How Much Can We Trust Those Online Reviews?

We may not necessarily know those people who posted or shared their travel experiences on social networking sites. Yet, we often make travel arrangements based on the reviews we found online. Isn’t it interesting?

This MSNBC News video shows us a series of ethical and illegal misconducts about online comments and reviews. According to this report, hotels and restaurants may (a) exaggerate the services and features that they provide by posting customized pictures, (b) make up positive online reviews about their own services and products, and (c) create negative online comments about their competitors.

After watching this video, may I ask you the same question I raised about a year ago on this blog --- who shall we trust in terms of hotel and restaurant reviews? Furthermore, how much can we trust on a particular online comment?

It is probably because of the concern about trustworthiness that some hospitality companies have hired full time social media officers to manage their online reputations. Companies like TripAdvisors and Sheraton also work with Facebook to promote more “user-generated” contents --- even though people often criticize Facebook and other social networking sites about the sites’ privacy settings, Internet users look “real” because of the rich and private information they share on social media. What do you think? What makes a person’s online presence “real” and “authentic”?

If you are running a business, what are your social media strategies? How do you build trust among first-time consumers with social media tools? How proactive can a business be in generating positive online feedback?


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