How Fake Reviews and Followers Hurt your Business

Social Media is great for business. It allows business owners to communicate directly with their audience. They can stimulate an increase in word-of-mouth business, crowd-source improvements to their business, and express a genuine emotional brand quality.


For business just starting out in social media, the typical immediate priorities is to build a fan-base and to publish reviews with the intention of enticing others to work with them. To do so requires time, attention, and other resources. It’s often very tempting to purchase followers or to forge good reviews to get the ball rolling. It’s a natural instinct. No one wants to attend a party of one, so it seems necessary to connect with at least a few people and to bump up your star rating to attract that initial group of followers.

Here’s why it’s a bad idea for a social following:

For social media to truly be effective, a business owner must communicate. With a fake audience, the result is a one-way conversation. Hours of resources – time and money – are wasted speaking with someone who is not there. Once new members begin to find the business and consider following, they will see these “existing members” who often fall far outside of the natural demographic the business is trying to attract. It’s clear to most that the group they are trying to become a part of doesn’t really exist, and they move on.

The main benefit of social media for SMBs is that they have a chance to become a thought leader, and to generate a digital word-of-mouth lead system. In most markets today, the B2B model has been somewhat dismissed and replaced with the P2P model – person to person. The consumer wants to work with someone that he can trust, someone accountable. Expressing this is a great move. However, there are a lot of nuances to this that require time and attention. If the audience who receives this message does not actually exist, what is the point?

In most cases, fake reviews are generated offshore. There is nothing wrong with outsourcing some things, most companies do this in one way or another. In this case, the outsourced results are problematic. The reviews are posted at odd times of night. Many reviews are time stamped. In bigger cities with a larger immigrant population, the command of the English language is more flexible. But in most cities bad grammar and poor word-choice stick out like a sore thumb. It screams of being disingenuous. The entire premise of a fake review is to tell potential customers that your business is the right choice. What the audience is actually reading is “this company isn’t good enough to get a real good review, they have to pay someone to lie”.

Taking shortcuts can be attractive. It’s quick, cheap, and has immediate measurable results. But the fact remains these shortcuts are flawed and usually do more harm than good.

If Social Media is a feasible lead source or branding solution, the only way to do it is the right way. It will take a little longer, but the audience will actually exist. They will hear what you say, and they will respond naturally.

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