Are the Social Media Reviews You Trust Fake? By 2014, They Just Might Be

If you thought you’d lost trust in social media reviews before, you won’t like what you’re about to read.

A study by Gartner, Inc. predicts that by 2014, 10-15 percent of all reviews will be fake posts paid for by companies. This includes reviews on Yelp, Facebook, Amazon and other platforms that allow for user-generated reviews. Jenny Sussin, senior research analyst at Gartner, pointed out in the report that the fake reviews could be some companies’ way of expanding their customer bases and earning more profit. Of course, customers are more likely to flock to products that have the most positive reviews.

The scope of social media has made it easier for companies to use a word of mouth strategy without spending a fortune on advertising. It’s also cheaper to pay your own guys a small amount to write glowing reviews and fuel word of mouth than to shell out big money for legitimate, traditional advertising.

These predictions are very depressing not only because it’s illegal in some cases but also because it hurts the credibility of social media in the future. People want to believe what they’re reading in reviews. Although the potential increase in fake/paid reviews may be disheartening, there are some signs vigilant social media users can look for to spot fakes. They include: if a review gives a ton of glowing praise without highlighting any concerns, it may not be genuine. If the review only talks about the features and not how it performs or if it gives you bang for your buck, it might be fake.

Most social media reviews come from real people. However, some companies worried about making quick profits and boosting their popularity online will likely go out of their way to create their own word of mouth at the expense of honesty and trust. This study should make social media users warier in the future.

Now that you know what’s going on, would you trust social media reviews in the future? Tell us below.

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