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How To Handle Fake Reviews: A Manly Interview

Written By: Mike Allton in Strategies for Business Growth | March 19, 2018

How To Handle Fake Reviews: A Manly Interview

Isn’t there a danger for companies? Somebody is buying all these fake reviews. Can’t you just buy fake positive reviews and then we’ll have this mutually assured destruction kind of thing going on?Jeff Sieh

Throughout history, men who took it upon themselves to invent ever-greater means for fighting war would often state that their intentions were, ultimately, peaceful.

Wilkie Collins wrote in 1870, “I begin to believe in only one civilizing influence—the discovery one of these days of a destructive agent so terrible that War shall mean annihilation and men’s fears will force them to keep the peace.”

Yet history has shown the opposite, over and over again. The gatling gun. Dynamite. Rockets. None of these inventions were successful at forestalling conflict or resolving arguments.

When World War II ended and the United States began to square off against the Soviet Union, the concept of “Mutually Assured Destruction” (MAD) was born again, only this time with global ramifications.

While it can be argued that the proliferation of nuclear weapons did create pause in the minds of military leaders, and nuclear annihilation was indeed avoided, conflict in general certainly wasn’t.

Having and using the same weapons of war as their opposing nations did not create a peaceful society. It never does.

Likewise, stooping to the same nefarious tactics as your business competition will never result in positive business growth for you.

Specifically, we’re talking about Fake Reviews, and like Jeff Sieh asked in the quote above, we’re wondering what businesses should do when faced with such unethical behavior.

We know from our in-depth series that a fake review is, “designed specifically to give a false impression to consumers on the point of purchasing.” They can be either positive or negative, and are damaging to both the business and the consumer.

In this interview with Jeff Sieh of Manly Pinterest Tips, Mike Allton talks about the real issues with fake reviews, and explains what businesses can do to actually fight them. Effectively and ethically.

Watch the interview here, and read the transcript below:

Full Interview Transcript:

Jeff Sieh: Hello folks, welcome to the Manly Pinterest Tips podcast show. I’m Jeff Sieh and you’re not. And I am here with my good friend Mike Allton. So this is going to be a different show than normal, because Mike and I were talking, and he’s been having some issues with some things, and I wanted to make sure that we talked about them. Mike, why don’t you tell us your story real quick, and why we are talking about this today?

Mike Allton: For those of you who don’t know, I’m Mike Allton, blogger over at the Social Media Hat.

I’ve been a blogger a long time, social media consultant, but I’m also the chief marketing officer for SiteSell. I’ve been there for three years. SiteSell helps solopreneurs start online businesses. And a couple of months ago we found something that was troubling, was insidious. It was frightening in many respects. We found a couple of negative reviews, which happens to every business, but as we started to read these reviews, they seemed off a little bit.

They were talking about some criticisms that were either really old, like we don’t offer responsive designs, which hasn’t been true for years, or there were criticisms that were just flat out wrong, like we charge for customer support. Who does that?

So we were thinking, “these are weird, where are these coming from?” And as we got into it we discovered that there were a bunch of these negative reviews, and as we studied them we saw this pattern where, number one, they all had a very similar format, a similar style, sometimes the same tone, the same criticisms, and every single one of them always came around at the end to say something to the effect that Solo Build It! might be nice or horrible or whatever they had to say, our number one recommendation is Wealthy Affiliate. And we were asking each other, “What is this all about?”

Turns out these are fake reviews. They’re reviews written by people who either haven’t used our product, haven’t used our services, or are just copying and pasting information, so that they can recommend somebody else. So this is different from somebody who is unhappy and has written a negative review. Like I said, that happens to every business, and there is a certain thing you do when that happens. You try to work with that person.

So there’s a process you can follow to address a negative review, but what do you do about fake reviews? We didn’t know, so that’s what we had to figure out.

Jeff Sieh: I know restaurants have had to deal with bad reviews, and this isn’t something new, and there’s even been I’ve seen reports on restaurants when some competitor comes in and they have all their employees leave negative reviews on sites, but I’ve never seen it, I’ve never heard about it before for another product other than a restaurant where people are going in like this and leaving bad reviews. We’re not just talking about somebody going in and saying my sushi tasted funny, it’s somebody going in and making a fake review, for purposes to either promote themselves or cast a bad light on their competitor. Is that what you’re saying?

