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If It Smells Like S*** and Feels Like S*** and Tastes Like S*** Then...

I was reading the recent blog post by Kim Essenmacher and her frustration with Google+ Local reviews, when Matt Merrill (http://www.linkedin.com/in/mattsmerrill) chimed in with advice on how to get Google Reviews to stick.

 

Ryan Leslie picked up on Matt's statement that shot up a red flag to Ryan and to me as well:

 

"Here's a few tips we give our clients when submitting reviews for and in behalf of customers:"

 

So I did some research on the Rank Boost websites, and here is the page I found:

 

 

Does this sound like another Reputation Management "scam" that will get businesses in trouble?  Should you stay away from this service?

 

Take a minute to read the terms of service from sites like Google+, Yelp, or Dealerrater.  What you might find is that reviews are to be posted by the actual consumer and not a filtered proxy agent.  

Any company that takes reviews posted on their own "form" and then filters and posts to third party sites, as a consumer, from different IP addresses, is a BIG RED FLAG!!  Is this legit?  You have to decide for yourself.

 

I think it is time to start exposing any companies that violate TOS policies that can get dealers in trouble.

 

What do you have to say on this matter?   Does this service stink?

 

 

Brian Pasch, CEO

PCG Consulting

brian@pcgmailer.com

 

Views: 470

Tags: Online Reputation Management, Rank Boost, autos, rank-boost, reputation management, review boost

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Comment by Ryan Leslie on November 27, 2012 at 7:48am

Thanks for taking the time to write this Brian. It was much better coming from you than it would have been coming from me.

This isn't the only company running this model. Ralph mentioned ReviewBoost's tarnishing of a BMW store in San Antonio already, there was a young lady doing something similar on a small scale that was covered in an expose story by a local news station a few months back. I could probably list 10-15 others... but this one really gets me. Perhaps it's the use of the "Easy Button."

I clicked over to this from a LinkedIn ad. Here are the lowlights:

It gets worse:

The FAQ goes on to offer "Sample Reviews" for easy replication and a few paragraphs on "How should my reviews read for optimal positive exposure?" RIDICULOUS!

 

What do dealers need to know?

1. THERE IS NO EASY BUTTON! Your positive reputation will be hard won. There are many reasons that dealers have an uphill climb sometimes that have been discussed here already, but it is absolutely worth the necessary effort.

2. You CAN'T outsource YOUR Reputation! It's YOUR reputation! You can get help, you can get advice, you can use tools at your disposal, but at the end of the day NOBODY can do this for you! If you aren't 100% engaged in the culture that creates your reputation you are failing yourself. Tom Gorham said it better than I can and this paraphrase hopefully does him justice "When the company you hired to be your reputation screws up, you can fire them, but you're still left with the reputation you allowed them to create for you."

3. You ARE your best asset! Dealers have been winning influence in their communities for ages; they've been working with upset consumers in their showrooms and finding common ground; they've mastered the meet and greet on the lot to put consumers at ease and help them identify their needs. What about the internet era has changed any of the core competencies of a successful dealer? Nothing! Some of the tools you use have changed, but none of the concepts should be foreign. Why would you want to remove yourself from YOUR business?

Sorry this got so long, but I'll end with this quote:

“The way to a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear.”
― Socrates

Let that simple statement drive your process and the allure of an easy button quickly fades.

Comment by Cathy Nesbit on November 27, 2012 at 7:26am

This 'service' seems real Shady. Shifty. Sketchy. Shiesty. Not words I want associated with my business.

Comment by Tom Gorham on November 27, 2012 at 5:30am

Great and timely article and great comments!  Buyer beware and in this case, the buyers are dealers!

