Monday, 10 September 2012

Faking It

The last week or so has seen a round of articles and commentary about amazon reviews, in the light of crime author R.J.Ellory's admission that he's not only been writing glowing reviews, such as the one above, for his own books, but he's also written damning reviews for books by rival crime writers.

There's been a huge outcry - is this the tip of the iceberg? Is it possible that many of the reviews, ratings and likes on the internet are fake?

I'm surprised that anyone even has to ask. It's been possible for some time to buy Twitter followers, Facebook Likes and reviews of all sorts over the internet at quite reasonable prices (anything from 2 - 55 US Dollars for 1,000 Twitter followers.)

Facebook has announced that they'll be trying to crack down on false Likes. This is all very well, and those that are bulk-bought or generated by malware should be fairly easy to sift out.

But what about those "likes" and "reviews" that aren't so obviously fake? R.J. Ellory must have spent a few minutes of his valuable writing time composing the above review. Fake it may be, in some senses, but it couldn't have been written by a robot.

Perhaps those of us who are marketing - whether it's brands or books - should think more deeply about what these metrics really mean. Are we too quick to fall into the trap of pantrometry - it can be measured, so it must mean something? Or are we living by the McKinsey maxim of "what you can measure, you can manage?"

We can measure likes, followers, review stars and all the rest - but does it lead to the truth? Probably not.

No comments: