astroturf

Have you heard of “Astroturfing“? It’s the practice of writing false online reviews for businesses and you should avoid it if you want to keep your business and your money.

Many organizations think nothing of asking friends and family to provide a review of a service or product that they may or may not have actually used. It’s often considered harmless in the pursuit of increased business. It may increase business in the short term but it violates state laws against false advertising. It’s considered a deceptive business practice and you may incur $350,000 in penalties. It erodes people’s trust in reviews, it does create harm. If a business is found to be paying for reviews, it’s reputation will be definitely sustain damage.

What’s considered payment?

Anytime you offer something of value in exchange for a review, it’s considered payment. This is also pertinent to bloggers that review products. It’s casually called the Blogger Disclosure Rule but it’s legally referred to as Endorsements. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the enforcing body for this and you may want to review their Endorsement Guidelines. You may also want to create a disclosure policy for your website.

Bottom Line

Feel free to ask your clients and customers to review your services and business. Just make sure they’ve actually used it and, please, don’t offer anything in return for the review.

Read more from Kerry Rego Consulting on Reputation Management

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