Be skeptical of online review sites and review apps.

Regardless of the review site or app, the likelihood that you are reading a real and honest online review is probably pretty small. Truly, it can be quite depressing to think about how many decisions you have made due to seeing a 5-star review.

I previously worked as a Marketing Director and was directly responsible for the online reviews of my employer. Unfortunately and fortunately, I personally witnessed the web of deception on review apps and websites. I now know that online reviews largely cannot be trusted.

There are several reasons why the online review system is broken. I have identified some of the main reasons why you should think twice about believing a review or being swayed by 4-5 stars.

Issues with online reviews:

  • Heavily incentivized (biased) reviewers. These reviewers are paid in some form to give the company or product a good review. This compensation creates a bias and makes the user's review essentially worthless to the competent buyer. I cannot trust someone that is trying to make a quick buck.
  • Conditional reviews (discounts conditional on positive review). These reviewers are often held "hostage" before a transaction is completed or until a review is completed. Yes, a discount is a form of compensation. However, I wanted to call out this biased type of reviewing specifically. People will do or say anything when they can get a quick discount (car dealers do this with video testimonials while clients are in the finance office ready to sign).
  • Negative reviews deleted. I personally deleted dozens of negative reviews while working for a previous employer, under the direction of my manager. The owner of the company wanted to only have one negative review to every ten to maintain a sense of "believability." So, we were tasked on deleting the most honest and negative reviews. The "negative" reviews that remained were usually the two and three star reviews that weren't really that bad. 
  • Fake accounts. It's common to see employees, family members, foreign accounts, and other fake reviewers on a company or product page. These companies are trying to bolster the number of reviews to convince you, the customer, to buy over the company with only a few reviews. Unfortunately, this tactic to gain the most reviews often works because people want what everyone else is getting.
  • Robot reviewers. It's been uncovered many times over the years that several online review sites, review apps, and companies employee robot software to add bogus user reviews. These robots are only getting more sophisticated and undetectable. If experts can't keep up on fake online reviews, how can a customer? Just go to Fiverr.com and search how, for $5, you can get hundreds or even thousands of reviews, likes, retweets, and comments on your various accounts and listings.

On Yelp alone, Business Insider reports that 20% are fake reviews (A Whopping 20% Of Yelp Reviews Are Fake). Other review sites have fake review estimates around 30%. That 20-30% does not include the others useless reviews from incentivized users. How can you know what recommendations and reviews to trust then? Look at online reviews with a skeptical eye and turn to your family and friends.

What minnow does to combat fake reviews.

The minnow app focuses solely on facilitating quality reviews and recommendations from the people you know and trust. In many cases, your close friends, family members, or even Instagram followers can give you the most valuable recommendation.

Users can store, organize, and share right in the minnow app. It's easy and convenient... and not fake! You'll always receive a genuine recommendation with minnow. 

Download minnow and get you friends and family on minnow as well. Your recommendation recipients don't need to have the minnow app (they can receive them via text or email), but it is always more fun with a network. Start adding your favorite service providers, products, and companies to see the value.  

The minnow app is still in development. Sign up for alerts and to receive the beta when it is released.