Building trust with consumers is crucial for any business. It builds brand accountability and credibility which are essential for fostering long-term relationships and driving sustainable growth. 

Online reviews play a significant role in this trust building, and in shaping consumer decisions, and thus, ensuring the integrity and transparency of those reviews is critical. That’s why the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently updated its Endorsement Guidelines, aimed at preventing deceptive practices related to online reviews.

Here’s how the updated guidelines impact displaying reviews on your website, point-of-sale, mobile app or landing pages:

Key Changes in FTC Guidelines:

  • Clear and Conspicuous Disclosures: If you choose to only showcase a selection of reviews, the FTC emphasizes the need for clear and conspicuous disclosures. This means explicitly stating that the displayed reviews are a selection, not the entire picture. Avoid misleading language that implies all reviews are included. 
  • Labeling Filtered Reviews: Use clear and easily understandable labels when presenting curated reviews. Labels like “Selected Highlights,” “Positive Experiences,” or “Recent Reviews” accurately communicate the nature of the displayed set.
  • Accessibility of All Reviews: Alongside any curated selection, provide a readily accessible link or clear information on how to access all your reviews. This ensures transparency and empowers consumers to make informed decisions.

Best Practices for Ethical Review Display:

  • Transparency is Key: Be upfront about which reviews are being displayed and why. Transparency builds trust with consumers and aligns with the FTC guidelines.
  • Avoid Misleading Labeling: Don’t imply complete representation when showcasing a subset of reviews. Use accurate and honest labels that reflect the selection criteria.
  • Offer Access to All Reviews: Empower consumers to make informed decisions by providing easy access to all your reviews, even negative ones. This demonstrates commitment to honesty and accountability.

Remember, complying with the FTC guidelines protects your business from potential legal action and reputational damage.

While some businesses might be tempted to incentivize reviews to boost participation, it’s important to remember that the FTC strictly prohibits paying for positive reviews or offering¬†incentives conditioned on a specific sentiment. Violating these guidelines can result in costly legal action and damage your reputation.¬†

Ultimately, authentic, unsolicited reviews hold more weight with consumers and provide valuable insights for business improvement. It is recommended that companies personalize survey invitations as much as possible. Before the survey invite is sent, highlight the impact of feedback, positive or negative. Remember, building trust through transparency and genuine customer feedback is more sustainable and beneficial in the long run.

Craig Pollack,
VP of Market Insights

Additional Resources:

FTC Endorsement Guidelines: https://www.ftc.gov/business-guidance/resources/ftcs-endorsement-guides-what-people-are-asking

FTC Business Guidance on Using Endorsements: https://www.ftc.gov/business-guidance/resources/ftcs-endorsement-guides-what-people-are-asking

Disclaimer: This information is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for legal advice. We recommend consulting with legal counsel to ensure compliance with relevant regulations.

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