What Is Review Gating?
In the modern age of multi-family housing, property owners and operators encounter the pivotal task of steering their digital image to try and attract new residents. In an effort to improve a property’s online appearance, one strategy that has sparked both interest and controversy is known as “review gating.” Review gating refers to the practice of selectively soliciting feedback from residents/customers based on their initial sentiment or experience. In general this process involves filtering out customers who may have had a negative experience or are likely to leave a negative review, while actively encouraging those who had positive experiences to leave reviews. Furthermore, it can be demonstrated by a process where companies send a message asking first if an experience was positive or negative. Following which, those who indicate a positive experience are sent to leave an online review, and those who indicate a negative experience are instantly branched from the path, such as being sent to fill a form for comments that will never be made public.
What Do Google and Others Say About Review Gating?
It is important to know the guidelines of the platforms on which online reviews appear. Many guidelines apply to the writers/authors of the reviews, including who can leave a review, the type of language or content that may not be used in reviews, or other restrictions that may result in a disapproval or removal of a review. There are also many considerations, however, that apply to businesses and how they collect or respond to a review.
It should also be noted that neither Google or other major review sites use the term “Review Gating,” neither do they have “anti-gating” policies. They do however enforce User-Generated Content Policies (Google), Terms of Service (Apartments.com), Community Guidelines (Facebook), and similar policies which touch on the practices that may or may not be used as it relates to review generation. In any case, all sources agree that none should “discourage or prohibit negative reviews or selectively solicit positive reviews from customers.”
Opiniion’s Stance on Review Gating
We define Review Gating as: An industry term that represents a collection of all the policies given by the FTC, Google, and other review sites.
Opiniion is at the forefront against the practice know as review gating and ensures that whether a customer’s sentiment is good or bad, they will be sent to the same place, including to the public review platform should they choose to do so. Reviews are useful for prospective customers when they’re objective and honest. Having a mix of positive and negative reviews is more trustworthy than positive alone. As such, Opiniion adheres strictly to the policies and expectations set by each review platform, in addition to government bureaus such as the FTC. Furthermore, Opiniion’s process has been reviewed by Google and acknowledged as compliant.
Gating is one way to avoid negative reviews and while it portrays your property/business in the best of light, it is quite misleading. It brings up ethical and compliance concerns, and is overall a dishonest practice. At the end of the day, each resident must have the same opportunity, and be given the same process in your pursuit to get reviews.
Rather than implementing methods such as review gating, there are other ways to combat negative reviews and put them to work for you. Responding to both positive and negative reviews, for example, can show you are professional and dedicated to your residents, while allowing you to tell your side of the story.
Am I at Risk of Review Gating?
Review gating can occur via software, email, and even in person, so you must take extra care no matter how you drive reviews. The goal of review gating is to artificially boost a business’s online rating by predominantly showcasing positive feedback and silencing the negative feedback. Some property management professionals use platforms which are non compliant with review site polices, who filter reviews, or hide negative reviews entirely. When it comes to software providers who generate reviews, make certain that you know how they generate reviews and if they comply with the policies provided by each review site, as not all of them do.