When planning to purchase a technical product, for example a smartphone, most of us today prefer watching YouTube reviews about this product to make a purchase decision. We rely on the honesty, integrity, and experience of these creators to help us understand what we can and can’t expect from your purchase.
But like not all news is true, not all reviews are real. Fake reviews are very common and sometimes it can be difficult to distinguish them from real ones.
Here are seven signs to look out for that a technical review might be fake.
1. The review ended before the product was announced
You’d think that was pretty obvious, but a lot of people still fell prey to it. Companies like Apple, Samsung, Google, and more send their unreleased products to major content creators before the official launch, so creators can test the products and create a video of them.
In a way, it’s a win-win situation. Creators have to create and publish content early to get more views and the company gets an extra source of marketing. But because of the so-called “blocking period”, companies restrict content creators to posting content before a certain date – which is usually the device launch date.
This is why if you see a full review of a tech product before the device is officially announced on stage, chances are that the review is fake, and the person doesn’t actually own the device or have any hands-on experience with it whatsoever.
This is a bit difficult myself. Giveaways are another increasingly popular way for brands to force a positive review on content creators. Here’s how it works: The company sends the creator several products to send to their audience in the form of free gifts.
On the surface, this might seem like a nice move because you get a chance to win free stuff. But since the creator now has those free goodies to offer to their audience (usually in exchange for a social media following), they are more likely to say good things about that product.
Because of course, if you hate the product and don’t want to endorse it, you won’t. But these free giveaways give you an incentive to market those products. After all, you would never say, “This product is rubbish. Please follow me on Instagram for a chance to win one.”
Sponsored videos in and of themselves aren’t a bad thing. It’s a way for content creators to earn a living for their hard work and help upgrade their equipment, pay employees and services, and so on. But what is not true is when someone covers a teaser video as a review.
A review is, by definition, not sponsored because sponsored videos often have very strict guidelines about what the creator can and cannot say about the product. The review is your personal experience and opinion about the product, not what the company wants to say about it.
Speaking of video, if a video is sponsored, it should always be publicly disclosed. Ideally, at the beginning of the video. This way, you as a viewer are aware and protect against any unfair bias that the creator may have about the product for any reason. Just putting a link in the description is not indicative enough.
4. The Creator does not share their opinions
People watch reviews to see how the product works in real life and for real people. This includes the creator sharing their personal views, opinions, experiences, and judgment on this product. In other words, to what extent this product has helped them in real world scenarios.
What you don’t want is a video in which the creator repeats things you’ve already seen in the ads, without including their personal experience or ideas about the product. Sure, you need to know the specifications and technologies of the product, but the point remains: the review should include subjective items.
5. The Creator does not speak of obvious features
Due to contractual agreements, companies can restrict creators from talking about certain aspects or features of their product for fear of bad press. A good example of this is the Google Pixel 6.
Google restricted creators from talking about software features on the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, and required creators to keep their videos limited to covering their first impressions, device specs, hardware, and the home screen. That’s it.
If you are watching a video of a product that you intend to buy, you want relevant information about it to make a good buying decision. But if the creator does not talk about features that should be obvious (such as the sound quality on headphones), the video will not be considered a review.
6. The Creator never shows his face
This red flag is more complex and can have exceptions, but if the creator does not show his face in his videos, the review is likely fake. Because if you’re producing fake content just to earn some quick AdSense revenue, it makes sense that you don’t want that content to be associated with your personal identity.
It is understandable if you, as a creator, do not want to show your face for privacy reasons. But you are expected to do so if you own a tech review channel because it gives viewers a sense of security that you and your content are authentic and worthy of trust.
While this red flag may not be enough to justify the review as a fake per se. But, if the creator does not show his face and meets some of these other signs, the review may be fake.
Similar to the last point, if the creator does not have any social media presence on any major platform, that is reason enough to doubt their authenticity. Because ideally, if you are trying to build a business out of your channel, you can market it.
But being on social media as a creator comes with a supposed obligation to be accountable for your content. And if there is no way you can verify the identity of the creator, it is probably not the best idea to make a purchase decision based on what they say.
Stay aware of fake comments
Fake reviews are nothing new. They have been around since the advent of video hosting platforms. New are the creative ways fake content creators have discovered to lure you and make you believe what they say.
But as a viewer and potential consumer looking to make a purchase, you should always be aware if the person behind the review you are viewing is credible and knows what they are talking about.
Put it in rice and chia seeds and walk back around the room three times to dry your phone. This works, right?
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