Chances are you checked out online reviews before you booked your last hotel room or made dinner reservations at a new restaurant. In today’s world, online reviews are playing a major role in helping people make buying decisions. Businesses use online reviews to drive sales because they provide a level of “social proof” for their products or services. Social proof is important in sales as it’s considered to be one of the key principles of influence. But, how do you know if the reviews you’re reading online are real or fake?
Computers Versus Humans
According to a Cornell University research team that built a software program that can spot fake reviews, humans are right only about half the time. By comparison, the Cornell University software program can spot fake reviews 90 percent of the time. These research findings suggest that most of us will end up booking terrible hotel rooms or will make reservations at lousy restaurants because we’ll be taken in by fake ‘opinion spam’ without being aware that we’re being duped.
How to Spot a Fake Review
Be suspicious if a review you read online lacks detail. It’s hard for someone to describe in writing a product or service they’ve not experienced firsthand. Therefore, fake reviews usually offer general praise rather than citing specific features. Fakers tend to use descriptive words such as “destination”, “luxury” or “inspiration”. By comparison, truthful reviews are more likely to use tangible words like “cleanliness” “service” or “value for the money”.
Mastering the Spotting of Fake Reviews
To become good at spotting fake reviews, you’ll need to use a combination of noting trustworthiness in the use of language, checking verified buyer status, and time stamps. Think you can spot a fake review? Next time you’re reading a review, test it out with this free online tool. The results might surprise you. http://reviewskeptic.com/
Elaine Allan, BA, MBA
Technology & Business Blogger
Vancouver, BC, Canada