Trusting reviews on Amazon has been a tricky thing since the early days of online shopping.
When it comes down to two similar items in our cart most of us will turn to what other Amazon shoppers think of the products. But we are all aware that reviews are not always trustworthy.
Some reviews are fakes and others are paid-for. Even reviews from "verified purchasers" are sometimes from people who are paid to not only buy the product from Amazon but leave a positive review.
In an attempt to offer more helpful reviews from trusted reviewers, Amazon launched "Vine Voices" several years ago. It is a program where customers receive products for free in exchange for well-written and helpful reviews.
Some Vine Voice reviewers have written about thousands of products they've received from Amazon. Those reviews are clearly labeled as "vine customers review of free product". Amazon is very upfront about which reviews are from Vine Voice customers.
You cannot apply to be part of the program, in its description, Amazon states reviewers are chosen based on reviews they've written in the past and how many of those reviews have been rated as 'helpful' by other customers. Vine Voice reviewers are not required to leave positive reviews, to the contrary, Amazon wants honest reviews that will be helpful to other customers.
One Vine Voice reviewer I spoke to (who asked that I not identify them) said they've received hundreds of products in the mail and that they are all in a category they're most familiar with.
Other Vine Voice customers receive products in specific categories such as appliances, electronics, toys, and clothes. The products are theirs to keep in exchange for the written review.
I found one Vine Voice reviewer who had written reviews of over 2,000 products and most of them were labeled as free for review.
So how do you get in on the program? You cannot apply. Amazon invites customers into the program and there is no place on Amazon's website where one could inquire about being invited. The best advice is to begin writing helpful reviews of every product you purchase from Amazon. While this does not, in any way, ensure you'll receive an invitation, it is one step toward getting noticed.
For more information about Amazon Vine, visit amazon.com/gp/vine/help.