Fake social media reviews can become a food truck owner’s worst nightmare. Websites such as Yelp, Google Places, or even Facebook, can damage a good reputation at the click of a button.
The advancement of social media has resulted in a host of creative ways to damage a mobile food business name and the internet has become the arsenal for competitors, disgruntled employees and former employees.
By the end of 2014, up to 15 percent of online social media reviews could be fake, and it’s a two-way street. Some seeking positive reviews will pay to have five-star ratings while those looking to damage the reputation of another will pay for bad reviews.
Those receiving bad reviews have attempted to turn things around with paid five-star reviews, resulting in a discombobulated and completely inaccurate overview of a business. Add to that the negative reviews left by disgruntled or former employees creating more havoc and leaving a mobile food vendor to feel helpless.
How trustworthy are social media reviews to consumers? Some reports claim that consumer trust in social media reviews is currently low.
The good news is the Federal Trade Commission is cracking down on fake reviews. Companies face litigation from the FTC for forging fake reviews.
The best way a food truck owner can take to prevent false reviews: Pay attention.
Without the aid of social media log-in, computer algorithm and the expense of a lawsuit, food truck owners can protect themselves from false reviews by close monitoring of review sites and paying attention to specific patterns in writing, such as common verbiage in multiple reviews. Be on the alert for commonality in misspelled words and pay attention to capitalization. Those who don’t know the proper spelling of a word will carry the misspelled word throughout each post. Some positing under various identities can be spotted by repeated punctuation errors. There are, of course, those who are obvious repeat offenders, failing to hide their transparency with verbiage changes. Multiple posts using words such as “gross” or “sick” should trigger a red flag.
If there are suspicious reviews, you can flag the review and take the initiative to contact the website and request the reviews be authenticated or removed. At the least, protect your mobile food business by marking the suspicious review as spam.
Remember though, that these methods are only useful for legitimate fake reviews. And they’ll only be taken seriously if the review is damaging your food truck business and appears to be fake, or written by a competing business.
Just to be clear, you can’t use any of these strategies for real reviews. If you’ve been taking a digital beating for bad service or bad food, then the obvious answer is to start impress every single person who comes to your service window so that their good reviews make the bad reviews look silly and outdated.
Please Note: Don’t waste your time or money suing review sites. Websites such as Yelp are protected by the Communications Decency Act. Under Section 230, and aren’t liable for any defamatory content made by its users, as they are considered third- party re-publishers of the content.