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Posts Tagged ‘reviews’

False Positives: The Problem of Fake Customer Reviews

Friday, August 26th, 2011

Psst..hey have you heard? Someone’s putting fake positive reviews for companies. There’s a black market for people who are willing to write fake positive reviews of products, places or services. Since more and more people are looking online for reviews of products, places and services, the demand for good reviews is growing.  As more and more positive reviews are being written, the demand for more positive reviews increases. It’s a positive feedback cycle.

How to tell if a review is fake or not

So what about these fake reviews? Well most of them are hard to spot. Luckily for businesses, a team of researchers have come up with an algorithm to determine if that review you got on Yelp is fake or not.  So, how did they determine the algorithm? Well the long answer’s in the link I gave you. The short answer is this. The fake reviews tend to be more narrative, have vauge descriptions about whatever they are reviewing and tend to use the words “I”‘ and “me”‘ often.

So why need an algorithm at all? Well take a look at this. Don’t read the descriptions and ignore the highlighted words for a minute. Just read the review. Could you tell it wasn’t real? No? Well neither could I. The Cornell researchers have an explanation for this. Since humans have been communicating face to face for about 60,000 years, it’s much harder for us to pick up clues about deception in things such as reviews. You know this to be true, if you’ve ever had a misunderstanding over email.

So how do you prevent fake reviews? You can try setting up a review guideline. Try asking your customers to put the name of the person who helped them, describe the product or service in detail and point out the parts that they liked the best or had some problem with. If the review has passion, chances are it’s a real review.

A brief bit about negative reviews

Then there’s the flip-side, negative reviews. These are often posted by competitors or people who really don’t like the business. Surprisingly,  the trend is more towards writing positive reviews. But, that’s not to say that negative reviews aren’t important too.  Negative reviews can help you figure out what went wrong with that new pasta recipe you were trying out last Friday night. So keep an eye on those too. Also, if you answer negative reviews really quickly and fix/compensate for the problem, your bad review might just change to a good one!

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Posts Tagged ‘reviews’

Shashi B, the Social Media Swami Talks & Small Businesses Should Listen

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

The Social Media Swami, Shashi Bellamkonda from Network Solutions, joined the Small Business Hour Talk Show to discuss  how small businesses can best use social media to help their businesses. During the interview he also discussed the trust level small businesses hold with the public, whether performance reviews are useful, and much more.  If you have never heard Shashi Bellamkonda, you really should listen.  He is one of the most genuine, thoughtful and practical speakers that is out there on small business, social media and marketing.  You may recall, Shashi was the one of the main speakers at our Social Commerce Camp DC back in February this year.  Look out because the next Social Commerce Camp is coming to the Denver/Boulder area later this year!

Click HERE to listen to the interview of Shashi. There is 20 minute intro discussion at the beginning of the recording and Shashi’s highly useful interview is after that.

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Posts Tagged ‘reviews’

Small Biz interview with Little Duck Organics owner Zak Normandin

Monday, January 25th, 2010

LDO LogoToday’s KikScore interview is with Zak Normandin, owner of Little Duck Organicsa unique and tasty organic snack food for infants and toddlers – and adults too!  We came across Zak and Little Duck Organics on Twitter where Zak and team are actively promoting their yummy organic treats.  Little Duck Organics is relatively new to the online community and shares a passion for the world of small business and bringing a much needed product to the organic conscious community.  I had the pleasure of talking for awhile with Zak and sharing startup ideas and promotional concepts.  Thanks for your insight Zak and for being a KikScore customer!

1. Tell us about Little Duck Organics and who you focus on serving?

Little Duck Organics is a business that I started developing in February of 2009. My wife and I have always been a fan of all natural/organic/locally produced products, and when we went food shopping for our daughters we really didn’t see anything like that available in the baby aisle. Most of the products that were available contained added sugars, artificial flavors, and preservatives which we preferred not to feed to our kids. When we talked to other parents, they agreed that there was definitely a lack of wholesome, nutritious products available for babies. At the time, I was looking for a new venture to invest in, so I started researching what it would take to bring an organic line of baby products to market. It took me about 10 months to design our first line of products and arrange to have it manufactured and packaged. In December of 2009, we formally launched on Amazon.com and at independent grocery stores in New Hampshire.

2. How did you get started with selling online?

One of our first customers was Amazon.com. They started buying products from us in December to sell through their online grocery division. This was the first experience that we had with selling products online. At the beginning of this month (January), we set up our own online store to begin selling Little Duck snacks directly to customers through our website. This allowed us to have a little bit more control over product placement, descriptions, Etc. Overall, the experience has been great. We’re focusing now on increasing our conversion rate and finding new ways to advertise to potential customers.

