Reviews 2.0 - Rebuild The Trust
The BBC reported that one of the biggest review sites, US based ‘Yelp,’ had to disclose the identity of some reviewers in a case bought by a business which believed they were unfairly criticised. The Telegraph, published in the UK, highlighted a restaurant with the highest reviews on TripAdvisor that didn’t actually exist.
Review sites must be more robust in building their content. The following 10 rules should be adopted to prove that 'Digital Diligence' has taken place and users of the site can trust what they read.
- Identify – reviewers must be known and identifiable by the review site
- Numbers – make sure there are enough reviews to remove bias
- Trust – avoid commercial bias eg users won’t trust a ‘sponsored’ review
- Experience – ensure reviewers actually owned the product or used the service
- Recent – old reviews reduce credibility
- Contact – record contact details to check identity later and provide an audit trail
- Exact – the review must match the exact product or service
- Democratic – 1 person/1 product/1 review to remove bias
- Endorse – get your reviewers to ‘agree’ or ‘disagree’ with other user reviews
- Simple – make it simple to submit a review
It is likely that all review sites, and the reviewers who submit an opinion, will have to take more care in compiling their reviews. STV reported the case of a Scottish guest house business targeting TripAdvisor to find out who wrote potentially damaging reviews.
Reviews - Big Business
Review sites are big business. US based Yelp is thought to be the largest and is listed on the stock exchange. Despite quite low revenues, it carries a hefty share price valuing the company in the $hundreds of millions if not $billions. The price is driven by investors seeing the potential of the large number of reviews and high number of visitors.
TripAdvisor employs over 1900 people worldwide and carries more than 125 million travel reviews and opinions from travellers around the world. 3.1 million Businesses and properties in 134,000+ destinations are listed on the site. Whilst the top travel review site is rated highly by its users, some businesses feel unfairly treated.
The Need For Specialist Review Sites
Reviews 2.0 isn't just about trust and control. WeLoveAnyCar.com believes that general purpose review sites, whilst useful, need to be complimented by specialist review sites where the thoughts and opinions on a specific product or service can be more defined and readily searchable.
WeLoveAnyCar.com now has the largest car review site in the UK with 121,620 reviews submitted by car owners in the last 14 months. A further 541,028 drivers (of the exact same car) voted ‘agree’ or ‘disagree’ with these reviews giving users an enhanced view of how useful that review is.
Controversy around online review sites continues. It is up to the review industry to adopt new practices if we want to see an evolution to ‘Review 2.0’ where both consumers and businesses can trust review sites more readily. The voice of the customer is important but we've followed the 10 Golden Review Rules to ensure that consumer view is genuine, they have used that product or service and their reviews are evaluated by their peers.