Mike Allton: Yes. What we’ve seen in our research is that there are basically two forms that fake reviews come. The first form is what you just said, where you’ve got major sites like Amazon or Google or Yelp, where people are leaving negative comments that aren’t based on their personal experiences. They are either angry or they were directed to do that, and there’s no other financial gain for them, maybe they’re paid to do the review and then that’s it.

What we’ve experienced personally is affiliates of a competing product creating negative reviews to sell that competing product, and they’re doing so based on our brand name space, they’re writing reviews about SiteSell, about Solo Build It!, so that they can turn that reader around into reading another review, a positive review about the competitor.

Jeff Sieh: So are they dropping their affiliate links in? How does this actually benefit them? Is that what they’re doing, are they dropping a special link in there?

Mike Allton: Yes, that’s exactly what they do. Almost every one of these reviews that you would look at follow a very similar format. This happens to other businesses, as we discovered, but in our case they’ll take you step-by-step through some features. Some of the reviews even compliment our product in one respect or another, but at the end there is always a paragraph that says, if you want to know my number one recommendation for building an online business click here.

The link isn’t an affiliate link though. It’s almost always a link to another review that tells them all about the product that they’re recommending, and then in that review there are definitely affiliate links.

Jeff Sieh: It’s kind of a bait and switch kind of a thing, you follow the trail.

Mike Allton: That’s exactly what it is.

Jeff Sieh: So this is kind of a troubling thing, because one, just like through the restaurant sites, you can’t go in and really… first of all let’s talk about why this is such an issue for businesses, because if this is happening in one industry, people are gonna think that it works, or they’re gonna have somebody tell them that it works, and they’re gonna try on their stuff, so why is this such a big deal and an issue for businesses?

Mike Allton: Yes, that’s exactly it. As we’ve been researching this and learning more and more, we’re becoming experts in fake reviews. We’re finding that it’s spreading into many, many other industries, because unfortunately it kind of works.

If you’re selling a service online in some respect, it’s pretty easy to get ranked for the term “Jeff Sieh’s service scam,” “Jeff Sieh’s service review.” It’s pretty easy to create that content, particularly if you’re given a formula and you’re told this is what you write and this is how you write it, and here’s a graphic that will show your readers the benefits and features and so on.

So it’s spreading. It used to be very focused on restaurants, like you said, and then it kind of spread into MLM, like Amway. We found some relatively old articles that talked about that issue, in that industry. Now it’s going into things like online businesses, pretty much anyone that has an affiliate program. A competitor that has an affiliate program is susceptible to this kind of technique.

Jeff Sieh: Well even Carlos here on the comments on CrowdCast said he’s a marketer and he does indoor management for physical products on Amazon, and he said just on Amazon the review problem is a nightmare, so there is a problem for businesses.

We’ve talked about that, and we’ll try to get into some solutions to combat that in a little bit, but why is this such a big deal for consumers? Is it because people aren’t taking the time to track this stuff down, they’re just kind of scanning and they see this product stinks so they’re just gonna go to the next one. Why is it such an issue for consumers?

Mike Allton: There’s a company called Feefo that helps businesses provide a third-party reputable, verifiable review system that lives on their own sites, because most of us aren’t Amazon, so we don’t have our own review system and we don’t have the ability to program that.

You can now have a service provide that you. Feefo is an example, they did a survey a year or so ago of UK online shoppers, a couple of thousand online shoppers, and they found among those online shoppers 74 percent said they were influenced by reviews. So the majority of online shoppers, again 74 percent, said they read reviews and that helped them determine what to buy.

Out of all those shoppers who were surveyed, 81 percent said that they actively looked for negative reviews, because, while most people may not consciously think this way, if they see a product that has 100 percent positive reviews, it’s just all five stars, they really don’t quite believe it, so they look for the negative experiences, the negative reviews.

