Some celebrities have passions they pursue when they aren’t being featured on the big screen. The great Tom Selleck, for instance, is also an avocado farmer. Legendary manly man Nick Offerman operates a wood shop on the side, and Steve Martin moonlights as an award-winning bluegrass banjo player.
Color me surprised when I found out Jessica Alba (my celebrity crush) has a passion for reputation management.
Operating under the alias “Anna Curtis” (obviously done so as not to steal the spotlight from her valued clients), Albz will reportedly work hard to promote your Google Plus profile. It’s quite clear that she isn’t in it for the money, as she will help you get either 50 followers or 1 review for only $5.
I assume the only reason Anna…I mean Jessica… charges anything at all is for some sort of legal requirement. An actress, SEO expert, and buns you could bounce a quarter off of? How does one woman possess all that talent?
Even so, it deeply pains me that my Sky Angel has resorted to black hat strategies in order to provide her customers with more reviews. How could you do this to us, Jess?
All kidding aside…
Fiverr has taken a little bit of (well-deserved) heat for the unethical practices of selling reviews and reputation. While I do think they are great for connecting to artists and those with other valuable skill sets, I wholeheartedly condemn the practice of selling fake reputations.
I also can’t escape the irony of using reviews to rate the sellers of fake reviews. Did you know that using fake reviews on Fiverr violates their terms of service? While Fiverr understands the danger that fake reviews could pose to their own site, they seem to be completely comfortable in promoting their use on other sites.
Fiverr isn’t the only place selling fake reviews
Whether you’re willing to write reviews for some spare change or would like to purchase reviews for yourself, you can check out the totally-not-suspicious YelpKit.com. Now, I appreciate a clean website design more than most, but this one lacks the essentials. A skeptical person might think they don’t want people to know very much about them!
You can either send them a form with your personal information to get paid to write reviews, or you can give them your contact information to buy reviews. All communications are done through email; one would appear to be at their mercy.
Don’t worry— I’m sure your information will be safe with them. It’s not like they would do anything unethical with your credit card information, right?
This is why we can’t have nice things…
As a society, we love reviews. I think we can all appreciate the value of being able to see public feedback from previous customers that have used a business or a product. Local business owners know the tremendous value in having even one positive review, but that has also led to a rise in fake reviews that have the potential to destroy the public trust we are working hard to create.
But people are fighting back. From review sites like Yelp, to businesses like Amazon that rely heavily on reviews to sell products, to legislators looking to protect consumers, everyone is looking for ways to separate the wheat from the chaff.
Business owners shouldn’t be tempted to take the easy way out. Not only do fake reviews undermine the very system you are aiming to take advantage of, but the rest of the world is working against those who sell or utilize fake reviews.
There are already penalties in place for those who get busted using such strategies:
- Google will penalize your website. Rule #1 of online reputation — Never piss off your Google overlords.
- Yelp will not only hide the fake reviews, but will also flag your business so visitors can see that you’ve been naughty. You might even get sued.
- The Federal Trade Commission might curb stomp you with an enormous fine.
Fake Reviews Aren’t Worth It
Algorithms used to catch fake reviews are quickly improving. It’s not really a matter of if you will be caught, it’s more a matter of when. Sites are becoming increasingly better at filtering fake or suspicious reviews.
When your business does get caught for buying fake reviews, your real reputation is going to take a devastating hit. Your business can even be prosecuted under consumer protection laws. How would you like that to be the first thing your customers see when they search for you online?
If you’re thinking about ways to increase reviews for your local business, begin with the things you should never do:
- Don’t offer incentives for reviews
- Don’t ask current employees for reviews
- Don’t ask customers to review you on-site or in-office
- Don’t utilize fake reviews
Fake reviews simply aren’t worth it. They will backfire, most people can spot them, you’ll probably be caught, and it’s just plain wrong.
And Jessica, if you’re reading this — please give up your sinful, blackhat ways and return to the light. Until that day comes, we’ll have to go our separate ways.