We all know apartment reviews hold significant power in shaping the reputation of multifamily properties. But recently, apartment communities have become increasingly targeted by spam or fraudulent reviews with potential to mislead prospects and undermine the credibility of genuine, positive feedback.
Have you noticed the recent uptick in spam reviews for your community? If so, you're not alone. Here are a few ways you can fight back against fraudulent or spam reviews.How to spot a fake review
Let's be real, these bots and content farms are not that clever, so most spam or fraudulent reviews are easy enough to spot.
Bragging about their Crypto cashout, leaving a WhatsApp number, or generally irrelevant content are typically signs of a spam campaign. Unusual grammar or mispelled words could also indicate the review is fraudulent—though not always, making it all the more important to be proactive in your reputation management and review monitoring.
Unfortunately spam posts will often include a five-star review, which may help your overall star rating, but will ultimately hurt community credibility in the eyes of your prospects.
Imagine getting ready to go out to a nice restaurant. You check the reviews and see a fabulous rating, but dig deeper to see that the most recent positive reviews are all spam—I bet you'll think twice before making that reservation. The same goes for your prospects.
Ensuring your community reviews are genuine and free from misleading spam posts is an essential part of reputation management—so here's what you can do to combat fake apartment reviews.
1. Daily monitoring to report or flag suspicious reviews immediately
Monitoring your community reviews should be a daily task for your on-site teams so you can quickly identify and report any fraudulent posts. Many websites have a process to report or flag suspicious or harmful reviews, but most have their own set of guidelines when it comes to which reviews will be deemed inappropriate, and therefore removed.
For example, Google will only remove reviews that violate its content policy, and they have said publicly that Google will not get involved if there is a customer service issue or dispute about facts. If you encounter a situation where you believe a reviewer is being dishonest about a situation, it's best to respond promptly and work with the reviewer to resolve the issue offline as these posts are still considered genuine, despite alternative facts in the case.
Not only will daily monitoring help keep up with review response (which should be happening on every genuine review that comes across your community channels), it will also play a big role in combating spam comments and reviews.
2. Leverage review management tools and services
If daily monitoring of review sites isn't a possibility for your busy team, leveraging review management tools or response services could be an option to help improve your overall reputation.
Reputation response services specifically designed for the multifamily industry can ensure your reviews are being handled efficiently and appropriately by Fair Housing-trained professionals.
Additionally reputation monitoring platforms are available to streamline review response if you want to keep management in-house. These platforms can connect to multiple review sites, giving your team the ability to review and respond to comments in one easy-to-navigate dashboard.
3. Disable reviews on low-traffic sites prone to spam
When it comes to consumer influence, no one does it better than Google reviews. Which means some sites that are more prone to spam have become inconsequential for improving community reputation.
Facebook, for example, has been slow to respond to an increase in spam comments and reviews on business pages, especially in the multifamily industry. As you can see from screenshots below individuals are using Facebook's recommendation tools to tout their Bitcoin fortune, and connect with people who have a "zest for life"—creepy, right?
Despite Facebook's large number of global users, the recommendation tool has not been utilized as intended since Google took over as the go-to space for consumer reviews. For many communities, targeted spam posts are the only recommendations coming across their Facebook page. Therefore it may be beneficial to consider turning off the recommendation function to help save your on-site team time and frustration from battling with bots over reviews. Turning off recommendations will hide all past reviews and will remove the option to recommend your community on Facebook. Your old reviews will still be available if you choose to turn the function back on.
4. Encourage genuine reviews from your residents
The best way to overshadow a fake review is to encourage genuine ones. Asking happy residents to submit a positive review for your community will go a long way in combating the spammers.
Automated review solicitation tools are available for multifamily properties hoping to encourage more positive interactions on review sites. These tools analyze resident behavior and only select your happiest tenants to participate so you can be confident that the reviews will be genuine and positive.Today's digital era requires more vigilant reputation management
As AI technology like ChatGPT becomes more prevalent in today's online world, we can expect spam to become more prominent. So it is important to have a plan to minimize their impact on your community reputation.
Is your community staying vigilant in the fight against spam reviews and fraudulent comments? Let me know how you're managing them in the comments!