Lets be honest, when you read that title and clicked this article, you thought I was going to teach you how to get tons of reviews on Amazon.  Sorry to burst your bubble but something happened today that will make that process a whole lot harder.  Amazon announced that it is making a significant change to its Community Guidelines, which will eliminate any incentivized reviews, except for those that emerge from within its own Amazon Vine program.  According to Amazon,

“Amazon Vine invites the most trusted reviewers on Amazon to post opinions about new and pre-release items to help their fellow customers make informed purchase decisions. Amazon invites customers to become Vine Voices based on their reviewer rank, which is a reflection of the quality and helpfulness of their reviews as judged by other Amazon customers.”

Gone are the days when Amazon allowed you to offer free or extremely discounted products to customers in exchange for their “honest” review.  I put honest in quotations because we all know when product is given for free the reviewer has a hard time giving it a bad review.  That’s not just a “feeling,” as it turns out – a recent study of over 7 million reviews indicated that the average rating for products with incentivized reviews was higher than non-incentivized ones. (That is, a 4.74 average rating versus a 4.36 average rating, out of 5 stars).

That doesn’t sound like a big deal right?  Wrong!  Those approximately .4 points bring products from an average rating on Amazon to the top 94%.  Furthermore, these incentivized reviewers are generally less likely to give the brand a dreaded 1-star review.

So what now?

With any change to a platform, people will evolve and find loopholes, that is human nature.

Alternatively, being the brand purist that I am, I think if you build strong brand equity you wouldn’t have to worry about being “shady” with reviews.  I understand this is easier said than done but if you haven’t noticed these large companies like Google, Facebook, and Amazon are making widespread platform changes to close loopholes.  The days when brands could manipulate things to get ahead quick are slowly dying.  My advice is to start actually getting to work on building a legitimate brand.