Sophomore Tess Wilmoth was scrolling through her Instagram feed when she saw a post of a mascara she was interested in buying, but reading the comments changed her opinion.
“The packaging said you would get long and thick eyelashes, and it was supposed to make them natural looking,” Wilmoth said. “But the comments said it was clumpy and too thick and it wouldn’t come off your lashes, so I didn’t want to buy it anymore.”
False claims can be seen in all forms of marketing, such as television commercials, billboards and the packaging of the product, to lure prospective consumers into buying products, according to Dhruv Singh, Chief Operating Officer for Pay Mate, a mobile commerce company.
“It could be getting people who are actors that claim to be customers make false representations or misleading statements,” Singh said. “Or the company could have a lab that they actually paid to get an endorsement from without that lab ever conducting tests or giving a certain approval for the product.”
With the influence of social media on the rise, advertisers may have to rethink the claims they make.
“These days with social media, you do something dumb, it can get everywhere all over the place,” Mark Weiner, Professor of Practice at the Leavey School of Business of Santa Clara University, said. “The ability to flat out lie has shrunk because it can sting you so badly given social media.”
When a company makes a false claim about a product and a customer writes a bad review on social media, it can spread easily and influence the likeliness of prospective customers buying the product, according to Weiner.
“Everyone can get in touch like they never could,” Weiner said. “How fast can you get 15 million hits? It would make me think twice as the advertiser.”
Social media does not always have a negative effect on customers’ opinions regarding products.
Kylie Jenner’s lip kits have started a craze over social media because of the good reviews, especially in comments on her Instagram account, according to Wilmoth.
Celebrities like Jenner have millions of followers viewing their posts.
“It’s coming from a really big celebrity whom a lot of people follow, and so when I see comments about how good it is from a lot of people, it makes me want to buy it,” Wilmoth said.
Social media can also be a positive influence on prospective customers if someone with a major following gives a good review, according to Wilmoth.
“Sometimes I watch YouTube videos where girls talk about their favorite products,” Wilmoth said. “If I see they have the same skin tone or hair color as me, I may buy the products they talk about because they will probably work for me.”