November 25, 2020

Forecast: Gartner Says By 2014, 10-15 Percent of Social Media Reviews to Be Fake, Paid for By Companies

Here’s yet another reason why digital literacy and info literacy are essential skills for all.

Government intervention MIGHT only be part of the solution.

Librarians and other info professionals can and should play a massive role in informing/teaching on this and other digital literacy issues. Yes, you’ve heard this before but we think it needs to be repeated on a regular basis.

From Gartner Research:

Consumers’ increased reliance on social media ratings and reviews will see enterprise spending on paid social media ratings and reviews increase, making up 10 to 15 percent of all reviews by 2014, according to Gartner, Inc. However, analysts predict that increased media attention on fake social media ratings and reviews will result in at least two Fortune 500 brands facing litigation from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over the next two years.

“With over half of the Internet’s population on social networks, organizations are scrambling for new ways to build bigger follower bases, generate more hits on videos, garner more positive reviews than their competitors and solicit ‘likes’ on their Facebook pages,” said Jenny Sussin, senior research analyst at Gartner. “Many marketers have turned to paying for positive reviews with cash, coupons and promotions including additional hits on YouTube videos in order to pique site visitors’ interests in the hope of increasing sales, customer loyalty and customer advocacy through social media ‘word of mouth’ campaigns.”

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As the FTC begins to crack down on this practice of fake reviews/ratings, some reputation management companies are taking a different approach, not posting new, fake, favorable reviews, but identifying fake and defaming reviews and requesting the reviewers or host site remove them or face legal repercussions. Gartner analysts said they  expect a similar market of companies to emerge specializing in reputation defense versus reputation creation.

Gartner believes that although consumer trust in social media is currently low, consumer perception of tightened government regulation and increased media exposure of fake social media ratings and reviews will ultimately increase consumer trust in new and existing social media ratings and reviews.

“Organizations engaging in social media can help to promote trust by openly embracing both positive and negative reviews and leveraging negative reviews as a way to encourage customers with positive product or service experiences to share them on review sites as well,” Ms. Sussin said.“They should also respond to ratings and reviews in an official capacity to demonstrate willingness to engage in productive conversation with anyone.”

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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