If you’ve checked your Facebook business page recently, you may have noticed that the Reviews section looks different. Instead of the standard 5-star rating, visitors are being asked to give a simple yes/no “recommendation”. (For now, the star rating is still visible but it’s unknown how long that will remain.)
Facebook says this move is to make it “easier for people to recommend your Page.” Perhaps they think it’s too difficult to give a star rating and people are only capable of making yes/no decisions?
How Facebook Recommendations Work
Depending on which option (“yes” or “no”) reviewers choose, they’re asked to then provide information about what they did or did not like.
Facebook requires reviewers to write at least 25 characters in order to post their review – no writing = no recommendation. It doesn’t need to be words, any characters will work, although those reviews can be reported and presumably would be removed promptly (see below).
This differs from the star rating system where people could leave a rating without any explanation.
For some industries, Facebook provides pre-populated tags (called ‘Rich Endorsements’) that reviewers can select to justify their recommendation – although those tags aren’t always completely relevant to the business. The tags will then appear at the bottom of the written recommendation.
Note: This feature isn’t yet available on lawn, landscape or tree care business pages but I expect that it will eventually be expanded to our industry.
More Opportunities For Recommendations
Whenever a person tags your business in a photo or post, Facebook will automatically ask that person if they want to publicly recommend your business. The intent behind that is to help you get more recommendations for your business.
It’s yet to be seen whether that happens, or if people feel that they’re being pushed into doing something they don’t want to do. The good news is that Facebook allows reviewers to decide whether their recommendation will be public, seen only by friends, or any of a number of other options. Presumably, the business can still see the recommendation even if it’s only shared with a person’s friends (I’m not 100% certain on that one yet).
The “Star” Rating is Still There
There’s still a rating at the top of the page, although it’s no longer a star. It also tells you that it is “based on the opinions of XXX people.” According to Facebook,
This rating is based on how many people recommend or don’t recommend the Page, as well as any past ratings and reviews it may have.You can influence the business’s rating by leaving a recommendation on its Page or recommending it to your friends on Facebook.
It’s unclear how the rating is influenced by recommendations.
The issue I find most troubling is how readers will be able to differentiate between companies based on recommendations. If Facebook only tells you that a certain number of people recommended the business, that doesn’t tell you how many people did not (i.e., gave it a “no” recommendation). A company whose 10 customers gave it 10 “yes” recommendations would be better than one where only 10 out of 100 customers gave a “yes” recommendation (i.e., the other 90 said “no”) – but both business pages would still say “Recommended by 10 people”.
Currently, there’s no obvious way to distinguish between them without looking through all of the recommendations. Ones with a white star in a little red box beside the reviewer’s name are positive recommendations, grey ones are negative. Keep scrolling until you get a good feel for whether there are more positive or negative reviews. Then start reading…
And Facebook thinks that’s “easier” than seeing a star rating??
Discrepancies in the Number of Recommendations
One thing I’ve noticed is that while Facebook tells you how many people have recommended the business (i.e., “Recommended by XX people”), the “rating” says that it’s “Based on the opinion of XX people” – and those two numbers often don’t match.
For example, I was looking at the page of a Florida-based tree service company with a 4.9 rating. The rating is “Based on the opinion of 39 people” but is only “Recommended by 15 people”. When you look at the recommendations, there are 33 shown, all of which are either 5-stars or “Recommended”. So how can only 15 people recommend it? And what happened to the other 6 people who have an “opinion” that’s contributing to the 4.9 rating?
Facebook has yet to address any of those issues. I’ll keep you posted if we can any answers.
Reporting Fake or Spam Reviews
All businesses will eventually receive a review/rating/recommendation that’s either fake, complete spam, or inappropriate. You’ve always been able to report those kinds of reviews, although that hasn’t always meant that the review was taken down.
Now, Facebook is telling us that “authenticity” is a priority. Both users and Facebook page owners will be able to easily report recommendations for the following reasons:
- Recommendation not relevant
- Unfair recommendation
- Suicide or Self-injury
- Hate Speech
It’s not clear how Facebook will determine whether or not a recommendation is “relevant” or “unfair,” but I hope the process will become more transparent and easier to use than the current system (if you’ve ever tried to get a fake or spam review removed, you know just how frustrating it has been).
Open Questions About the New Facebook Recommendations
The new “review” system has only just been rolled out so there are still a lot of questions. For example –
- What will happen to the existing ratings given using the 5-star system? Facebook says they “will still appear on your Page as recommendations” but it’s not clear how they’ll decide whether a rating is a “yes” or a “no” recommendation (e.g., anything 3 and above is a “yes”?) and if the numeric rating will then be removed.
- If you currently have a 5-star overall rating, how will that be affected by the new, simplified recommendations?
- Will there be some way to easily determine how many “yes” recommendations there are versus “no”? I would certainly want to know whether a company has 90% “yes” or only 30%. Right now, it only shows that a business is “Recommended by xxx people.”
- How does Facebook determine which recommendations are “Most Helpful”? Is this another case of a Facebook algorithm determining what you do or do not see?
- Facebook business pages currently show up in the Google search results with the star rating below the name (due to rich snippets). Will that go away? If so, what impact will it have on clicks to Facebook business pages? (my assumption is that it will decrease CTR)
At this point, it’s too early to say how the move from Facebook reviews to recommendations will affect companies in the green industry. Let me know how things are going for you and I’ll keep updating this post as things progress.
And if you want to see it in action, plus get more details, just click below to see my YouTube video!