I came across something interested. The Shed at Dulwich was the number 1 top-rated restaurant in London, and it didn’t even really exist.
This short documentary film would show how, in a span of 6 months, one guy fooled the system into thinking that it had the best restaurant in the city, not to mention that it was fully booked 100% of the time for actual customers to validate.
If there’s anything to pick-up from this experiment, I can say it’s that TripAdvisor banks on the “word of mouth” marketing by letting individuals trust a brand based on the reviews and ratings by their peers. People are easily swayed to believe something if it’s recommended by somebody they trust.
You must’ve already seen this in any other place, not just TA, even on Facebook – the simple “Friend likes this” alert. This tells you it must be fine, and it lowers your guard in actually believing that something isn’t true or might not be good.
With this knowledge at hand, it kind of makes you question the legitimacy of things online, and how we’ve come to the stage where we ignore all possible signals we see personally, in exchange for what we’ve read in reviews by our friends.
Can you still do this now that it’s been found out? Yes. You possibly can. It’s a matter of finding a method to abuse. With the ever-changing algorithms of social media networks, how are you planning to apply such a growth-hack method to establish your presence online?
After all, if a non-existent entity became number 1 on a legit platform like Tripadvisor, beating more than 18,000 companies in a span of 6 months, what makes your existent brand or company not achieve the same?