Three Tips for Garnering Social Reviews Ethically

Below is an actual email campaign that was sent out.

On the face of it, it seems inline with the several promotion strategies used by companies to boost their social presence, such as running a giveaway to boost page likes or followers. However, there is a small but potentially troublesome attribute of this campaign, that clearly was overlooked by the strategy team, which, could become a reputation risk.

The goal for the company is to boost their reviews, which, is an acceptable one. Yet, reviews are meant to be unbiased, and, on aggregate, reflect the average experience. Hence, while a campaign can target increasing the quantity of reviews, it should not in any way influence the quality of them.

However, the line "To enter, simply review us on Google. We will randomly pick a winner from those reviews on 4/15/15." seems to invalidate that or at best leaves the intent ambiguous. Anyone entering this raffle will automatically be skewed to write a favorable review as they would expect that this increases their chances of being picked a winner.

As such, this fails the ethics of the review system. Additionally, anyone reading this mail is also left to question whether this was a deliberate attempt to buy positive reviews or not. Hence, it inadvertently (giving the benefit of doubt) becomes a trust issue.

A company can address this issue in the following ways:

Create a backend system that duplicates an entry without content

So, the company could run a separate anonymous winner-picking system, where when a new review comes in through this campaign, a separate record is made of the entry, without its contents. The company can then pick a winner from the second database. If such campaigns are run regularly, as it should be, then this will be an effective long term solution.

Ask the customer to make the second entry themselves 

As an alternative to creating a technology solution, especially for one-off campaign, the consumer can become a self-regulating entity. In this case, any reviewer interested in the raffle makes a second submission validating their review entry. Anyone willing enough to write a review for the sake of the reward will not be averse to completing another step to ensure their entry. As an added value, this approach provide insight into the behavior or a reviewer/customer that could be used for future marketing.

Make the mechanism clear in all communications 

Irrespective of the method employed the details should be made clear in the campaign mail, to avoid doubts on the veracity of the process, even if it is in the fine print at the footer.

What do you think? How would you respond to such a mail campaign?

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