Which means if your business has one or more fake negative reviews out there, people are actively searching for those negative reviews, and they’re going to find them, and they’re going to read them, and they’re going to be influenced by them.

That’s a little bit of the idea of the impact on businesses, but from an individual’s perspective, that means we’re going to make poor decisions, we’re going to buy something that’s maybe not legitimate, that we’re not going to be happy with, that isn’t what we thought it was. We are just simply misinformed, and that’s potentially wasting money.

It can even have longer impact. It’s one thing if you go on Amazon, and an author has bought a bunch of fake reviews, so now his is the book for that particular category. You buy it, it turns out to be a lousy book, and you’re out a few bucks, and however much time you spent reading it.

What about author number two, who had the number two ranked book? He missed out on a sale, and you missed out on whatever that particular author was offering in his book. Maybe it was genius stuff that could have really helped you. That’s a small issue right there.

You move on from that, but what if it’s something bigger? What if it’s a car, what if it’s a warranty, or a house? There are so many different things that we can buy today. There are reviews available out there for all of them. Positive, negative, fake or real, who knows. Those are all potential situations where we might be influenced incorrectly.

Jeff Sieh:Yeah, I do that. On Amazon I do the split where I can see the most negative review and the most positive review, and I read those to compare if that negative is going to be enough for me to not buy something. When I look for, let’s say, a new dishwasher, the first thing I do is type in the one I’m looking at, Samsung dishwasher review, and see what comes up and start reading. So I can see how this is going to be a big deal.

So what can businesses do about it, because sometimes there’s not even a place to comment for the business to do any sort of rebuttal. On some of them you can, you can answer the questions, and just like Jay Baer talks in his book, hug your haters. This is a great time to do some great customer service and management and those things, but a lot of times you can’t do that. It’s some weird commenting system, or it’s just a star system and their comments are there and you can’t do anything, how does a business handle this?

Mike Allton: You’re absolutely right, Jay Baer continuously provides great advice on how to deal with customers, but we’re not talking about customers, we’re talking about fake reviewers, people who probably aren’t a customer and probably have never been a customer, so they have a different mindset, a different motivation.

Oftentimes their reviews do have comments, because if it’s an organized system of fake reviews, commenting on each other’s reviews is part of the process, because that helps with the ranking, so there will be comments most of the time.

Now whether or not they publish your polite comment that refutes whatever’s incorrect or misinformed about their review, that’s a whole other thing.  They probably won’t.

That’s certainly an option, but the number one most effective tactic is to make sure that you have good, genuine, positive reviews coming out of your own customer base. Joey Coleman, who we saw at Social media Marketing World, another great customer service expert, he talks about making sure that you’re prompting your customers to leave a review to provide some feedback, at the moment they achieve success. Whatever that looks like for your business, whatever that looks like for the customer, at the moment they achieve success, that’s when you want to come in and say, “What did you think? How did you do?”

Which makes complete sense. So as businesses we want to make sure that we’re doing that on a regular basis, whether it’s giving them a link to go leave a review on Amazon, on Google Local, or through Google Merchant, or someplace on our own website. Google is actually encouraging businesses to self-post reviews and have a verification process in place so that you’re Self-hosting reviews from actual customers, that’s number one. Make sure that on your own site and out on the web there are reviews, genuine reviews, both positive and negative, as long as they’re genuine reviews from your customers.

Jeff Sieh: Isn’t there a danger for companies? Somebody is buying all these fake reviews. Can’t you just buy fake positive reviews and then we’ll have this mutually assured destruction kind of thing going on? Is Google taking a stand on this? Because this can be a problem. This is almost going to be like buying fake followers, it can go back into the stuff that they were doing back in the day, the spam, buying links, all this kind of stuff, it feels like that, and Google eventually came in and slapped some people down with the algorithm. Is that coming? Have you heard anything? What are these big platforms doing about this?

Mike Allton: As an individual business, you don’t want to have anything to do with fake reviews yourself, positive or negative. You do not want to be encouraging, paying for, facilitating positive fake reviews, and you certainly don’t want to stoop to your competitors’ levels and be involved in creating fake reviews.

