Does Amazon have a review panel?
Yes it does, its name is ‘Amazon Vine’ and whilst I am not yet a member of it, I have been writing product reviews on their site for the last few years and have now reached a ranking below 10.000. This might not sound very impressive, but most users start off with a ranking in the millions.
How do I join Amazon Vine?
Membership is by invitation only. The only way to get into Amazon Vine is to write quality reviews, climb the rankings and wait for an invitation. To climb these rankings, the aim is to receive as many helpful votes as possible. The key to getting these ’helpful’ votes is to write clear, detailed reviews that assist the consumer in making an informed choice as to whether the product is suitable for their needs or not.
So, the idea is to write a review that describes the product based on your experience with it. For example, if you have bought a photograph album and after slotting in a few photos the pages start falling out, explain that clearly in your review, rather than just writing ‘rubbish product’. This might seem obvious but, time and time again, I see reviews that state ‘worked for me’ or ‘arrived late’. Whilst this information might be true, it is not helpful for a potential customer making a purchasing decision.
Another tip is to include photographs in your review. Often the colours in the stock photographs can be a bit off. Sometimes, the seller has been a bit sneaky and made the product look better than it actually is. Therefore, it can be very helpful to post a picture of what the product really looks like.
Anything else that I need to know?
You may have heard that there are companies that offer free or heavily discounted products in return for reviews. However, these are best avoided as Amazon really doesn’t like this practice. If you are caught, they will wipe all of your reviews and you will need to start all over again. The problem with these companies is that they expect a 5 star review which states that their products are wonderful, which is not always a genuine description! They also resort to some underhand tactics and ask reviewers to buy the products on Amazon and then refund via PayPal so that the review appears on the site as a ‘verified purchase’.
Similarly, there was an infamous incident a few years ago where Amazon clamped down on ‘author circles’. These (mostly) self-published authors were writing overly gushing reviews on each other’s books as well as marking each other’s reviews as ‘helpful’ in order to increase their rankings on the site, and therefore, their sales. One day these ‘authors’ woke up to find all their reviews deleted.
Any product in the Amazon catalogue can be reviewed – even if you have not purchased it from their website. It is, however, known that reviewing Amazon ‘verified purchases’ carries much more weight in terms of reaching a higher ranking.
Why not give it a try when you have a spare moment? Also, if you are interested in writing reviews in exchange for free products – check out my overview of a few different product testing companies here.