Implications of the article “I created a fake business and bought it an amazing online reputation”


Kashmir Hill, a  journalist for Fusion, created a fake business to test how easy it was to buy an online reputation. The results are not shocking and shouldn’t take anyone by surprise. The results do not mean anything for creating a successful business.

You can read the article here.

Yes, she was able to buy followers on Twitter and likes on Facebook, building the appearance of a large social media reputation.

Yes, she was able to fake reviews on Facebook and Yelp, giving the appearance that the product was great.

Yes, she was able build a fake online reputation of a great business in a matter of days. Those reviews then attracted real people willing to pay for her services.

She helped to prove that the system can be easily gamed for the short-term. Facebook and Twitter have improper controls in place to prevent bought reviews, followers and likes. These companies may publicly state that they are working hard to prevent them, but it is still too easy to game their system. This is a huge public blunder for these companies and their users should be losing trust in them.

Yelp was harder to game and actually caught her for faking her online reputation. Yelp will penalize a businesses for having fake reviews and places a large warning sign for their users, stating “Consumer Alert”.

She did not test how easy it was to fake reviews on TripAdvisor.

What does this mean for your business?

According to the journalist, fake reviews, likes and followers can jumpstart your business and can help you reach short-term goals. They can also destroy your reputation if and when you get caught.

We see the bigger picture.

Fake reviews, followers and likes do not and will not sustain your business.  They do not help your business grow over the long term. If you want your business to grow and survive, you need a consistent stream of real reviews, from real people. You need real followers and likes to communicate with.

If you have real followers and likes, from previous customers or from those who love what you are able to do, you have perfectly primed leads waiting to make another purchase. This can be powerful in helping you grow your business. You should be actively looking to maximize this reach.

Once your business is running you have be able to reliably provide a high level of service in order for a five star rating to survive. To do this you need to be focused on the customer experience.

In return your customers will want to provide a review about your business to tell the world about their experience. You need way to ensure that your customers are consistently providing a stream of high quality reviews, which include pictures and that are easy for others to read. The age of the reviews cannot be stale and must always be up-to-date to ensure future customers that you are able to maintain a high level of service.

Do not panic and fake your way to the top because it is unsustainable and will not help you in the long run.

Fundamentally, consumers are more responsive to quality changes than other information available to them, according to the study “Reviews, Reputation, and Revenue” (Harvard Business School Negotiations, Organizations & Markets, 2011).

Recent reviews tell a potential customer if your business has the ability to maintain it’s high quality level of service or not (The Influence of Online Reviews on Consumers’ Attributions of Service Quality and Control for Service Standards in Hotels, Journal of Travel & Tourism Marketing, 2013).  

This makes a these types of reviews more helpful and aids in derisking the purchasing decision for that customer (The Influence of Online Reviews…).

Learn more about improving quality, quantity and age of reviews.

PicThrive can help you get REAL reviews, followers and likes in a simple and automatic way.

PicThrive turns your photos into a tool for you to automatically get more views on TripAdvisor and Google+. PicThrive helps you get more followers and likes from real people that are primed and ready to make a purchase decision. It is very simple to use so that you can be 100% focused on providing the best customer experience.

This helps to improve your online reputation and move up the rankings. In doing so, you will have created a sustainable and long term strategy for success.



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