Comment by James A. Ziegler on November 27, 2012 at 2:40am

Great Blog Brian. On another note, you need to be a little more careful with what you put in your mouth. JIM

Comment by Ralph Paglia on November 27, 2012 at 1:02am

An interesting and relevant bit of information:

I received an interesting email today from Yelp. It wasn’t the typical recommendations of popular places in and around my community but rather what they titled as an “Important Public Service Announcement.” It was in fact a message warning Yelp users, specifically business owners, about the unsavory practices of certain online reputation companies, specifically companies that claim to work with Yelp to remove your negative reviews or otherwise boost your ratings. The warning includes a form where Yelp users can report on companies using these tactics.

 

Here is the contents of the email itself:

We’ve recently seen an uptick in reports about “reputation management” companies that claim to work with Yelp to remove your negative reviews or otherwise boost your ratings… for a fee (of course!). If you’re wondering how these companies can make good on this offer, the answer is simple: They can’t. There’s never been any amount of money one can pay — to Yelp or any third party — to manipulate reviews.

If you’ve been contacted by someone offering something along these lines, we’d love to get the details so we can prevent them from preying on others. Please use this form to loop us in. For general questions, contact our user support team at www.yelp.com/contact.

Finally, as we’ve said in the past, the best strategy for reputation management is to provide great customer service, and respond diplomatically to your reviewers.

 

So are their claims valid? Well, I’ve never heard of an ORM company being able to “work with Yelp” to remove negative reviews. So, any claim by a company who says they have a “special relationship” with Yelp is most likely hogwash. True there may be “Yelp Elite” users that offer ORM services but still the best way to deal with negative Yelp reviews is to provide the very best product and/or service in the first place.

 

Now, that being said, I’m very aware that you cannot please all people all the time and that there will be scenarios where no matter what you do, someone will be displeased and post a negative review. However, negative reviews are not always the worst scenario. In fact I appreciate a combination of positive and negative reviews when looking at a business on Yelp or any other review site for that matter. When a company has all positives, it just looks unnatural, unless they are simply a kick-ass company and do everything to perfection. I know, rarely happens – we’re all human.

 

So what is the best way to deal with negative listings at Yelp? First of all, make sure you have claimed your business on Yelp. This offers you the opportunity to respond to reviews – both good and bad. When you respond to those who took the time to submit a review, it shows the customer that you care. And often times in the case of negative reviews, responding offers the opportunity to “make things right” or if nothing else, at least learn how to improve from the experience. The video below shows how Yelp users appreciate responses to their reviews.

 

Secondly, encourage “positive” reviews. Now I know that Yelp discourages businesses from trying to “force” positive reviews but there are legitimate ways you can encourage customers to review your business on Yelp. Consider the following options:

  • Integrate Your Yelp Profile on Your Web Site – Possibly within your Contact or About Us pages, provide links or logos to some of the most popular review sites, including Yelp and then encourage feedback.
  • Post a Physical Notice – Something along the lines of “How are we doing” on receipts, menus, brochures or other prominent locations that then encourage customers to visit your site where they can then submit feedback.
  • Encourage Check-ins – Sure Foursquare is the prominent check-in service but there are now other sites that offer check-in functionality such as Facebook, Google and yes, Yelp. If customers check-in using Yelp, they might be more apt to leave a review as well. What I personally do most often is to check-in at Foursquare, take a photo of my food, my room or something else relevant to the business, upload it in conjunction with my check-in and then use that same photo later to post a review on Yelp.
  • Offer Discounts to Yelp Users – Yelp allows businesses to post discounts, coupons, and events for free. So, by all means, utilize this function! If Yelp users spot a discount, not only may they be encouraged to stop on in, but keep in mind that active Yelpers write reviews.

* Hat tip to Bridget Ayers for the above suggestions. See “How To Get More Yelp Reviews For Your Business” for additional tips and further details on the four I posted above.

 

In summary, online reputation monitoring and management is a valid function that many companies need on a daily basis. Just beware when a reputation management company (or any company for that matter) promises something that you know inside your gut is too good to be true. (edited)

 

Source: http://www.searchrank.com/blog/2012/03/yelp-fights-online-reputatio...

