Authenticity – Most abused word in the Internet

The other day, I was reading about “authentic” and “authenticity” and did a research on how many people use that word…most of the websites i saw did use the word without any reference to it…they actually abused it again and again.

Examples of Abuse

One website (would not want to quote…) used the word Authentic Happiness. What is that supposed to mean? Does it mean “Happiness” is itself authentic or was it that the person was offering Genuine Happiness? This raised way too many questions on

  • Can Happiness be really Authentic the way they claim?
  • Are most of the people so sad that, happiness itself is now termed as authentic or genuine or original?
  • Can people offer Authentic Happiness? What if I feel sad?
    many more….

Reading them actually made me sad and demotivated :) than being happy….

Another common abusive use of authenticity that generally we see is in form of Testimonials. Most of the websites you see today talk about Client Testimonials, What Clients say, Client Speak, etc,… and they all brag about it being authentic and genuine… But how? Who took the responsibility of telling its authentic or Not?

Stats say that 74% of Testimonials available on websites are just typed ones… which means… the customer said something and the owner modified to suit it great…  Another set of Stats say that 43% of Testimonials are just Fake…which means the customer said nothing but the owner put many things on it…

So the basic question that comes into mind is “What is the use of viewing testimonials which are not authenticated or verified?”… Should we really believe them? Or were these testimonials meant to be only as a filler or place holder to make the website look neat and clean rather than a TRUST concept?

Use of Review Websites

Ok… if we cannot authenticate on websites, lets take a look at the Review sites, you might and will get authentic testimonials there about a business… Are we sure about it? What are the problems

  1. Most of the Reviews available are on the review website… The owner cannot use them on their website or for their marketing purpose as he cannot pull them onto theirs… Also Nowadays with Many social media in place the owner of the website is never able to showcase their testimonials to their Facebook, twitter or linked in pages… nothing at all…
  2. Most of the Reviews seen are Negative (Very few are positive), which means Owner does not want to use them at all
  3. There are many Review websites for each industry… E.g. You have TripAdvisor, Holiday IQ, Squidoo, virtual tourist… for Travel industry or Yelp, Zagat, Fodors…. for restaurant reviews…  and many more…
    While you find positive reviews on one website, you will find negative at the other…  you get mad about what review to read for which place? Nothing is at one place? Finally there is no review system for small businesses at all… why are they deprived of it?

Finally did we see any authenticity available for both Businesses and Customers to feel good and have the trust factor? NO…  So is it worthy having testimonials this way? NO.

What is the solution?

Have Testimonials that can be authenticated and verified. Display the name, contact and location of the person giving the testimonial. If you can add a photo of the person giving testimonials better. Much better if it is a video testimonial. If we say a Picture talks a Thousand Words, a Video talks a Thousand pictures… so get video testimonials from you customers (not by using actors).

Did you know F.T.C (US) 2009 guidelines  say, it is illegal to display improper or un-verified testimonials on websites?

Use Testimonial Clouds and Reputation Manager systems such as TestimonialsFor, to request and manage your authenticated testimonials. These systems will not only be your Reputation builder but also be your reputation manager and business improver. They can help you reach larger system by effective use of social media and social graph systems.

For more details you could look TestimonialsFor website and How their concept works.

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