How To Deal With Fake Online Reviews

July 31, 2015

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Fake reviews affect businesses of all sizes. 

Some businesses are victims of their own greed, leading them to the dangerous {and unethical) habit of writing fake reviews on their online profiles. Other businesses become victims to bitter customers, ex-employees, and competitors who go after other’s online reputation without scruples.

Popular businesses in all categories are always at risk of receiving fake online reviews, most malicious in nature. Once the review is online, it can cause significant damage to a brand reputation as potential customers are exposed to false information, and question the capacity of the business venue to deliver quality goods and services.

When a business is on the receiving end of potentially libelous and fake reviews, it is easy to have a knee-jerk reaction and reply, which can potentially affect a business for longer than a negative review on it’s own.

The way a business deals with fake online reviews says a lot about the character of its leaders. As a result, potential customers may want to engage with the brand depending on how it responds to online reviews, and not solely on the negative reviews themselves, which is why it is supremely important to have a brand reputation strategy in place.

Don’t Ignore Fake Reviews

If a local competitor has their heart set on damaging your brand reputation, their efforts will be relentless. The longer you wait to take corrective action, the higher the likelihood of getting an avalanche of negative fake reviews.

If you are certain you are under attack, then there are a variety of strategies you can embrace to reduce the impact of the attack, but they all require immediate action. Get the ball rolling, and gather all the facts so you can rectify the issue as soon as possible and go back to growing your brand reputation by securing positive, truthful reviews from your most loyal customers.

Don’t Reciprocate

Now that you are certain a competitor or ex-employee is out to damage your online reputation, don’t let your anger get the best of you. In the midst of the moment, it may be tempting to go in and give your competitor a taste of their own medicine, but by doing so, you are not solving the problem, and you could potentially end up in a great deal of trouble.

If your business is strong and honest, then the consistent flow of positive reviews will soon wash away any false, negative feedback that may be blemishing your brand reputation. It is not your place to lower your ethical standards simply because a competitor has decided to play dirty. Don’t do it.

Don’t Assume a Review Is Fake Without Doing Your Research

Don’t allow your pride to blind you from the realities of business. If you receive a negative review, making the quick assumption that it is false is not a good policy.

If you become suspicious when reviewing the content of a consumer review, take the time to do research in order to make sure you are in fact dealing with a fake one.

Fake reviews can often be identified by a variety of factors that include the heavy use of industry lingo, viciousness in tone, and the weak nature of the profile submitting the review. Finally, one big clue is when a customer who leaves a negative and potentially false review on your profile has also left a highly inflated, positive review on the profile of a competitor.

Go do your homework and make sure you’re dealing with a fake review before you get your knickers in a twist.

Don’t Respond Aggressively or Inappropriately

When you are angry, you are often unable to think with clarity, and you may react in a way that’s less than professional.

One of the biggest mistakes that you can make is to explode in anger and post a response that you will later regret. Make it a point to commit to maintaining your professional image by showing restraint in the tone and nature of your response.

If you decide to respond to a fake review after flagging it, then make your response one that helps other potential customers side with you and be willing to engage in future business as a result of your level of customer commitment and professionalism. Profanity, aggressive words, threats, and name-calling have no place on public third-party review sites.

Don’t Threaten Legal Action in Your Response

Your review response is not so much for the reviewer. Each time you respond, you are doing it to benefit a wider audience.

Threatening the reviewer with legal action does no good. After all, a review response is not the proper manner to serve a subpoena. If the impact of negative reviews has been such that it has affected your profitability, and you believe there are legal grounds to go after those that submitted false reviews, then by all means do so; but do it offline.

Don’t Forget to Flag the Review

Once you are pretty certain that a review is false and malicious, go ahead and flag it. Most popular review sites use the flagging system to facilitate the escalation of content from business owners or the public in general.

Be ready to present your case informally to the moderator in charge, and hope for the best, which is most often the removal of the false review. 

Don’t Take Revenge of Any Type

If you are dealing with fake negative reviews, we know that you are angry and frustrated. Don’t allow your feelings to guide your actions.

Taking revenge in ways that make your competitor feel threatened, conducting vandalism, or physically attacking your competitors or ex-employees can land you in a ton of trouble, and those actions often result in very severe

Next up, learn 10 Savvy Ways You Can Spot Fake Reviews 

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