Back to the Blog

How the Lightning Network potentially solves fake reviews

News

Reviews have become unreliable. We are constantly plagued by fake reviews. I have worked in digital marketing for SMBs, eCommerce, and early-stage companies for over a decade. I am intimately familiar with the strategies that businesses deploy to foster great reviews.

The marketing strategy nowadays is to create funnels to capture good reviews and funnel bad reviews into a customer nurturing sequence. This is primarily because consumers do not have a real incentive to leave positive reviews, but instead have an incentive to leave bad reviews (often to simply vent frustrations or get something at a discount or free).

This can potentially be fixed with Bitcoin and the Lightning Network. It is possible to create an incentive model that rewards users for leaving real, quality reviews that are up to date, validate prior reviews, and align with the latest customer experience.

How review generation currently works

Often when businesses ask for reviews users get sent down one of two funnels. These funnels are executed using either an email drip campaign, a text message campaign, or a platform in-store. The two funnels represent whether a customer had a positive experience or a negative experience.

For the last eight or so years, I have seen most brands funnel a good experience to a live third-party website so the review can be displayed on the web, Google My Business for instance. For customers with a bad experience, however, brands want to funnel these to a customer service rep or feedback form so that improvements can be made, and the reviews are never published on the web.

What is really wild is that in the last year I have seen many brands paying customers off for reviews, offering $25-100 gift cards when customers are willing to leave feedback. This creates manipulation in the review market. I personally have made about $300 in the last year or so leaving reviews and getting paid for doing so.

The current review generation model isn’t at its best

In the current structure, brands are only rewarding users for bad reviews. This means they get more bad reviews. Mix that with how many fake reviews or bots and we have an exponential problem. People often know they can get a discount or free service for leaving a bad review, oftentimes a business will follow up to “make things right” and then try to get the reviewer to update the review to reflect the new experience.

This is a completely broken model. However, there is one potential new idea that can help solve this issue. This is where Bitcoin and the Lightning Network come in. 

How I see the Lightning Network solving the review problem

This is where I believe Lightning can bring accountability, transparency, and truth back to the online reviews world. 

We as consumers value customer reviews and ultimately word of mouth of other consumers. Fake reviews are estimated to be between 4-39% yearly, by the World Economic Forum (no one loves these guys) and translate into about $152 billion in purchases a year.

The Lightning Network could give brands the ability to reward users for leaving high-quality real reviews. The rewards would operate in the form of micropayments, in sats, which allow fast transfer and easy withdrawal.

Good reviews drive revenue. Businesses are rewarded for giving good experiences and reviews make a direct impact on inbound customers and revenue. Bad reviews deter customers from interacting and engaging with businesses that offer bad experiences.

Lightning can encourage all customers with a good or bad experience to leave a review. And an accurate review, which is the most important point. 

How to create the incentive

Review platforms could move to a model where users who leave quality reviews can get tipped by customers who are influenced by the prior reviews and had a good experience. The higher quality of the review, the more a person can earn for adding true value that reflects the experience the brand creates.

If a good review brings a customer in, and the experience of this new customer was good, they can tip the original review author. If the experience was bad the author can share specific feedback.

This would socialize reviews and create a system where users can filter reviews by good or bad, view the votes, and quickly identify if they like the experience.

All users would load sats from their lightning wallet to the review platform so that sats can be streamed to the proper users at the right time. For instance:

  • When leaving a review
  • When upvoting a review
  • When downvoting a review
  • When commenting on a review

Every action should have a small fractional cost. On the same note, each action would reward engaged users with sats for adding value and giving accurate and legitimate information.

The Takeaway

  1. Make it possible so that users are incentivized to leave honest reviews and get rewarded for doing so.
  2. Create a cost function for reviews to stop bots and fake reviews. By incurring a cost, bots reduce, and users will likely not leave a bad review as it has real costs.
  3. $152 billion+ economic value can be better directed toward the highest of quality brands, products, and services.

This is one simple example of how the lightning network can solve fake accounts and reviews while reducing spam on the internet. More importantly, it rewards consumers for providing high-quality valuable feedback about established businesses funneling disposable income into the best organizations that bring true value to local communities.

PS. Brands like Stacker News are doing something like this for content creators and associating a cost to creating content while rewarding the top content creators.

These are the thoughts and views of Bobby Shell.