Fake testimonials are not a smart way to promote your app / service

fake (Spanish version available) Every business, and mine is not an exception, has its share of competitors (even free options) and that’s fine.

It’s also completely normal that once you have your new site up you immediately start searching for all posts / forum threads / Q&A sites where people mentions a problem your software you can solve and leave a comment pointing to your app as a possible solution. I’ve done that. Most of the time I try also to provide a constructive answer and not only the link but a few times I just added a short comment saying something like “if you want professional help with this you can check migratetowp.com“. The blog owner may consider this is spam and remove the comment (I don’t see it as spam since it´s relevant to the context of the conversation but I accept you can disagree).

What it’s not OK is to start creating fake testimonials to fool people into believing your service has a lot of happy clients that recommend your site. This pisses me off big time. Do you really think people are so stupid that they will not realize you’re fake?. Is your app so bad that you need to invent clients? We are competitors but let´s keep the competition clean.

To be honest, I can understand that some are so desperate to get clients that cross the line and start behaving unethical. What really amazes me is that they think they won’t get caught. I guess that many people tend to think the rest of the world is just dumb. But we are not and it’s often very easy to spot them. Typical examples are:

  • Superfan customers that recommend your product in more than 5 different sites in the same day (no customer would ever do that!)
  • Testimonials created by people clearly related to the company they are promoting
  • Testimonials creatd by user accounts whose only activity is to continuously promote the business and have no other interaction in the forum
  • Fake questions, i.e. people that start wiht a question about “which tool is the best one to do X” to immediately answer the question themselves saying that “Y” is the best solution to their problem.
  • …. (feel free to suggest yours!).

Let’s see a couple of examples of suspicious testimonials (I don’t claim they are fake, I’m just showing you some screenshots of public web pages so that you can judge by yourself).

Example 1: Anonymity fail?

Yesterday, a lady became fan of our own facebook page, liked some posts and left a comment

testimonialFB

First of all, it’s very impolite to promote another business in my own business pagem, even if you’re very happy with the service you got from this other service. But let’s take a closer look at the public profile of this person.

testimonialFB2

and now take a look at the company behind the service her “testimonial” is promoting

testimonialFB3

Do you see a strange coincidence?

Example 2: Found a time machine?

As I said above, super happy clients also look suspicious (we all know how difficult is to get testimonials!) so seeing the same testimonial in many sites should flag your fake testimonial detector, specially when this client seems to be have a time machine that allows him to talk about the great service he got “before” asking for a recommendation of a company that could provide that service. I’m sure there’s a very reasonable explanation for this (I’d be happy to hear it, suggestions?).

Check these two posts from what it looks like the same user (what are the odds of two users with the same name subscribing to two different forums in the same day to talk about the same topic?).

First at 7:36 am he says the company he is promoting was the best solution and coverted his site

testimonialForum1

Some hours later, he just discovers that company in google

testimonialForum2

Again, up to you how to interpret this. I trust your judgement!

Example 3: Creating a completely fake “reviews” site

Another variant is to create a completely fake site simulating a kind of experts forum giving “unbiased” opinions on a topic that, coincidentally always conclude that the same specific commercial offering is the best option for that problem. For instance, I’d classify CMS Expert in this category

In the meantime you can check our real, I promise, testimonials :-)

If you liked this post, you should also follow my thoughts on twitter about software development or web design, wordpress and social media .

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About Jordi Cabot

Check http://modeling-languages.com and http://wp-abtesting.com
This entry was posted in business model, customers, philosophy. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Fake testimonials are not a smart way to promote your app / service

  1. softmodeling says:

    See also the discussion related to this post that is taking place in the business of software forum: http://discuss.joelonsoftware.com/default.asp?biz.5.849997.11

  2. softmodeling says:

    And it seems there is even a word to define this f*** idiots: Astroturfing http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astroturfing

  3. Pingback: Inventar falsos clientes que hablen bien de ti es estúpido | Yo y mis opiniones

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