Hey Buddy, Wanna Buy an Online Review?
Guest post by Kathi Kruse.
Did you know there are people all over the world who’ve had a 5-star buying experience at your store? Yep, there are literally thousands of fake “customers” getting $10/hour to write glowing reviews for dealerships. I feel compelled to tell this story because the result of this practice has far-reaching, highly-harmful consequences.
Fake reviews are a catastrophe waiting to happen. From a Social Media standpoint, once these fake reviews go public, your Social capital is incinerated along with your reputation. From a legal standpoint, fake reviews violate Federal and California laws regarding disclosure compensation for endorsements.
And then there’s Google. My contact at Google research says it’s only a matter of time before these fake reviews are filtered (removed) and dealers’ profiles get taken down. What happens then? The very reason you seek online reviews is to convey your REAL LIFE reputation. If you’re found to have fake reviews and Google takes your profile down, it’ll be like the DMV coming and shutting your doors–your REAL LIFE reputation and your business is now toast.
The following job is currently posted on Elance, a cloud-based job site. I was alerted to it in a post by Harlene Doane, the Editor of Auto Dealer Monthly. “It’s craziness” she says, “This is just not in the best interest of dealers’ long-term goals.” Pay close attention to the job requirements at the bottom: ‘Must load reviews into sites using different IP addresses.’:
“These fake review providers should be more concerned with how the Federal Trade Commission feels about the practice.” says, my friend Jim Radogna of Dealer Compliance Consultants. “I can see this becoming a very big problem, very soon, if dealers aren’t alerted to this scam.”
My frustration with these scams reminds me of the day the air conditioning went out in our ‘luxury condo’ in the San Fernando Valley when it was 115 degrees outside. My sweet car guy husband, frustrated from 3 days of no action from management to repair it, decided to go down to the management office in his boxers with an ice chest. When they found him sitting on the couch in the lobby in his underwear with a beer in his hand, they fixed it immediately. He left us a few years ago so I don’t have that option now. Today, I have this Blog.
Wake up and smell the bogus, folks. These fake reviews, or anything remotely inauthentic, will be discovered in the end. Your online reputation is not a ‘launch it and leave’ proposition. There are simple strategies you can implement in your store to monitor and manage your online reputation. Experts say, “Nobody watches your money like you do”. I’d like to add, “Nobody watches your reputation like you do.” My sense after managing dealerships my entire life, is that most dealers and their staff aren’t aware of the tactics these providers use. Dealers need to know about it so they can stop consuming this service.
AutoTrader/Polk just released a study that says car buyers spend 11 hours online shopping for their next car. They’ll be looking at review sites as part of that process. From a Social Media standpoint, a store with 500+ 5-star reviews is like presenting your store as the bad fake Gucci handbags they sell out of the trunks of cars Downtown. Your store is not a knock-off!
Garnering authentic online reviews takes focus, intention, management and monitoring–just like CSI. It can’t be done on the cheap by some 3rd party who’s only interest is profiting from damaging your reputation with phony reviews.
Kruse Control Inc.
Social Media Coaching & Training