Scott Harris, CEO of SocialSurvey, Responds to Google’s Stance on Review Gating

San Ramon, California, May 15, 2018—SocialSurvey’s CEO, Scott Harris responds to Google’s new content policy on review gating. He sees this change for online reputation management as positive with much improvement to come with platforms well beyond just Google.

“Google’s decision is a massive step in the right direction, and I applaud them. They are making a decision that protects the consumers, the platform, and even the companies that are a part of it. While this may sound backward, great companies value negative reviews as much as the positive ones. They see themselves as customer service organizations and focus on the customer experience. Negative reviews are a great insight.” -Scott Harris, SocialSurvey CEO

Scott Harris, CEO of SocialSurvey Responds to Google’s Stance on Review Gating from Team SocialSurvey on Vimeo.

These changes began last month when Google updated its Contributed Content Policy (April 12, 2018) to prohibit companies from discouraging negative reviews and/or soliciting reviews from only happy consumers. While there have been already several interpretations of the language, the exact words Google used on the matter are:

“Don’t discourage or prohibit negative reviews or selectively solicit positive reviews from customers.”

The specifics of the content policy can be found here: Maps Users Content Policy Help

Recent studies show that 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much (or more) than recommendations from friends & family. Reviews have become a primary driver for the way consumers make buying decisions. It also means companies that are finding a way to send only their happiest consumers to write reviews are, in effect, lying to prospects. If that is the case, it doesn’t take long to connect the dots to the two natural conclusions:

  • Consumers who rely on this slanted information are actually being damaged and may have a legitimate complaint if truthful reviews would have protected them from a bad decision.
  • Consumers are smart. They will naturally stop trusting reviews when their actual experiences don’t align with the stories they are reading on review sites.

In February of 2017, the FTC saw this coming and took a step to protect consumers from the damage this could cause, and adopted the “Consumer Review Fairness Act”. The Act allows companies to protect themselves from inappropriate content. It also protects consumers from bad business practices by giving equal attention to consumers posting honest (negative) reviews.

Other review platforms will follow the leader on this decision. In the real estate and mortgage industries, for example, during SocialSurvey’s conversations with both Zillow and LendingTree, both companies agree that credible data on their platform is critical to continue to maintain consumer trust. The trend looks like it won’t be long until most review platforms adopt the same content policies.

Recently, SocialSurvey has had several data integration conversations with large platforms interested in collecting and sharing the true voice of the consumer. At SocialSurvey, a data feed is required from clients that connects the platform to 100% of the company’s closed transactions. It is SocialSurvey’s belief that for a review to be truly verified, it must be automated via a data connection. It would be extremely difficult for the major platforms to duplicate this model. However, it is not challenging for these platforms to integrate data from companies who specialize in collecting the true voice of the consumer. This conversation has just begun. SocialSurvey is both excited and appreciative to Google for taking this definitive position.


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