Don’t do that, because yes, Google, Amazon, and others don’t care if it’s a positive or negative review, they care whether it’s fake or genuine, because negative reviews are just as helpful to people as positive reviews can be, if they’re genuine. So they have definitely tried to crack down. They will continue to find new ways to eliminate those from search results and that sort of thing, which potentially could be damning to the business that’s facilitating all of that.

But there are two other issues that we touched on before. Number one, if I’m a customer and I bought your product or service based on a fake positive review and now I have learned the truth about your business, I’m unhappy. I don’t know what that is, but I’m unhappy and that’s a problem.

Worse yet, what if it comes out that you as a business have been buying fake positive reviews? I’ve read news stories about businesses that did that, so you’re risking some truly terrible bad press for what? So you got some fake positive reviews out there, why don’t you just treat your customers great and get some real positive reviews out there and now you don’t have to worry about that.

Jeff Sieh: We said not to buy fake reviews, by stooping to your competitors’ level, so do we just have to take it on the chin? Are there legal recourses you can do? This can really hurt small businesses that don’t have a big legal team. There won’t be any big press release of it, because it’s maybe two small-fry people who are doing this. It’s not going to be a big deal in the news even if it’s public. So what’s a small business to do? What actions can we take other than really working on getting good reviews to drown out those bad reviews? What else can we do as small businesses to combat this?

Mike Allton: First is to take a breath, because this is emotional. It creates all kinds of defensive anger responses as a business owner, particularly, as you said, if a small business owner, even a solopreneur, is a victim of this. It’s upsetting, and you don’t want to try to work the issue from that mindset, so take some time to chill out. You need to do that, that’s got to be part of the process.

Then follow a step-by-step process, as cool and unemotional as you can be.

Number one is to go gather, encourage positive reviews.

Number two is to leave a comment on each individual fake review, at least the ones that are ranking well if you’re facing a bunch of them. Make your comment factual, professional, polite and respectful. Do not try to get into arguments with these people, because that just feeds their whatever.

Step number three, contact the individual author outside of the comment, whether it’s a contact form or email. Use domain Whois to find that kind of information. Let the author know — again, factual, professional — this is what’s wrong about the review, here’s some supporting stuff, and he needs to either change the review or take it down. Tell them that in a very unemotional way, as much as you’re capable of doing.

Jeff Sieh: Do they even care though?

Mike Allton: That’s the thing, they might, they might not. It just depends.

Jeff Sieh: It sounds like these groups are sometimes getting together for nefarious purposes and almost copying and pasting copy that’s been given to them to slam this other company. It’s kind of like a grouping up bullying on the schoolyard kind of thing, so it may not even be worth time messing with those people, because they’re not going to post your comment, they’re not going to take time to answer it, so I guess you have to kind of play that by ear. Am I right?

Mike Allton: Yes. We found mixed results when we did this tactic ourselves. We did exactly this at SiteSell, and some people published our comments verbatim, including links that we put in there, some people stripped out the links but published the comment or edited it in some way, and other people didn’t publish it at all. Some people replied to the email, some people replied to the comment, some people just ignored everything completely. It’s interesting because while this technique we found, it’s called Astroturfing, is illegal. It’s illegal to organize people in this way.

Jeff Sieh: It’s actually illegal?

Mike Allton: It’s actually illegal. Like I said it’s called Astroturfing, which is fake turf. It’s illegal to organize, whether it’s positive or negative, people who are going to provide deliberately disinformation in this way.

What’s interesting is not everybody has the same motivation, and not everybody has the same realization. So while some people might be leaving fake reviews, knowing full well that they’re totally fake, other people, maybe they just don’t know, maybe they read everybody else’s reviews and thought that they were true, so they’re just regurgitating what they’ve been told without coming to the understanding that what they’re doing is wrong.

That’s why I said you might have mixed success as a business reaching out to these people individually. Some people, as we found, might actually be very receptive to taking the time to discover where they have gone off track, where they are now misinforming their readers. They might come to the realization that maybe that wasn’t such a good idea, maybe I shouldn’t be phrasing it that way, maybe I shouldn’t even have had this review published.

We’ve had mixed results. Some of the people we reached out to took down the review right away. Other people have edited them. Still others decided to figure out what’s true and what’s not.

