You know you need lots of positive reviews as social proof to entice potential customers and clients. But getting those reviews organically is an excruciatingly slow process. So why not do what many others have done to get a bunch of (seeming) reviews in a short time – that is, buying fake reviews? All the experts say the answer is a resounding, "Don't do it!" Buying fake reviews is not only bad for your business and all consumers who use reviews, but the practice can have legal consequences as well. So here are a few good reasons not to buy reviews.
Buying Fake Reviews Erodes the Review Foundation of Trust
The fact is . . . genuine reviews from real customers and clients are what matter, and buying fake reviews just poisons the review ecosystem. Customers put a lot of stock in online reviews when it comes to choosing a business or company, so don't ruin it for them. Keep in mind that 84% of consumers trust online reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations, and 74% of consumers say they trust a business more after reading positive reviews.
The online review ecosystem is built on trust. Consumers look to online reviews because they trust others – that's you and us – to give honest, helpful tips and insights on tens of thousands of different businesses. Consumers operate on the assumption that they can trust reviews to be genuine and from real people. But buying fake reviews erodes that foundation of trust and poisons the review ecosystem. Use too many fake reviews, and consumers no longer trust them, and they no longer help your business. So it's just one more formerly effective marketing tool down the drain.
Buying Fake Reviews Can Damage Your Reputation
Not only can buying fake reviews ruin the review system in general, but it can damage your business's reputation in particular. Suppose, for example, a new restaurant opens in your town and soon has tons of rave reviews. You're considering going there to eat, but a friend tells you she was offered a free meal by the restaurant to write and post a positive review. Your trust in that restaurant would completely evaporate at that point, wouldn't it?
That's just a local example. You could also suffer widespread online embarrassment and destruction of your business reputation. Online third-party review sites take a dim view of businesses that try to game the system and impose harsh, reputation-ruining penalties. For example, if Yelp catches a business soliciting reviews, they will post a highly noticeable banner on that business's page informing consumers of the shady practice. And that banner stays up for 90 days, long enough to thoroughly damage your reputation.
Buying Fake Reviews Can Have Legal Consequences
There can also be legal consequences for engaging in this practice. As review sites have become increasingly popular, the legal system has begun to monitor them and crack down on those who try to game the system. In 2013, for example, 19 companies involved in schemes to get fake reviews were caught by New York's Attorney General. The result? Those companies had to pay more than $350,000 in fines.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) also keeps on eye on these matters. And remember that the FTC controls – sometimes with an iron hand – how companies use customer endorsements in ads. Using fake or incentivized reviews could result in FTC fines as well.
Get More Real Reviews the Easy, Affordable Way
But what if there was an affordable service that offered review generation, reputation monitoring, listing management, and a review microsite. If such a thing existed, you wouldn't be tempted to buy fake reviews, would you? Well, it does exist – and it's called Reputation Desk.
Reputation Desk offers an easier, more affordable solution: review generation and reputation management software. With our software, you'll have an automated, centralized system to generate more reviews, manage your reputation, respond to reviews, and even keep your business information consistent and accurate over 45 directories. Schedule a demo today to learn how our software can help you get reviews naturally.