Around the first of the month I publish the number of the month, a random bit of local trivia.
64% vs 27%
- The percentage of favorable responses to the Avalon plan since the Progress Partners “call to action” on March 21st versus the percentage before.
Online reviews can be great. They can be a powerful tool in a decision making process. It might be a book on Amazon, restaurant on Yelp, an app in the iPhone store or a multimillion dollar mixed-use activity center in Alpharetta. Online reviews can provide great feedback and serve as a proxy for overall public opinion.
But the integrity of online reviews is diminished when a group solicits for reviews with a directed response, aka “shilling.” This is what happened last week when Progress Partners and the Chamber openly told members to give positive reviews of Avalon on the city’s online forum. The results of this action are measurable. Prior to March 21st, when reviews were more organic in nature, only 27% of respondents gave Avalon an “I like it” review, the most favorable choice. After the campaign nearly two thirds of the reviews were most favorable.
Shill campaigns like this undermine the credibility of the entire review process and online forum. It does a disservice to those seeking to use the results as a decision-making tool (planning commissioners and city councilmen). The campaign itself was also unethical, something I wrote about last week.