As businesses aspire to build up a (positive) social media presence, and consumers become increasingly informed by social network reviews and noise, Gartner is predicting a growth in the rate of ‘paid-for’ social media reviews.
According to Gartner’s latest research, by 2014 paid-for (or, let’s face it, ‘fake’) reviews will account for 10-15% of the total. The majority of these reviews will not disclose any relationship between the reviewer and the reviewed organisation.
And it’s not just organisations who are seeking to enhance their brand and push their products. Individuals are not above ‘faking’ reviews either. There have been high profile stories of authors providing rave reviews for their own works via ‘sock puppet’ pseudonyms on Amazon and elsewhere.
However, authors and organisations can also be subject to fake negative reviews. Gartner’s research suggests a growth in organisations that can help create social media reputation and also defend it against unfair attack.
In a social media enabled world, reputation capital is becoming increasingly important. However, consumers and others need to be able to trust that what they are reading about products or services reflects the true opinions of real people.
Gartner is predicting that in the next two years in the US two organisations will face litigation over fake reviews. But even if some organisations are not deterred by the threat of the law, they should be truly afraid of the backlash of consumers when they discover they have been duped.