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BizReport : Ecommerce : March 16, 2016

Expert: How to avoid getting catfished in reviews

Singles on the dating scene get catfished - lured into a relationship with an online persona - all the time. But did you know your business could also be in danger of getting catfished? One expert explains this phenomena and how to stop it.

by Kristina Knight

Kristina: For businesses, what is catfishing?

Michael Fauscette, Chief Resource Officer, G2 Crowd: Catfished reviews, or online reviews of a product that are less than honest, can potentially exist anywhere you find peer to peer reviews. In other words they're not just a business to consumer phenomenon, but can occur in a business to business context as well.

Kristina: What problems can this cause for brands?

Michael: The existence of catfished reviews, or even the possibility that some reviews have been unduly influenced or are based on falsehoods, creates several issues:
• It can reduce the credibility of online reviews, even if there has been no specific breach of trust on the site
• It can mislead people into making a bad purchase decision
• It can create unfair advantage or disadvantage for a company, depending on whether the review is inflated or unduly derogatory.

Kristina: How can B2B buyers avoid getting catfished?

Michael: The simplest way is to only use review sites that are open and transparent on how they source and vet reviews and that have very stringent processes for maintaining the integrity of the reviews. Of course that's not always possible, so beyond that look for any irregularities that might signal a problem with the credibility of the reviews, reviewer or review site. Credible review sites should be open and transparent on how they get reviewers, how they vet the reviewer and review, and have posted policies that are consistent with trustworthy reviews. It's also useful to understand how the site makes money to make sure there are no conflicts between business model and credibility.

Kristina: What should a business do before accepting or rejecting a review?

Michael: Before accepting a review at face value, ask these questions:
1. Does the reviewer have a complete profile that looks believable and does the reviewer's business role align with the product that is being reviewed? In other words does it appear that the reviewer is hiding his/her identity and is the product something that this person would likely have used?
2. Is the reviewer connected to the product / company in some way (employee, relative, business partner or competitor)?
3. Is the review vague and lacking the details that you would expect from a person who used the product and is it well balanced, not 100% positive or negative?
4. Is the review "too" well written?

More from Michael and G2 Crowd later this week, including how to get those fake reviews removed.

Image via Shutterstock

Tags: catfishing reviews, ecommerce, ecommerce reviews, G2 Crowd, review tips

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