Influencer marketing is growing in the world of Public Relations these days, and it should be since many studies have shown that consumers prefer getting information about products from other consumers rather than through ads.
But there are some key issues to consider when using influencer marketing.
If a blogger that also writes primarily about foods and recipes stumbles onto a new product that she loves (or not) and then writes about it, than it is an unsolicited and unpaid review. That situation doesn’t require any disclosure since there is nothing to disclose. However, if there is free product provided or any other kind of compensation, then it is necessary for that influencer to disclose the nature of the transaction between them and the product company. If not, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) could get involved, and there could be legal action taken.
The same is true of false reviews, either those submitted by the owner’s people to make the product look better than it is, or ones submitted by a competitor to drive business away from the company. There are shady online companies that patently pst false information, and have been fined by the FTC.
Amazon Joins In
For those who have bought products on Amazon, there are often reviews there as well. Amazon is actively monitoring reviews to make certain they come from existing and valid email addresses. They’ve also established strict guidelines beginning in 2016 prohibiting users from “creating, modifying, or posting content in exchange for compensation (including free or discounted products) or on behalf of anyone else.” They limit site users to no more than five online reviews per week also to limit the possibility of fake reviews.
Negative Fake Reviews and How to Deal With Them
Here are a few tips to follow for companies who believe negative fake reviews have been filed against them:
- Contact the person making the review to see if the situation can be resolved. If not, and it still seems to be a fake review, legal action could be possible, but should be the last resort.
- Complain to the site’s host about the review and show what you have that “proves” your case. Many opinion sites have strict rules about submitting fake reviews.
- Contact law enforcement. They may be able to get more cooperation from an opinion site than you as an individual or small company can.
Working with a reputable PR firm may also be a good idea, or you could pick up a couple of books on how to best deal with crisis communications if your company is still small and unable to afford professional help. You can’t always stop what others do, but making sure you deal openly and honestly with your customers is the best place to start. If there’s a problem, then contact the people involved to see what you can do to make it better. If using influencer marketing and providing any compensation, make sure that is disclosed by you and by them.