But to get back to your original question, there is the fourth option, which is legal. That’s hard and it’s potentially expensive, and there are layers to it.

If it’s an individual person who has created a fake review that’s potentially defamatory of a business, a product or a service, that’s called trade libel. If it’s a group of people that have been organized to create this fake review system, that’s the Astroturfing that I mentioned before.

You have to be able to prove it. You have to be able to prove damages, and of course you have to be able to pay for the attorneys and that sort of thing. What you can do as an individual is report the fake reviewer to the FTC, or to whatever governing body. If the reviewer is from Canada, there’s a different organization. With a little bit of research you can figure out which country they’re from. There’s probably a governing body that controls what they can say, what they can’t say, what’s legal and what’s illegal.

Try to work it from that route. Like you said that’s hard, it’s time-consuming and it’s a very individualized process. It’s so much more effective to just work with your customers and have as many positive wonderful stories out there as you can get that push those negative reviews down in the rankings.

Jeff Sieh: I wanted to go back a little bit and ask, have you heard anything in your research about what Google is doing, and maybe even Facebook. I know there are reviews on Facebook. Are they doing anything to help with this? Are there going to be any tools? Is there a board you can appeal to, any of that kind of stuff? What have you found out about some of these big platforms?

Mike Allton: Big news from Google is that, for its merchant services, which allow you to process credit cards and that type of thing through Google, what they’re doing is they’re connecting their merchant account with some of the more well-known e-commerce platforms, so that they’re going to be able to verify purchases, and once that’s in place, they will automatically email your new customers a nice note, and a link to go leave a review of the verified purchase. So that’s going to help them demarcate whether or not a specific review comes from an actual customer or not. It’s very similar to what Amazon has been trying to do for a while.

Jeff Sieh: Very cool, so let’s say I’m an individual. I see a product that you guys have, and I’m doing some research. With so much of this going on, and I don’t want to spend a ton of time doing this stuff, how can I spot a fake review? I don’t want to have to dig down through links. What’s the best way to kind of do the smell test on some of these reviews that we see?

Mike Allton: Well the first thing, and this is actually why I’m doing the show, why I’m going to be writing about this more often, is simply having an awareness as a consumer that fake reviews are out there. It wasn’t on my radar. I kind of knew it happens, but I wasn’t aware that it could be happening virtually anywhere as a consumer. So that’s something we want to help people come to the understanding that anywhere you are, if you’re reading reviews, be aware that some of them might be fake. Just having that awareness is going to help you, because then it’s a lot easier for the fake ones to stand out, the ones that are disingenuous.

Once you have that awareness, the second thing is to watch out for clickbait trending keywords like “scam.” Regular people don’t use those words really when we’re writing reviews, particularly about a product that maybe we were unhappy with but that’s not to say that it didn’t do what it was supposed to do.

If I order a blender from Amazon, and it shows up and it’s not the color I ordered, so I send it back, I’m not going to call it a scam. It’s not a scam, but if you see a review that says this blender was a scam because it came red and I ordered pink, that guy is over the top. It goes both ways, I mean you read a review about the same blender from Bob that says it changed his life.

Jeff Sieh: That’s not real either.

Mike Allton: So watch out for those words. When you’re on individual sites, ask yourself why the author is writing this review, what’s the motivation, is there an affiliate link, are they being paid to do this, are they disclosing that? Those are the kind of things to watch out for on an individual basis.

Now, as you’re doing your research for a product, you’ll probably read through a number of different reviews. If you start to notice that they all read and look the same, very similar, that should be another flag. Ask yourself if it’s the case that this product had this impact and people noticed the same thing over and over and over again, or are they being directed? Are you reading a template?

As an individual, the best advice I can give you is to watch out for those fake reviews and ignore them or run away from them as fast as you possibly can. The more time you spend on them, sharing them even, linking to them, commenting on them, any kind of thing like that, actually does more harm than good, because those end up sending positive signals to Google.

Don’t share a bad review with all your friends on Facebook, and say look at this horrible review, it’s so fake, well you just sent a bunch of people to that fake review, and the fake reviewer doesn’t care, they just know that they got a lot of traffic from Facebook.

