Photo: Irina Wilhauk (Shutterstock)
Online reviews are a huge part of how we spend money nowadays, and nothing makes people hit that “Order Now” button like a 5-star review. Unfortunately, good reviews are so easily bought and faked that they often drown out the legit ones—even if they’re equally positive.
If you’re trying to write a helpful, glowing review, the best thing you can do is stand out from the pack. Your first goal should be to write something that people can read, so The Golden Rule of Reviews—get to the point—still applies. Besides that, these four criteria will ensure your review has a purpose.
How specific should a 5-star review be?
A slew of contextless 4- and 5-star reviews doesn’t look promising; it looks scammy. If you’re leaving a great review, anyone who reads it will want to know why—so tell them.
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What specifically made the food and service at a new restaurant so great? If you were pleasantly surprised by how quickly an online order arrived, how long did it take to ship? Why does this particular item work so well for you? Would it work the same for everyone, or does it depend on individual factors like shoe size, skin, hair type, or body shape? Don’t write a whole novel, but be sure to include details like these.
Write like a regular person, not a copywriter
I’m a copywriter, so I’m allowed to say this: So many online reviews are actually ad copy in a trench coat and Groucho Marx glasses. It’s not even subtle. This wouldn’t be a problem if the vast majority of these reviews didn’t also contain a line about receiving the product for free in exchange for an honest, unbiased review. Wink.
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Getting free stuff in exchange for a review is fine, to be clear, but whether or not you paid for the product in question is irrelevant if your review is just multiple paragraphs of regurgitated marketing buzzwords. Readers can get that on the company’s website. It’s much better to keep your language natural and specific and the overall review brief; bogus reviews never quite manage all three.
Add the right context to your review
With highly personal things like clothes, shoes, and cosmetics, “good” is relative. If you’re at all able to do so, include some relevant, non-identifying information about yourself to explain why you like something so much. Shoes are the perfect example: A 5-star review that says a size 9 1/2 fit perfectly is fine; one that also mentions the reviewer normally wears a size 10 in Nike women’s sneakers is gold. It gives the reader some basis for comparison, which makes their choices easier.
Not all comparisons are useful, however. Complimenting one thing by trashing another is never a good look. You’re not reviewing that other bar across town, so why bring it up at all—let alone for the express purpose of talking shit. It makes you look petty and mean, but more importantly, it’s useless.
Never identify workers by name
At some point, people decided that the best way to reward a service worker for a job well done is to tattle on them to their boss, but like, in a positive way. Although this can work in some scenarios, a public, online review is definitely not one of them. If you absolutely must compliment a specific person, contact the business directly or save it for an online customer satisfaction survey. The right people will still hear about your great interaction with Tina, but the rest of the internet won’t.
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