. "The simple truth is that consumers do trust online reviews, even though, sometimes, they really shouldn't," says Stein. "If consumers are Googling your brand name and only finding negative reviews, you can rest assured that you are losing sales, and that your brand's reputation could be sunk very quickly."
Online reputation management firms like Stein's strive to provide resources for combating these effects. "At Reputation Changer, we strive to help our clients fight back against these bad reviews and fake complaints," he emphasizes. "Our belief is that no company should be harmed by unscrupulous and illegitimate online reviews, so we seek to deliver the kinds of resources that can enable brands to establish themselves in a more positive light and ultimately to appeal to consumers across the board."
Reputation Changer was founded in 2009 by an elite team of online marketing and sales veterans, driven by their zeal to give companies and individuals control over how they are presented online. Now joined by social media experts, SEO technicians, content writers, and account executives, Reputation Changer is widely heralded as the #1 reputation management agency in the world. Led by CEO Cliff Stein, Reputation Changer has delivered its services to Fortune 500 brands, small businesses, medical practices, legal firms, politicians, and private citizens.
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