We noticed in our research, the authors of all these fake reviews are smart. They know they can’t link to the fake review, because now they’re providing link juice, unless they do some doctoring of the links, so all they can do is talk about the product they’re reviewing.

I’m not going to show you all the fake reviews of Solo Build It!, because I’d be sending traffic to those fake reviews, and I don’t want that. The best I could do is screenshots. We don’t want to do that as individuals.

But you can report them if it’s particularly egregious, or, if you’ve actually been harmed, and that’s a big point that I want to make, for viewers and listeners, if you’ve purchased something as a result of the fake review, you potentially have a legal case there as an individual. You’ve potentially been harmed, you’ve potentially wasted money. If you can demonstrate that at all the FTC is going to want to talk to you.

Jeff Sieh: Interesting. So is there anything now that SiteSell is doing moving forward to help mitigate fake reviews?

Mike Allton: Yes, a couple of things. It was really interesting to us, running through this whole process, that this particular competitor was claiming that what we do, they do it better. That’s what their affiliates said, that this was the best system out there. It was kind of cool for us, because as a business that helps create online businesses, it’s easy to compare.

We were able to look at the 17,000 active hosted sites that Wealthy Affiliate has, paying customers, compared to the 10,000 paying active hosted sites that use Solo Build It!. We looked at how they did, so this wasn’t just “Do you offer HTTPS, or do you offer multiple domain names?” Or some other kind of feature by feature comparison. We looked at actual customer performance, to see out of all of those people, who performed the best.

It was actually shocking. I mean we’re Solo Build It!, we’re SiteSell. We assumed that we would be doing better, but we didn’t realize just how much better. We used Alexa, SEMrush and Similar Web. These are three different sites that use different data points to gauge how much traffic a site gets, and then we compared them.

We found that if you’re looking at the top tier of traffic, like an Alexa rank of over a million, SBI! sites performed 33 times better. There are hundreds more Solo Build It! sites in that tier than from Wealthy Affiliate. If you’re looking at the median tier, it’s 10 times better. It’s really only at the bottom tier, where sites get no traffic, where Wealthy Affiliate wins — 87 percent of Wealthy Affiliate sites get undetectable levels of traffic.

So what this means is that the people who join Wealthy Affiliate are not doing well, and new people who join probably aren’t going to do very well. For us that obviously meant there was no basis to their claim. If there was, like I said before, that would be something we would want to look into. If you come to us and your platform is providing a better solution for solopreneurs than we can, first off, that’s not fake, that’s real, and that’s something we have to tip our hat to and say, “Okay, well, can we do better than you?” And if we can’t, we might actually talk to our customers, and our CEO Ken to his credit has actually said this to them, that if there’s another platform out there that’s dramatically better than ours, we would move our customers to that platform, because we care that much about our customers.

But that’s not what we found. It’s not even close to what we found, so we published that as this massive study. We published the results, and we published the methodology, so anybody in the world can go out there and reproduce the exact same study that we did. They’re going to get the same results, they’re going to see that one platform is outstanding for building high-traffic online businesses, real businesses, and the other platform not so much.

So we published that. And to wrap up your question, the next thing we’re doing is talking about fake reviews, and trying to educate people on this, so we actually have a three-part series coming out later this month that really digs deeper into these issues of fake reviews.

Jeff Sieh: Alright, cool. I want to be clear to anybody who’s watching or listening that I don’t have any skin in the game with this. Mike didn’t pay me to do this show, I’m not an affiliate for SiteSell or any of that stuff, but I thought this was a big issue, because I’ve heard it rumbling in the background for a long, long time, and it’s coming more and more to the forefront.

Mike, who is a friend of mine, and I talk a lot, we hang out. He mentioned this and I thought I needed to get this out there, because this doesn’t just affect one company. It’s going to affect a lot of companies, so I just want to make clear, I’m not getting any sponsorship or anything from this company. It’s just me trying to help educate you and bringing Mike on because this is a real issue.

