Thursday, February 2, 2012
I have expressed my serious concerns with Empire Avenue, Yelp, Klout and other social media influencer / customer review sites.
"Klout Perks Reminds Me of Yelp Deals -- a racket?"
"Klout and Other Social Media Influence Metrics -- debunked"
"How To Game the Klout System by Jeff Turner"
I remain highly skeptical. People are turning to user experiences to gain insight into brands and products. Some web users refuse to buy anything until they do internet research on the product.
I'm that way myself.
But I don't go to just one or two customer review / personality contest sites. I mean, I don't fanatically trust and enjoy the web platforms devoted exclusively to social network influence metrics or customer reviews, like Angie's List, Empire Avenue, Quora, Yelp, and Klout.
One thing I dislike about some of the sites is how you have to sign up with a Twitter or Facebook account. This gives the site access to your password, which means a possible future hacking problem might compromise your account and not be under your control, at least for a while.
It's risky. You don't know this company, no matter how popular and successful it may be. Trust it with passwords and usernames to your most vital social connection networks?
Some sites have been accused of allegedly removing positive reviews and posting negative reviews of a business if that business refuses to buy an ad on the site.
There are also concerns about how easy it is to game these sites, manipulate the rankings and ratings of a company or product through automation and other means.
Not to mention the Klout Perks type scenarios where users are basically enticed or bribed, rendering the reviews non-objective, compensated, untrustworthy.
I pave my own path to product truth.
I'll read a variety of Google SERPs (search engine page results), skipping fishy looking URLs and link farms, scanning the corporate websites, ecommerce promotions, rant blogs, editor and user reviews at reputable tech sites, and even Wikipedia if I need a quick summary or introduction to the general area in which the problem has arisen which requires me to purchase a product as solution.
There are certain websites dedicated to user/customer/client reviews. They have such sites for reviewing restaurants, local contractors, local retail businesses, and attorneys. I recently submitted a client review to Avvo.
Heck, I just Google a product name and then read a bunch of reviews on personal blogs, Amazon, CNET, and other places, but rarely care about the official User Review Sites, since they seem to be dubious, bad algorithms, if not scam operations.
You eventually develop a heightened sense of who's a paid opinion spammer and who seems pretty sincere. Genuine user recommendations or slams are awkwardly worded, often have typos, and typically reveal a personal fact, idiosyncratic anomaly, or side tangent OT drift that adds a dose of credibility.
This special new survival skill, what I call "internet sense" is slowly acquired from long late nights, years and years of insomniac monitoring of forums, tweets, status updates, blog rants, and corporate "we we" fluff, on products, news, arguments, ideas, or topics of interest.
It gets into your blood, this sensitivity to web credibility, online truth detection, forum savvy, being able to zap right into the core of the person or bot proclaiming something on the web.
It's not infallible, at least the growth of this internet sense has not reached perfection. I've misjudged someone, often foreign, who has trouble expressing a thought in English, so I misinterpreted his intention or meaning, or someone didn't ring true, but in subsequent postings, becomes more perceptibly authentic and sincere.
Do you trust a user review site or two?
Is it easier that using my method of Google SERPs research?
Or do you combine both methods?
Which user review or influencer metrics sites do you like? Which do you despise? Why?