Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Sunday, March 28, 2021

I’m not sure why it comes as any surprise to anyone that online product review sites are routinely gamed by PR firms and/or their clients:

Dozens of companies, with names like BzzAgent, Brickfish and Ammo Marketing, offer to help shape the online conversation. The Zocalo Group, in Chicago, categorizes commenters as “hear-MEs,” “reputation terrorists” or “competitive destroyers.” On its site, Zocalo promises to “relentlessly monitor online conversations to ensure your brand is talked about in the right ways.” When it’s not, the firm jumps into the conversation or recruits supporters to “go to bat for you.”

I’ve touched on this before, in regard to blogs. But the late class-action lawsuit against Yelp highlights the manipulation that goes on. All the talk of transparency, crowdsourcing, and the rest of the buzzwords all just boil down to this basic tenet:

Companies are not looking for reviews. They’re looking for endorsements.

That is, they’re not interested in fair and balanced product/service opinions. Dissatisfied users needn’t bother to post anything online, because any sort of negative feedback has the potential to do damage, especially when viewed as a stand-alone piece. And as it happens, the typical behavior of an amateur reviewer on Facebook, Twitter, or blog is to say nothing at all, rather than write something less than nice. That’s not so unusual — those motivated to give feedback, in any medium/channel, tend to be so only when they have extreme reactions, either good or bad.

But that winds up filling “review” sites with almost nothing but positive reviews, with no semblance of balance. At that point, they become little more than semi-officially commissioned endorsements. Ultimately, that’s the aim of online reputation management anyway. To pretend that anything more substantive is coming out of the user-generated online channel is foolishly naive.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 03/28/2010 11:58 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Bloggin', Social Media Online, Society
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1 Feedback »
  1. "Companies are not looking for reviews. They’re looking for endorsements.":

    Trackback by acclamatio! — 03/29/2010 @ 8:37 AM

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