The (un)solvable problem of fake reviews on the internet?

False opinions on the Internet, a phenomenon that seriously damages the e-reputation of companies

In the age of the Internet, a large majority of companies, regardless of their sector of activity, experience a strong influence of the web on their reputation, and consequently, on their turnover. However, there is a real controversy about the veracity of the opinions circulating on different platforms and their impact on the online reputation of companies.

  • But what do internet reviews really consist of?
  • How to detect the real from the fake?
  • And how to react to suspicious notices?

Let’s find out the answers to these questions immediately, thanks to the testimony of Clara Lemoine, an expert in e-reputation, and more particularly in reviews on the web.

Where do the reviews appear on the web?

Whether the reviews are true or false, they are mainly posted on the same platforms. The number one medium for reviews is the famous tool developed by Google, called Google My Business. The latter holds a central place regarding the creation of reviews on the web because its positioning on a search page is specific. Then come the sites or social networks linked to the business world such as LinkedIn or Indeed, sometimes even Facebook. Finally, for companies in the restaurant, hotel and tourism sectors, reviews also appear on platforms such as TripAdvisor, Booking, AirBnb, etc. Clara Lemoine emphasised that all of these reviews have a positive or negative impact on companies in terms of turnover but also in terms of recruitment.

How do you know if you are dealing with real or fake reviews?

In order to verify the accuracy of the reviews, there is no quick fix. You have to be curious and do your homework. To begin with, you should know that false reviews are often generated by people who want to damage your company’s reputation. This mainly concerns competitors, former employees or dissatisfied customers. It is therefore possible to draw up a list of potential authors of false reviews. Sometimes it goes even further, and it is people close to these people who are able to write false reviews. In all cases, it is possible to put a name or pseudonym behind each review. However, fake reviews are often linked to fake accounts and even if you know the name of the author, this does not solve the problem.

How to react to false opinions?

Any company that is confronted with a review, positive or negative, has the right to reply. Of course, it may be possible to respond to a false opinion, the question is how! Indeed, a response from the company concerned can sometimes lead to a clarification of a misunderstanding or to the proposal of a commercial gesture. However, if the company responds in an aggressive, disrespectful or simply inappropriate manner, this is not conducive to maintaining a good e-reputation. Clara Lemoine adds that the length of the comment can also work against the company. For example, Google My Business takes into account exchanges that include replies. The tool then tends to highlight this type of review. However, this does not always help to improve the company’s e-reputation.

However, there is another solution: contact Google by registered mail to request the removal of a particular review, justifying the removal by unjustified denigration by the author of the review. But this solution is unfortunately very exceptional and not very well handled by Google’s experts.

As you will have understood, there is no miracle solution to solve the problem of false opinions on the web. It is a matter of working on this problem in depth by taking care to maintain good relations with all your collaborators, customers and employees. In addition, it is possible to take better care of your e-reputation in order to counter false opinions and prevent their development.

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