New Research Shows 79% of US Consumers Believe They’ve Read a Fake Review in the Last Year

New Research Shows 79% of US Consumers Believe They’ve Read a Fake Review in the Last Year
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Key Takeaways
  • 79% of US consumers believe they’ve read a fake review in the last year
  • 84% of US consumers said they "can’t always" spot a fake review
  • The proliferation of fake reviews has the potential to erode consumers' trust in review sites

Research published this week in BrightLocal’s annual Local Consumer Review Survey report shows that 79% of US consumers believe they’ve read a fake review in the last year, but 84% admit that they can’t always spot one.

The report states:

“Fake reviews (as in, reviews left by the business itself or its connections, paid-for reviews, or reviews left by ex-employees or competitors that don’t accurately reflect the business experience) have widely been acknowledged as a problem when it comes to maintaining a positive reputation. In particular, it’s been documented that review sites don’t treat fake reviews as a priority, and the complexity of getting them removed has left many business owners scratching their heads.”

Read the full Local Consumer Review SurveyIn 2017, ‘fake news’ entered the lexical Hall of Fame (or in this case, Shame) when it was named Word of the Year. But a parallel trend has equally been eroding confidence in customer reviews. The difference with fake reviews, however, is that behind them there’s always a very real conspiracy to deceive the audience.

Fake reviewers want to artificially boost or reduce the average star rating in order to help or harm a business’ reputation. The culprits range from disgruntled ex-employees wanting to take a parting shot at their former employers, to competitors leaving negative reviews to harm a business’ brand, to business’ asking their staff (or in some cases paying people) to leave biased, positive reviews.

Fallout from the scourge of fake reviews is well-chronicled and multi-faceted. Not only is any business whose reputation is damaged by an artificially reduced average star rating going to suffer as a result (especially as people expect higher ratings than ever before), but the unchecked proliferation of fake reviews can lead businesses to believe it’s a practice worth pursuing with no negative consequence.

Have you read a fake review in the past year? BrightLocal Consumer Review Survey 2017In the survey, which polled over 1,000 US consumers on their behaviors around and feelings toward online reviews such as those left on Google My Business, Yelp and Facebook, a quarter of respondents said that they’d actually read a lot of fake reviews in the last year. This shows that these aren’t one-off, rogue reviews that don’t accurately reflect the business experience; this is a serious problem that could be eroding trust in these review sites, and one that review sites would be wise to prioritise.

Of course, the whole point of a fake review is to deceive, and sometimes the wilier fake reviewers succeed in duping their targets. While more than three-quarters of consumers surveyed stated they’d definitely seen a fake review in the last year, when it came to finding out how confident they were in recognising them, 84% said they “can’t always” spot a fake review.

Is it easy to spot a fake review? BrightLocal Consumer Review Survey 2017Without this confidence, consumers are naturally going to be finding it difficult to completely trust the average star rating (noted elsewhere in the report as the most important factor in a review profile). Looking at these figures in the context of the rest of the report, which also shows that more consumers trust reviews as much as personal recommendations than ever before in the survey’s history, paints a picture of a consumer base that wants to trust the independent views of others, but whose confidence in reviews is somewhat stifled by a growing pattern of inauthenticity.

These valuable insights are just a few of those available in the Local Consumer Review Survey report, running for the sixth year in a row and completely free, as always. Also covered are review site trustworthiness, actions taken after reading reviews, and the methods by which consumers find and read reviews.

Read the full Local Consumer Review Survey

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3 thoughts on “New Research Shows 79% of US Consumers Believe They’ve Read a Fake Review in the Last Year”

  1. Actually your own research report points in another direction, taht is, consumers increasingly trust reviews. The report states the trend for the next step after reading a positive review is to increasingly contact the company directly instead of visiting the product or service website – doesn’t this indicate that people trust reviews more than they did in last years BrighLocal survey. There have always been fake reviews.

    The best review is one with extensive narrative about the product, person or service which enables the reader to make their own judgement about the authenticy of a review.

    1. Hi Tom, thanks for your comment.

      While I appreciate your point about the report stating that people are tending to trust reviews more, I’m not sure that consumers being more likely to contact the business directly equates to the review being trusted, more that the information they would need from a website is often already available from the business’ Google My Business listing. However, the findings are certainly open to interpretation.

      Thanks

      Jamie

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