3. Where will Little Duck Organics focus most of its energy in 2010?

In 2010, our goals will be to expand our retail and online distribution channels and develop the Little Duck Organics brand. One of our main focuses will be to build customer loyalty and awareness within the baby products niche. We will be working closely with the blogging community, and plan to do a lot of traveling to sample our products at retail stores. In addition, we’re planning on introducing two new products later this year that will compliment our current line of products.

4. If you had 1 lesson that you learned from your business that you could pass on to others about selling online, what would it be?

The biggest lesson that I have learned so far since we set up our online store is that you need to be very aware and organized with all of the external costs associated with selling a product through a website. Credit card fees, boxes, packing materials & shipping costs all add up with you are selling a product with a low retail price. You need to keep these things in mind and adjust your prices accordingly so that what you are offering to customers is still attractively priced.

5. As 2010 begins, what trends do you see in your business this year?

As far as trending goes in the organic baby sector, I think that there will be more of a shift from the conventional baby food companies to upgrade their product lines to incorporate more natural/organic options. Fortunately for us, Gerber will always be Gerber and Beech-Nut will always be Beech-Nut. No matter how they market their products, they will always have the same brand-association in the mind of most consumers. Our advantage is that we were able to start from ground zero and build a brand around a mindset (Creating delicious organic baby snacks with no preservatives or additives).

6. If your business could be any movie or movie character, what movie/movie character would it be and why?

I’ve always loved the movie “Click” with Adam Sandler. I really relate to his character, and although the movie does not directly relate to Little Duck Organics, I can see a lot of similarities between the story-line and our business. For anyone who has not seen the film, the main character is an architect who has the ability to fast forward his life to critical points of success. Basically, he does not want to have to go through the mundane and only wants to experience the promotions, bonuses, success Etc. I don’t want to ruin the movie for anyone who has not seen it, but at the end Sandler learns to appreciate his family, friends, and the journey of life more than he previously had. I’m making a big effort to do the same in my life and at Little Duck Organics this year. I need to enjoy the process of building the business and everything that comes along with it. We’re doing something that most people only dream of , and that in itself should be viewed as an accomplishment.

7. If Little Duck Organics could have a dream spokesperson for your company who would it be and why?

I can’t think of anyone specific off the top of my head, but it would have to be a celebrity or someone famous who has the same mindset as our company. I would prefer a mom who understands the value in feeding wholesome organic foods to their children.

8. How do the folks at Little Duck Organics let loose after a busy day working?

Although most of my time is spent building the business, It is nice to wind down after a long day at work. At home, I enjoy spending time with my wife and daughters. We love trying out new foods and traveling. In the summer, we usually go for a walk every night with our dog. My older daughter loves helping me cook, so I try to do that with her whenever I can. At three years old, she can already make a mean Alfredo sauce :-)

9. Do you have any parting thoughts for our readers and the small business community?

Know your competition, Work your butt off, Pray for luck.  Cheers!

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Posts Tagged ‘reviews’

Choosing the Right Smartphone to Manage your Business While you Aren't in the Office

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009
smartphones_frontI recently made the decision to move out of the pre-iPhone ages (believe it or not that was only a little over 2 years ago) and get a smartphone that allowed me to better manage my work and personal life while I wasn’t in the office. After I made this decision I started researching the various smartphones on the market and determined that there were some features that I really needed and others that were nice to have but not vital to managing my business while on the go.  I thought that I would share a few of these features to consider the next time you are looking for a new smartphone:
 
E-mail/Calendar Syncing – I want a smartphone that clearly separates my personal and business e-mail while also allowing me to easily synchronize my Outlook calendar and contacts with my work computer.  I also want to be able to easily open Adobe and Microsoft Office e-mail attachments. From past experience, I know that some of the Blackberry devices combine work and personal email into one email box which I do not like at all.
 
Web Browsing – I know that the smaller screen on a smartphone isn’t the best places to browse the internet but I still want a browser that will display web pages on my phone like they would display on my home computer.  I also want to be able to quickly switch between portrait and landscape browsing and also be able to easily scroll through pages and zoom in and out when necessary.  The Apple iPhone seems to be the leader in this area as their pinch to zoom and scrolling technologies have really revolutionized smartphone web browsing.  Also, the HTC Hero just recently came out with a browser that supports Flash technology so that should also improve web browsing on these devices.
 
Social Networking & Instant Messaging Support – Ideally I would prefer to have 1 contact list on my phone and have all e-mail, phone, and Twitter/LinkedIn/Facebook/instant messaging information for all of my contacts in it.  It would also be nice if my smartphone provided me with a streamlined way to interact with these services and contacts without having to go to the providers webpage to update my status or send an instant message. Through my research, I found that the new Palm OS on the Palm Pre does a fantastic job of combining all of your social network contacts into one phonebook contact. 
 
