It has become one of the biggest stories of the New Year: fake news. Some say it helped sway the Presidential Election. Others insist it has been used to fuel smear campaigns against public figures. In December, a Twitter hoax claimed the Minnesota Vikings were going to open their state-of-the-art new stadium for the homeless on a cold night.
By now, most people have been exposed to fake news in some capacity, particularly on Facebook. This has increased skepticism of published reports, particularly those that do not originate from trusted sources.
For the multifamily industry, this might be a good thing.
With opinion sites influencing upwards of 54% of leasing decisions, according to an NMHC/Kingsley Renter Preferences study, increased awareness of fake information could make prospects more suspicious of negative reviews. Some angry residents will post exaggerated rants to harm a community because they didn’t get their way. In rarer cases, competitors will plant negative reviews, posing as an unhappy resident to disparage a competing property.
False information can have a serious impact on businesses and the reputations of the people who work there. Its impact is too great to be dismissed as meaningless. The troubling stories about fake news have put all organizations, including external review providers, on notice that they should improve the accuracy of the information posted on their sites.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean fake reviews won’t continue to happen. If your communities are victimized with fake reviews, there are a few things you can do to mitigate them and prevent reputation damage.
Fake news and fake reviews will not disappear anytime soon. Many will still spread lies, half-truths, and misinformation to manipulate opinions. But now that awareness of fake information and its consequences has spread, those falsely disparaging your communities will have less of a leg to stand on.