I realized that maybe I needed to go check and see if there are fake reviews being written about me, and then oh my goodness I better do something about this because I did not know this was going on outside of the company, so anyway I just want to make that clear.

Mike, do you have any wrap-up statements you want to talk about fake reviews? We’ll make sure we drop those links to the studies that you have done in the show notes.

Jim [in the comments] says it’s a big issue along with all the negativity from trolls. Yeah, they’re much braver online than they would be face-to-face, that’s true, I call that digital courage, that’s what it is, yeah it’s horrible, and people will say stuff online that they would never say to your face. So it’s very good, and Jim also earlier reinforced what we were saying, negative can be offset by positive, positive, positive, and you need to focus on that, so that’s great advice Jim, thanks for coming by today.

Mike, you have anything to wrap us up with?

Mike Allton: That’s absolutely true. I mentioned the study because obviously there’s something else that SiteSell did, and we were able to do it, and it’s also partly why we’re so interested in continuing these conversations about fake reviews, because not every business could do that, not every business has the ability to use third-party tools to measure the success of their product or service, and compare it to another business, so we kind of lucked out in that respect.

So for everybody else, if you don’t have that as an option, there’s no way for you to have actual measurable proof, then it’s all about the stories, it’s all about the reviews. One of the really, really wonderful things that we are able to do every single week is publish another story from one of our customers. I share this because this is what you all should be doing for your own businesses — talking to your customers, interviewing them, allowing them to bring their stories out about what they’re doing with your products or services, the change, the impact, whatever the case may be. Those are great blog posts, fantastic content. This is something we’ve been doing every single week for months, and they are our most popular posts. People love them, they eat that stuff up. So do that.

Jeff Sieh: They want real-life stories. Real-life stories will win almost every time.

Mike Allton: We’re blessed, because they’re really powerful stories. One of our customers was a farmer in Zimbabwe. They had to leave the country due to a dictator, and they left with nothing. They had to start over, ended up building an online business, and now have a successful online business about Victoria Falls and how beautiful it is in Africa. It’s a really cool story, so those are the things that we’re blessed to be able to share on a regular basis.

Jeff Sieh: And be looking for those stories as a customer, you’re going to have to draw those people.

Mike Allton: You’ve got to ask.

Jeff Sieh: Yes exactly, so Mike, where can people find you online?

Mike Allton: I write at thesocialmediahat.com, and like I mentioned earlier, we’ve got that fake review series coming out, so definitely subscribe to the SiteSell newsletter so that you can get that, if you’re interested in this. If you want to know more, if you think this is a real issue for you or your business, definitely reach out to me. I’m happy to have some conversations about it.

We’re also looking for other people to partner with and collaborate with, because this is an issue that we stumbled upon, and there’s just no information out there, not enough awareness, so that’s what we’re trying to do to help our customers, you folks, anybody who might be potentially harmed or victimized by fake reviews.

Jeff Sieh: Very, very cool, and always, I’d love for you guys to go to ManlyPinterestTips.com, click on the sidebar, and subscribe to our email community so you’ll never miss not knowing about a great guest like we have with Mike today. We try to bring you stuff that you may not have thought of, and kind of breaking news in the digital industry as well, so thanks everyone for being here today, we will see you next time, because at Manly Pinterest Tips we’re always adding testosterone one pin at a time, see you next time everybody, thanks.

Wrapping Up

As was mentioned during the interview, we went on to publish a series of articles on fake reviews that stemmed from our research, and the obvious need for increased consumer & business education.

Part 1: What is a Fake Review, and Why Should You Care?

Part 2: Peeling Away The Dark Side Of Internet Marketing

Part 3: Spot ’em and Stop ’em!

Part 4: Tired of Fake Reviews? Let’s Steer a Different Path!

Part 5: Beat the Fake – How to Gather Authentic Reviews for Your Business

Make sure that you have educated yourself and prepared your business for this eventuality.

If you have questions, or have your own fake review horror stories to share, please leave a comment below.

SBI! holiday special
Mike Allton
Mike is an award-winning blogger, speaker, and author at The Social Media Hat, and Brand Evangelist at Agorapulse where he strengthens relationships with social media educators, influencers and agencies.

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