Application Store – I would like an application store with a large assortment of applications for business productivity as well as handy everyday tools for travel and entertainment.  The current leader in this department is clearly Apple’s “App Store” with over 100,000 applications but the open source Android Market (for the HTC Hero, Motorola Droid, HTC Droid Eris and other Android OS phones) is slowly catching up with over 16,000 applications and growing.
 
Wi-Fi Support – I didn’t realize how important seamless cellular to wi-fi support would be when I started shopping for a smartphone but learned quickly.  Not only is the data transfer rate higher for web browsing and running applications but you can also use Skype to place VoIP calls that do not count against your monthly “anytime” minutes allowed by your carrier.
 
Multi-Tasking – I want to be able to quickly switch from writing an e-mail to browsing a webpage to making a phone call to checking stock quotes and back to finishing my e-mail all within seconds or minutes without any application latency. Again, the Palm OS for the Palm Pre really shines in this area as well with a revolutionary new “activity cards” technology that allows users to click a button on the handset and then scroll between and re-activate any of the multitude of applications running on their phone instantly.
 
I do recognize that other features like music/mp3 support and digital camera/video quality may also come into play when making your decision but I thought that most smartphones do an OK job in these areas and I still don’t look to my smartphone to be my primary source for these features. Other areas that I didn’t get into here are phone/data plan pricing and network coverage because I think those are really carrier-specific issues but are definitely important when making this decision.  In case you are interested, I am leaning towards purchasing the HTC Hero from Sprint but I am waiting for the release of the Android 2.0 operating system for this device which should happen in the next month or two.
 
Let me know if there are any other features you consider vital to the use of a smartphone while managing your business away from home.

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Posts Tagged ‘reviews’

5 Must Read Tips for Safe Shopping on Cyber Monday and Beyond

Monday, November 30th, 2009

I was sitting around the dinner table this Thanksgiving telling friends and family about KikScore and a recurring story kept being told by different people. Multiple friends and family relayed horror stories of bad online shopping experiences.  These were just a few of the issues that they experienced:

  • incorrect credit card charges that were never fixed by the retailer;
  • others complained about never receiving their products that they bought from an online store;
  • still others talked about bad experiences with returning products that they purchased; and
  • there were complaints about having no contact information for the online stores so these shoppers had no way of contacting the store when there was an issue with the product.

These complaints do not even include the biggest fears of online shopping which often are worries about identify theft or compromised credit cards.  The common theme in these complaints is that shoppers wished they had more information before the bought from an online retailer.  Armed with that additional information, the shopper thought they would have been able to make a better choice of where to buy from at that time. This is especially the case when you are buying from small businesses that often offer better pricing than the larger retail chains that have online stores but often lack any significant information about the small business.

So with today being Cyber Monday (and I learned it is also the start of hunting season in my wife’s home state of PA so especially for folks in PA your safe tip for today is stay off the streets and on your computer to avoid being caught in the crossfire), here are some online shopping tips I gave friends and family. These tips will allow you, just prior to an online purchase, to quickly help gather key pieces of information so you can make a more informed shopping decision on Cyber Monday and in the future.

1. Contact Information: Make sure that the online store has contact information and preferably a phone number and/or email address so if there is an issue/question that arises post transaction you can contact the store.  Generally this information is under the “Contact Us” tab of a store’s websiste.  Remember phone numbers are generally better than email addresses and email addresses are better than no contact information at all.

2. Return Policy: Look for information regarding the store’s return policy.  This is important for you so you can understand what, if any, policy the store has about handling returns.  Be careful of stores that do not list a return policy or at least acknowledge that returns are accepted.

3. Management/Owner Information:  Look for information about who is the owner of the store.  An online store should provide information about who owns the online store, including their names and ideally some background information on that manager/owner.  I call it their story.  Here is a good example of a store at 17thandRiggs.com that provides information about the owners of the online store. This information gives shoppers comfort that there is a real person behind this store and it is not a fraud site. Some sites even have online videos that introduce the management to shoppers.  This is a good prior post on the use of videos to build credibility for your online store.

4. Trust and Validation Marks/Seals: When you go to a site, there should be some type of third party validation and trust mark that a store can provide a shopper.  These trust and validation marks run the gamut, but check them out and click on them before you buy. They provide different types of information about the store such as whether customer information is stored securely, whether the store’s website is scanned for vulnerabilities, where the store is located, and whether there are privacy and customer service policies.  The stores that have trust and validations marks that provide the greatest amount of information often are considered credible and reliable stores.  A few seals even provide much of the information that is covered in this post through just one seal that resides on an online store’s website. Look for those seals.

