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EDriven Concepts: Posting Bogus Reviews to Manage Reputation and Counteract Mounting Negativity

As a business owner, reputation management is an integral part of maintaining a positive image for your company, especially when it comes to your Internet presence. Given the immense number of online business directories and consumer complaint forums, it’s fairly easy for anyone to post reviews of your business for public viewing. Unfortunately, this means that if any of your past customers has had a poor experience with your business, there’s a strong possibility that they’ll utilize the resources at their disposal to post a complaint online. One company in particular that is struggling with the issue of customer complaints is EDriven Concepts. Recently, however, it has made efforts to compensate for this negativity. If you’re a business owner looking for a way to counteract customer complaints online, take note of EDriven Concepts’ strategy and avoid it. Why EDriven Concepts Needs to Manage Its Reputation Lately, EDriven Concepts has seen a mounting pile of negative reviews all over the web. They have been accused of scamming business owners through deceptive sales calls and fraudulent information, and are now tasked with having to manage their reputation in order to keep these negative reviews from surfacing on Google’s search results pages. Some of those negative reviews can be found here:

The user reviews on Scambook, ComplaintWire, and Brownbook all detail the same scenario:

  1. A business owner receives a call from a representative of EDriven Concepts posing as whichever SEO company that business was currently working with.
  2. The sales rep from EDriven Concepts refers to a previous conversation with the business owner that never actually took place, thus confusing the business owner.
  3. The sales rep requests the business owner’s credit card information but never states his/her true identity.
  4. The sales rep hangs up when pushed by the business owner to reveal his/her identity.

In the Yelp review, a different individual also writes about an experience that she had with EDriven Concepts, wherein she was contacted by a sales rep who was pretending to be from her current advertising agency. They finally revealed their true identity when she asked for her specific account manager, but this was after they had already asked for her credit card information on three separate occasions. [If you’d like to listen to audio samples of similar phone calls between EDriven Concepts and existing Prospect Genius clients, check out our previous blog post.] As you can see, these kinds of reviews can be rather damning to a company’s reputation. That’s why it’s important to counteract any negativity surrounding your business with an effective reputation management strategy. This is not, however, what EDriven Concepts has done. How EDriven Concepts Is Attempting to Manage Its Reputation While you don’t have the power to permanently delete user comments and reviews on sites that are not your own, there are ways to neutralize them. A very simple way of doing this is to post an even greater number of positive reviews, so that the negative ones will be drowned out. EDriven Concepts has begun an attempt to push the negative reviews down the search engine rankings by writing and duplicating their own positive reviews. We’ve been following their attempts at reputation management for a few weeks, and their strategy has piqued our interest because their efforts illustrate a clear pattern:

  1. They write a fictional yet lengthy testimonial on behalf of a nonexistent company.
  2. They create fake accounts on various blog sites.
  3. Using these fake accounts, they post the same testimonial in multiple locations.

Below, you’ll see a sampling of different testimonials created by EDriven Concepts that are intended to quash negative reviews that are all over the Internet. While they have succeeded in diluting the volume of complaints against them with a handful of fictitious blog posts, the deceptive nature of these posts is wholly transparent to any casual reader. Sadly, this practice won’t get them far. We’ll continue to update this post as we find more examples. First group of false testimonials: “is edriven concepts a scam”

This set of blog posts by EDriven Concepts contains identical reviews from a company called “Apex Plumbing.” The posts detail the experience of “Leroy Gonzales,” an alleged plumber from Dallas, TX, and are given the title, “is edriven concepts a scam,” (that’s not a typo—no punctuation or capitalization are included in the original posts). Right off the bat, there are several elements that stand out as red flags:

  1. A comprehensive search of the White Pages and other Internet directories showed zero results for a Leroy Gonzales or Apex Plumbing in the Dallas area.
  2. The titular question, “Is EDriven Concepts a scam?” is never addressed nor answered.
  3. The team at EDriven Concepts is leveraging a common search term (“is edriven concepts a scam”) by using it as the post’s title with the sole purpose of directing curious readers to a fabricated story.
  4. The fact that the phrase, “is edriven concepts a scam,” is a popular search term tells you that they already have a reputation for scamming clients.

By the time you get to the third sentence of the review, you already know that the premise is completely false. Second group of false reviews: “As a small business owner I set out to do due diligence…”

The reviews in this group are all identical, with slightly revised titles, under the pretense of a “small business owner” seeking a “quality SEO company.” However, none of the review’s contents coincide with that alleged reality. There are several holes in this review’s logic—for example:

  1. It is 584 words long. Your first thought should be, “What kind of ‘small business owner’ has the time or motivation to write a nearly 600-word review for another company?”
  2. If it were a legitimate customer review, it would be a short paragraph on a popular consumer directory like Yelp, Brownbook, Manta, Hotfrog, etc. Instead, these are standalone blog accounts that are named after EDriven Concepts and contain only one lengthy post.
  3. The review is filled with detailed personal histories of EDriven Concepts personnel. Why would an ordinary client be privy to this kind of information?
  4. It’s fair to say that no average “small business owner” would be familiar with programs like PHP, JavaScript, HTML5, etc., much less identify a team with expertise in those fields.
  5. The company remains anonymous throughout the entire review. If the EDriven Concepts program worked so well, why isn’t there a link to the business’s website? Why isn’t there a name for referral? Why isn’t there any evidence of the program’s efficacy?

Given the combination of blatantly promotional language and zero specificity regarding the actual job performed for this anonymous client, the average reader can easily conclude that this is a fictional review written by EDriven Concepts themselves. Third group of false reviews: “Is Edriven Concepts Fraudulent? Let’s find out!”

These are more examples of fake user accounts containing a total of one blog post each. After reading the post in its entirety, you can discount its validity quite easily, as it:

  1. Describes the process of SEO but never offers an answer to the question in the title
  2. Offers no statistics, links, or evidence whatsoever to support the legitimacy of EDriven Concepts
  3. Is written by an “Ezra Finch” who has no profile information, credentials, or authority on the subject

Anyone who has done an hour’s worth of research online can write about what constitutes good SEO practices. However, the fact that this author writes only in vague terms and never offers a direct response to the question in the title reveals that this is yet another blog post designed to misdirect users searching for an actual answer to this question. Throughout all of these attempts at fabricating and duplicating reviews, EDriven Concepts only serves to exemplify the dishonesty that they are accused of. As a business owner, you can still learn from their mistakes. The only way to manage your company’s reputation effectively and honestly is to provide a valuable service and encourage satisfied customers to spread the word.