Buying favorable online reviews is cheap and sleazy. It’s also incredibly stupid, as Yelp is about to demonstrate to a select group of losers.
From today’s New York Times:
Like every Web site that depends on consumer critiques, Yelp has a problem with companies trying to manipulate their results. So it set up a sting operation to catch them. The first eight businesses — including a moving company, two repair shops and a concern that organizes treasure hunts — will find themselves exposed on Thursday.
For the next three months, their Yelp profile pages will feature a “consumer alert” that says: “We caught someone red-handed trying to buy reviews for this business.”
This issue isn’t relevant just to small B2C firms. According to our latest B2B buyer study and related webinar, half of all B2B buyers now use social media and peer reviews to kick off their vendor selection process. That number is growing, and as peer reviews gain influence in the buying process, some companies will be tempted to game the results.
Most B2B companies know better than to go down this road. The ones that don’t will regret it. Even if social media sites fail to out cheaters – and they have powerful incentives to do so – users probably will.