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Gartner predicts rise in fake social media

17 Sep 2012 10:59 BST Back
Gartner predicts rise in fake social media
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By 2014, 10-15% of social media reviews will be fake or paid for, predicts Gartner.

At least two Fortune 500 brands will face litigation from the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over the next two years as a result of fake social media, says Gartner. 

Fake social media ratings and reviews are attracting more media attention as growing numbers of consumers rely on social media when researching products. 

“Many marketers have turned to paying for positive reviews with cash, coupons and promotions including additional hits on YouTube videos in order to pique site visitors’ interests in the hope of increasing sales, customer loyalty and customer advocacy through social media ‘word of mouth’ campaigns,” said Jenny Sussin, senior research analyst at Gartner. 

Organisations that pay for phoney reviews can, and have, faced public condemnation and monetary fines. In 2009, the FTC determined that paying for positive reviews without disclosing that the reviewer had been compensated equates to deceptive advertising and would be prosecuted as such.

As the FTC begins to crackdown on this practice of fake reviews/ratings, some reputation management companies are taking a different approach, not posting new, fake, favourable reviews, but identifying fake and defaming reviews and requesting the reviewers or host site remove them or face legal repercussions. 

Consumer trust in social media is currently low, but Gartner believes that consumer perception of tightened government regulation and increased media exposure of fake social media ratings and reviews will ultimately increase consumer trust in new and existing social media ratings and reviews.

“Organisations engaging in social media can help to promote trust by openly embracing both positive and negative reviews and leveraging negative reviews as a way to encourage customers with positive product or service experiences to share them on review sites as well,” Ms. Sussin said.

“They should also respond to ratings and reviews in an official capacity to demonstrate willingness to engage in productive conversation with anyone.”

The report is available on Gartner’s website

Posted by 

Smrayda Christoforou

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