Facebook Switches from Reviews and Ratings to Recommendations

Facebook Recommendations have replaced ratings and reviews

Facebook reviews are looking very different these days. The social media giant has moved away from a five-star rating system in favor of a simpler recommendation system. Users now answer “yes” or “no” to the question “Do you recommend (this place)?” On the latest reviews, you will see a status of recommendation instead of the rating for the latest reviews.

Why Did Facebook Switch to Recommendations?

Facebook is not the first company to make this move. Last year, Netflix replaced its star rating system with a thumbs up, thumbs down system. They had noticed that the star ratings seemed inconsistent with the user’s actual viewing habits; viewers would give movies or shows a star rating based on its perceived overall quality instead of what they actually watched.

Facebook’s transition to recommendations in place of the star rating signals that they have taken note of Netflix’ move. Facebook has always aimed to create highly personalized experiences for their users, and the binary Yes/No Recommendation system may do a better job of training their algorithm to suggest what users will like.

200% Higher Engagement

Facebook can also count on seeing more engagement from their users. Netflix saw a 200% increase in user engagement after their switch to thumbs up, thumbs down. One of the main reasons for this increase is that the binary rating is easier to do. Whether or not you had a somewhat mixed experience with a business, all you have to do is react with your gut to say if you’d recommend it or not, instead of having to think of a rating out of five.

More Accurate Rating

This simpler system also leads to a wider spectrum of users leaving reviews. Five-star rating systems tend to only see engagement from people who had an outstanding experience or a horrible experience, without much engagement from those in the middle. In other words, you get a disproportionate number of 1 and 5 star ratings.  By simplifying to Yes/No Recommendations, Facebook is aiming to give its users a more accurate view of a business.

Will Other Review Sites Move Away from 5 Star Ratings?

It’s unclear if this is how the review industry will trend.  The combo of five-star rating system and detailed reviews is generally regarded as the best way to help consumers make complex decisions.  And perhaps the Yes/No Recommendation system is only a fit for Facebook and Google because they have high user engagement and can make smart suggestions based on user behavior, which is not something most other sites can do.  But Facebook and Netflix, which test more aggressively than many of the most innovative companies in the world, may have found an insight that gets them farther ahead of the competition.

How to Ask for Reviews at the Point-of-Sale

Too many business owners share a common experience when it comes to their online reviews: they have a great offline reputation but poor online ratings. 90% of consumers look at online reviews before making a purchasing decision, so negative reviews are very likely to steer people away, especially if the negative reviews happened more recently than any positive ones. This often leaves business owners wondering how they can get more positive reviews, and their conclusion is to simply ask for reviews from customers.

You may find this idea awkward and uncomfortable. Maybe you worry about coming across rude or desperate. But remember, if you do in fact have satisfied customers, you can just as easily turn them into promoters of your business by asking the right way.

The Best Way to Get Customers to Leave Reviews

Ask in-person, at the point of sale.

This type of request comes off personal and relational, compared to sending out an email or making a request through a review website. It works especially well if you have had a good amount of time to interact with them and build rapport over the sales process. This allows you to keep the interaction conversational and transition naturally to requesting a review. You are also catching your customers at the point where they are the most excited about their purchase and their experience is still fresh on the mind. Plus, it would be highly unlikely for a satisfied customer to say “no” right to your face.

Asking for Reviews by Email/SMS

Other than asking for a review in-person, there are digital methods to be aware of. Some automated review platforms allow you to send emails or texts to contact information entered by a customer. These messages can be sent immediately after the sale happens if you sync your kiosk to your automated review application.

Some applications allow you to interact in real time with customers once they’ve posted a review. This function can be valuable since it allows you to address any complaints that may come up and possibly change the customer’s mind.

Although asking by email and text can lack the personal touch and higher conversion rate of asking in-person, the automated review platform Broadly reports some businesses seeing 20% or more increases in revenue and even one company growing sales by 180%.