5. Customer Feedback: The online store that you are about to buy from should have some customer feedback.  Stores today thrive on this feedback.  Now, buyer beware there are ways to game customer feedback.  Its not hard to have friends or even the store’s owners themselves submit fake feedback.  So be wary of all positive feedback for a site.  With that caveat, online stores should have some feedback mechanism that you should be able to review to see what other purchasers experienced when buying from that store.

6. Bonus Tip – Your Own Internet Search: Use tools such as Domain Tools to quickly research the history of a website.  This is helpful because if the store says its been around for 20 years and you see that the store’s website was just registered last year then that should be a red flag. Also Domain Tools will tell you if that site you are just about to buy from is actually based in Nigeria when they claim they are in the beautiful, Buckeye State of Ohio. Again, this is a quick way to do your own diligence.

Next  do a quick Google search of the store’s entire website name (i.e. www.ClevelandSportsChampionshipTshirts.com) and the management’s name and see what comes up in Google. You can find out a lot about a store from an online search including their Twitter postings, Facebook etc.  Why is this important?  Because it will give you comfort that this is a legitimate store and that there are multiple avenues for you to communicate with the store, if something goes wrong. Also you may come across blog postings about the store which will give you even more feedback about the store.

Lastly, if you have concerns on whether the site is legitimate you can always check out a great tool at Compete.com that will allow you to review the traffic history for an online store.  If there is little to no traffic to the site and the store claims that thousands of people buy every day from the store, then that should be a red flag for you as well.

Start using these tips and hopefully you will have a safe and happy holiday shopping experience online.  Feel free to share if you have any additional safe shopping tips.

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Posts Tagged ‘reviews’

Sell Online? Signup for KikScore 's Free Beta Service

Friday, November 6th, 2009

Try KikScore Free

We here at KikScore want to help small e-tailers and online merchants succeed by selling more.  So we launched a new product late last month that allows small online businesses the ability to demonstrate to online shoppers that their business is trustworthy, reliable and has a trackrecord of success.

How does demonstrating trust help your store out?  Shoppers often look for signs of trust before they buy from an online store. (We discussed this issue here and here previously)  So why not give those shoppers information that directly relates to how trustworthy your business is.

The KikScore service allows you to take both publicly available information and verified information about your business and directly display it to online shoppers on your website.   The information is displayed through a dynamic KikScore seal that is continually being updated.  And even better, all of that information then gets scored and you can display your trust score to your shoppers.  Its like presenting shoppers a continually updated report card about your business. Now, just like in the 6th grade, you can get cash from more customers, in return for your good report card!

Sign Up Information

Please try us out. The service is free for a limited time.  Don’t worry, we will give you at least 60 days notice before we start to to charge for the product and you can cancel at any time.  You can sign up your business here.

Its a no lose situation for you business.  Try out our FREE service that allows your store to demonstrate trust so you can increase sales.

Examples of Some Merchants Using KikScore Seals

If you are wondering how the KikScore seal looks.  Here are three sites that are using the seal:

Interactive Security Group (KikScore’s parent company)

Tuftedtopper.com

17thandRiggs.com

Click here for a free sign ups for the KikScore service.  And come back and tell us what you think in the comments. Also check out the new KikScore video!

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Posts Tagged ‘reviews’

WSJ Article — Online Reviews Suffer From Grade Inflation

Sunday, October 11th, 2009

A recent Wall Street Journal Article examined a troubling trend with online shopping reviews — that these reviews benefit from higher grade inflation than a star power forward at Duke.  As Geoffrey Fowler and Joesph De Avila write, the average review given is 4.3/5 stars.  There are a handful of explanations offered for this trend, including  psychological – people are more likely to remember positive experiences.  But the most interesting reason offered is that critical reviews are removed from the calculation and reviewers are repeatedly critical are barred from some sites.  While this practice definitely skews the reliability of these reviews, I’m sure it’s similar to the corrective action taken when a rogue Spanish professor tries to fail that same Duke power forward for skipping language lab.  It’s simply not going to happen — or if it does happen, that Spanish professor will not be teaching at Duke very long.

Back to the point.  While shopper/user reviews can be very helpful, if the grade inflation persists, they will just become an empty marketing tool.  Continuing the academia analogy, using these inflated reviews to make shopping decisions (and who to share your personal information with) will be like getting a medical referral from the hacky-sack playing hippie who is in the 7th year of his Pre-Med undergrad.  I’ll go easy on our product pitch, but the ability for these reviews to be marked up (or less than objective) was a big motivation to create KikScore.  More on that later.  Until then, let’s all start providing realistic shopper reviews.

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