Nokia found itself in hot water this week after posting a product “review” of its Lumia 620 on the company’s Conversations blog. However, the assessment didn’t come from an impartial third party, but from blogger Adam Fraser, whom Nokia reportedly paid to evaluate its new smartphone.
The overly enthusiastic piece was posted on the company blog, so there was nothing inherently wrong with publishing promotional marketing content. The issue arose when Nokia attempted to classify the biased article as a “review.”
Fraser refers to Nokia as “we” and “our,” but the article and writer profile do not explicitly reveal his relationship with the company. This lack of transparency raises questions as to whether Nokia was trying to sweep the association under the rug or somehow mislead.
While Nokia was obviously hoping for coverage of its new product, this hasty post drew the wrong kind of press attention.
Tech media quickly saw through Nokia’s tactics and attacked, making headlines and ultimately damaging both the reputation of the new phone and the company’s integrity.
After catching much flak, Nokia changed “review” to “hands-on” in the post’s title, but hasn’t made further efforts to amend any wrongdoing.
It’s easy to see Nokia’s motivation. Online reviews can be stunningly powerful when genuine. A recent Nielson report revealed that 70% of worldwide consumers trust online reviews, which is more than any other type of advertising except personal recommendations.
But these commendations cannot and should not be faked. Paid endorsements raise a slew of ethical issues, particularly if not properly disclosed. And the entire reputation of a company is at stake when such chicanery is exposed.
In the end, it is best to remain truthful and credible with your customers. There is never a substitute for integrity and once you have lost that, it is gone forever.