How to Find Trustworthy Reviews when Shopping Online
Smart shoppers study online reviews before buying products. More than eight in 10 adults sometimes read online reviews before buying items, and four in 10 always do, a survey by Pew Research Center found. Reviews help consumers feel more confident about their purchases by allowing them to get past advertisers’ claims and hear genuine reports from actual customers.
But consumers are also aware that unfortunately, companies know they read reviews and sometimes try to game the system. Nearly half of consumers say it sometimes hard to tell if online consumer product reviews are truthful and unbiased. If you want to find genuine reviews, you need a smart strategy. Here are four ways to find trustworthy reviews when shopping online.
• Compare Multiple Review Sites
One way to find reliable reviews is to compare multiple review sites such as Yelp, Google, and Angie’s List, suggests Real Simple contributor Sarah Robbins. It’s easy for a company to post a few phoney reviews on one site. But it takes more work to post many fake reviews on multiple sites, and the law of averages dictates that the more review sites you read, the more genuine reviews you’re likely to find.
Comparing reviews from multiple sources gives you an opportunity to dig into the details of reactions from multiple customers. It also makes it easier for you to sift out phoney reviews from genuine ones.
Fake consumer product reviews are marked by signs such as vague praise without supporting details, poor spelling, an excessive number of reviews, suspicious purchasing patterns, and dates that don’t add up, says CNET columnist Rick Broida. In contrast, genuine reviews are more likely to include individualized details that reflect actual consumer experience, such as feedback or complaints about specific product features.
• Read Consumer Comments on Social Media
Another way to find genuine consumer reviews is to bypass review sites and go to social media. Companies’ social media profiles provide a ready forum for real customers to post their opinions in public view. For instance, the Facebook page for Amway includes comments from real independent business owners commenting on their experiences following the company’s business model, giving you a realistic evaluation.
You can also use social media to gauge the quality of a company’s customer service. For example, Adobe’s Twitter feed includes replies providing detailed responses to customer service questions, giving you an idea of what their support is like. When reading comments on social media, use hashtags to search for reviews related to the items you’re shopping for.
• Use Consumer Advocacy Review Sites
Consumer advocacy sites are an excellent place to find unbiased reviews of brands, products, and services, says Lawyers.com. Sites without an axe to grind can give you a more objective view than typical review sites. For instance, the nonprofit Better Business Bureau has been providing independent evaluations of businesses since 1912, and its website includes genuine, unfiltered consumer comments.
Consumer Reports has been publishing unbiased reviews for the nonprofit Consumers Union since 1936. The U.S. government’s Bureau of Consumer Protection provides neutral reviews and information for American consumers.
• Use Fake Review Analytics Tools
Analytics tools are also beginning to provide consumers with ways to objectively evaluate reviews. For instance, the Fakespot app can be downloaded to your smartphone or added as an extension to major browsers to provide automated evaluations of consumer product reviews without making you leave your shopping experience.
Fakespot allows you to paste the URL of any product page on Amazon Reviews, Yelp, Trip Advisor, or the Apple App Store for an instant analysis.
Comparing multiple review sites, reading social media feedback, browsing consumer advocacy sites, and using analytics tools are four ways to find unbiased, balanced reviews online. Using these strategies can help you make more informed shopping decisions for a more satisfying consumer experience.
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