Comment by Ralph Paglia on November 27, 2012 at 12:52am
Doesn't Recommend

Joined 2 years ago
August 15, 2010

Fake reviews. Someone should turn this dealer into the Texas attorney general!! All fake, paid for reviews!! Look at the reviews since july. All fakes. Is this dealer buying fake 5 star reviews? hmmm, check out the reviewers history and you tell me. Somehow the reviewers buy a car every day all over the country. Funny, how they all get 5 stars, too. How about the one that knows every little detail of their alleged "service award"? Haha, we know the dealer is buying these reviews but apparently they are also writing them. Come on fellas, if you're gonna fake reviews at least mix in some local residents and a 4 star every now and then!!!

Comment by Ralph Paglia on November 27, 2012 at 12:31am

A BMW dealership in San Antonio, Texas, was caught with fake online reviews after an investigation by a local television station revealed they came from a paid service.

The investigation by KSAT 12 was first prompted by a former customer of the dealership, who contacted the television station after he discovered several suspicious five-star reviews of BMW of San Antonio posted online.

The customer, Greg Kinney, told KSAT 12 he was surprised by the glowing reviews because his own experience at the dealership was less than stellar. Kinney said he knows that no dealership is perfect, but he suspected the authenticity of the reviews and did some research.

Kinney clicked on the profile of the person who’d given BMW of San Antonio a great review on City Search and found several other reviews posted by the same person on the same day referring to different businesses in different cities.

"(There are) 20 reviews by him. Here's one for Backpackers Vacation Inn and Plantation Village. Nob Hill Hotel was posted on the sixth, so I guess he was there too. The Bridal Superstar by Posie Patch got five stars on the same date," Kinney told KSAT 12.

Kinney suspected the profile was actually a paid service and contacted the KSAT Defenders, the television station’s investigative arm.

KSAT reporters contacted BMW of San Antonio’s General Manager John Bruns, who confirmed that the dealership hired a company called Review Boost to contact customers and generate actual reviews. He said the dealership also questioned the authenticity of the reviews after viewing them online.

BMW of San Antonio has since canceled the service from Review Boost and is working to remove questionable reviews taken from various Websites.

The dealership also said it conducts interviews with actual customers and that those reviews are authentic. The dealership attributed any suspicious reviews to other companies.

Comment by Ralph Paglia on November 27, 2012 at 12:27am

Brian, this reminds me of the "Reputation Manipulation" company that caused a San Antonio BMW dealer to become the subject of an investigative report that aired on local TV news stations and in the local newspapers. For fraudulently publishing reviews that were either faked or taken from one venue and copied to another without the consumer being aware.

These types of business offerings should not even exist, because no business owner should be willing to destroy their company by using such a scammy operation.  It pains me to see that any business owner would ever give money to a company like this...

Call it what it is; Reputation Charlatans, Carpet Baggers, Snake Oil Salesman, Scam Artist, Fraud... But the really sad part is that this company you called out is not the one that gets hurt the most; any dealers foolish enough to use them will become the real losers!

Comment by J.D. Rucker on November 26, 2012 at 8:57pm

Run away and never look back. I have nothing to add beyond what Brian and Keith have already said but it's important enough to ping back to the top. Reviews are too important to mess around with like this.

Comment by Keith Shetterly on November 26, 2012 at 8:51pm

From Yelp's TOS, for example:  Your account is for your personal, non-commercial use only. In creating it, we ask that you provide complete and accurate information about yourself to bolster your credibility as a contributor to the Site. You may not impersonate someone else (e.g., adopt the identity of a celebrity or your next-door neighbor), create or use an account for anyone other than yourself, provide an email address other than your own, or create multiple accounts. If you use a pseudonym, take care to note that others may still be able to identify you if, for example, you include identifying information in your reviews, use the same account information on other sites, or allow other sites to share information about you with Yelp. Please read our Privacy Policy for more information."

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