If you think the way to deal with senior living consumer reviews is to write fake reviews think again.

A week or so ago I was talking to Amelia Wilson of SeniorAdvisor.com and she expressed surprise at the number of fake reviews that are being submitted each week.  I got to thinking fake reviews are worth talking about.  In doing research for this article I tried my hand at submitting a few fake reviews, at the end of the article I will share how that worked out.  

Why Fake Reviews Are Bad

If you write or attempt to write fake reviews, it is bad for your senior community, it is bad for the senior housing industry and it is bad for the review sites. 

Writing a fake positive review for your own community takes time, energy, writing skills and a willingness to be a fraud. 

If you operate a great community you will be better served spending that time and energy getting residents and their families to write real reviews about why your community is a great place to live.  It will take less effort and you can sleep better at night.  If you don’t have such a great community and you write fake review about how great you are, when people come to tour your building, they will immediately know the reviews were fake and it will  make you look less credible.  It will accomplish the exact opposite of what you are trying to accomplish.  

Writing fake negatives reviews about your competitors . . .  I almost hate to address this ugly part of the business . . . mostly because I would hope that no one who reads Senior Housing Forum would stoop to something so unethical (if you would do that, you will probably get mad that I insulted you and unsubscribe or quit reading, and that’s ok with me.) Writing a fake negative review that sounds real is even more difficult than writing a positive review. 

On top of that, every single senior community has so much competition in their marketplace you have to figure out who to attack.  And . . . if your competitor finds out . . . I promise it will come back to haunt you.  Finally, if you write a fake review about a competitor that runs a great or even good community, they have lots of tools at their disposal to mitigate a fake review.  

My Fake Reviews

I posted fake reviews at two websites one of which was SeniorAdvisor.com a blog sponsor, the other will go un-named.  I posted the same positive review and the same negative review at both sites, but not for the same communities.  I picked random communities in random marketplaces and I only posted those reviews at communities that had not claimed their listing. SeniorAdvisor.com had a slight advantage in that they knew I was going to be posting some fake reviews but not where or when. 

They were both caught and didn’t get published.  

The other review site published both the negative and positive reviews (Once they got published I went back in and removed them).  

The Big Problem with Consumer Reviews

The biggest problem with consumer reviews is that you guys who operate senior housing communities are not taking full advantage of them as a resource.  So as an incentive and because SeniorAdvisor.com is a partner we are going to hold a little drawing to win one of our new cool Senior Housing Forum Coffee mugs here is how it will work:

  • If you have claimed your listing at SeniorAdvisor.com post a link to that claimed page in the comments below and will receive one chance to win.
  • For each review that has been published on the site, you will receive an additional chance to win.  
  • When you post in addition to posting the link to your claimed SeniorAdvisor.com page, toot your horn a little.  Say something about your community and include a link.
  • The contest will run through September 1, 2013.

Steve Moran