Almost 80 percent of consumers trust online review sites more than personal recommendations, and more than 75 percent of consumers confessed that positive reviews make a brand look more credible. The biggest reason we search for online reviews is to learn what others think about a product or a place that we have not yet experienced. An online review from someone we don’t know has a greater influence of our buying decision as we expect it to be unbiased and informative.
However, not all online reviews are honest. A lot of online reviews can be false, and some could be written by competitors or upset customers. Some business owners even hire paid reviewers or have family and friends leave 5-star reviews, without revealing their personal association or financial incentive. How can you separate honest reviews from fake ones?
Here are some useful tips for differentiating useful reviews from negative ones:
1. Verify the reviewers: The reviewer must display behavior of a real person who can be trusted as being impartial. A real reviewer can be identified as someone who is a regular user of the site, has reviewed other products, as well, or has a network or group of friends on that site. If the reviewer is new to the site or only reviewed the product in question, then you may want to reconsider their feedback.
2. Pay attention to the tone of review: It could be a fake review if it is too short, vague, lacks details about the product or uses generalizations that could apply to many products. An objective review will focus on specific features of the product. The review could be posted by a friend or an employee if the product is described as “amazing.” The review could be posted by a competitor or an angry customer if the product is described as “pathetic” or if the reviewer is recommending an alternate product that offers “better features at lower prices.”
3. Ignore extreme reviews: You can discount the reviews that give 5-star and 1-star ratings. For a more accurate assessment of a product, see how many reviewers are giving it a 4-star or 3-star rating. If a reviewer is posting extremely positive or negative reviews, it’s better to check his/her credentials. Such reviewers usually have personal or financial incentives for posting such extreme reviews. Such reviews are usually fake.
4. Read a lot of reviews: According to a study, most consumers make a decision after reading fewer than seven reviews. Industry experts suggest reading at least a dozen reviews, but be sure to compare multiple sites before making a decision. The bad reviews shouldn’t deter you if two reviews are negative and eight reviews are good. However, if most of the reviews are negative or somewhat negative, then they echo a sentiment, which may discourage consumers from buying the product in question.