Using A Kiosk to Get Feedback (And Then Get Reviews)

Some automated platforms like ServiceGuru provide a kiosk to help businesses gather feedback right at the point of sale.  You can get feedback on-site, save it to the application, and send a message or email containing the feedback content to the customer’s own device for them to publish on their preferred review website. It’s important that the customer is not actually logging onto a review website using the kiosk because many review websites can tell if multiple reviews are coming from the same IP address and will stop accepting reviews due to the possibility of fraud. Plus, logging into a new device in public can raise security issues.

Which Review Sites Permit Review Solicitation

What are the rules when it comes to asking for reviews? The answer varies depending on the review website. Yelp is hands down the least forgiving when it comes to asking for reviews. Their policy clearly prohibits asking customers to leave reviews at all, even if they are negative.

Google, now the largest review website in terms of number of reviews, has a more relaxed policy. They are okay with business owners asking customers to leave reviews as long as they aren’t only asking happy customers, and if mass requests aren’t made.

If you are using an automated platform, be sure each review request is being sent individually. You will also need to format the settings to direct customers to websites that allow requesting reviews.

As a business owner, you ought to have an online reputation that reflects your success. If done correctly, asking for reviews will pay off in the long run.

3 Overlooked Features on Google My Business

The Google My Business platform is a valuable, free marketing tool that any local business or chain store can use to improve its presence on Google Maps. The very basic functions of this platform allow people to find the location of your business and read/write reviews . However, many businesses fail to take advantage of some of the most beneficial features on Google My Business and do not unlock its full potential. Let’s fix that!

1) Reviewers Get Notifications When You Respond

In the event that your business receives a negative review, the best move is always to respond in a way that is professional and timely, while addressing the customer’s complaint. Doing this gives you a chance to win back your customer while projecting a good image to the public.

The Google My Business feature now sends an email notification to reviewers once the business has responded, increasing your chances of having your response being seen and your customer’s mind being changed. Here’s a screenshot of what that looks as discussed on Google’s Community Forum:

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When you post a response, the notification from Google will reach the customer’s inbox after five minutes. During this 5 minutes window, you can make any changes to your response in case you notice any mistakes or simply want to alter your response.

2) Google Questions and Answers

If left unnoticed, Google Questions and Answers can hurt a business, but it can be used in your favor if managed properly. Google Questions and Answers is a relatively new function that allows users to post their questions about the business on a public forum and for others to provide answers.

Many business owners are unaware of this feature or simply don’t bother to respond. The danger with that is potential misinformation being posted if a user answers a question inaccurately (which happens surprisingly often). This can cause a customer to be deterred from your business or to approach it with false expectations. In any case, whether misinformation is being told about your business or not, not responding on this function is a missed opportunity to engage with potential customers and draw in business.

Another tricky aspect of this feature is the fact that Google does not send businesses notifications on new questions. Fortunately, Reputology’s system can send you alerts any time a new question is posted. If you are able to answer questions politely and quickly, ideally before misinformation is posted, you can expect to see those people turn into customers.

3) Google My Business Descriptions

This feature is seeing its resurgence by Google and should appear on your Google My Business dashboard soon if it hasn’t already. As a business owner, this is your chance to use up to 750 characters to make a statement that will draw in customers. This function is different from a meta description; it will appear right below the reviews section on your business listing and can be more detailed and creative.

This description is a golden opportunity to really sell your business to a potential customer when they may not have actually clicked to view your website before. If writing isn’t your strong suit, and if you don’t have any internal writers within your company, you may want to consider hiring a copywriter to write your description for you. You want to make sure the description concisely and accurately advertises key selling points to readers, while being compelling and engaging. By posting a description with keywords geared towards your market, you will also give your SEO a boost, allowing potential customers to find you before your competitors.

Any opportunity for free marketing ought to be used to its full potential. By taking full advantage of the features on Google My Business’ platform, you can build your company’s reputation, win customers, and watch your success story unfold.