Window Cleaners, Astroturfing, and the Net

mconnors - morguefileYou learn a new word or phrase every day. Astroturfing: the act of creating fake reviews online to appeal to customers. Looking better than the competition is what every small business owner strives for, and window cleaners are no exception. We build websites, write newsletters, deal with direct mail campaigns … and create fake reviews?! Well, maybe.¬†

As a writer and someone who works online, I know there are companies that pay for writers, from the U.S. and overseas, to write fake reviews. The money is minuscule, but how hard is it to say, “They showed up on time and did a great job?” Who could it hurt?

Well, apparently I am not the only one who thinks it is wrong. Several small business owners, just like you and I, got busted! An article today on Yahoo!Finance reveals that the NY Attorney General got involved and the result was several small businesses paying a total of $350k in fines. Yikes!

One small business owner was so frustrated with his bad reviews that he went on a campaign to add good reviews and up his average score. Not the best idea. He was fined $43k for his efforts. My guess is that he is realizing that he should have just fixed the problem that was causing the bad reviews in the first place.

I guess it is a choice that everyone has to make for themselves. Do you stoop to the level of your competitors, or do you become the cream that rises to the top naturally?!

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