Dealing with Fake Online Reviews

Dealing with Fake Online Reviews

In 2016, a community in San Diego decided to hire private security to help mitigate a problem it was having with disorderly homeless people. And while some small business owners in the area welcomed the plan, one community activist took issue.

She voiced her concerns to the local business association, but when the association failed to reverse course, the activist chose an alternate route.

She didn’t organize a protest and didn’t start a letter writing campaign. Instead, she began to post 1-star reviews on the Yelp page of a buisness that was hosting the association’s next mixer. When the owner contacted the activist, and asked for the post to be removed, the activist declined.

The situation turned into such a mess that it drew the attention of local media.

It’s more common than you might think

Misleading reviews can be posted by nearly anyone. Sometimes, they’re posted by a competitor, while in others, they’re written by a disgruntled staff member. If you’re trying to determine whether the post is real, there are several things you should look for.

Posts that are written by brand-new account holders are a telltale sign, as are ones that are filled with industry jargon that normal customers wouldn’t use. (The latter may be the work of a competitor.)

How to proceed

Dealing with this type of situation can be frustrating. After all, a negative review that was posted due to a real problem would be one thing, but one that’s posted fraudulently is another.

Getting a fake review removed on your own isn’t impossible, but it does take some legwork. To start, you’ll need to confirm the review isn’t real, whether it violates the rules of where it was posted (Yelp’s guidelines can be found here), and report the fake review via the proper channels.

Responding to fake reviews

If you do respond to a fake review, it’s best to do so in a professional, courteous manner. The reason for this is simple. When “real” uses check out your review page, this will help them see that your business is willing to acknowledge problems and that you’re wanting to be proactive in fixing them.

The worst thing you can do, is to fight fire with fire. Although your first instinct may be to respond aggressively, this will do a lot more harm than good.

Seek out favorable reviews from clients

Lastly, one of the best ways to combat bad reviews is to surround them with good ones. If you’re trying to overcome a fake review, remind your customers that you’d be happy to receive positive feedback.