Facebook Is Switching Review Ratings to Recommendations

Facebook Is Switching Review Ratings to Recommendations
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TL;DR
  • Facebook will no longer be collecting review ratings, and instead will request recommendations from users.
  • Recommendations are a binary 'Yes/No' choice so reputation managers will need to look into the text of the feedback more to get the true story.
  • 'Rich endorsements' will allow Facebook users to upload images of their business experience to accompany recommendations.
  • New recommendation reporting functionality should make fake reviews easier to flag for moderation than on other platforms.

Although earlier this year Facebook was testing a new 10-point review scale rather than the traditional five, the platform seems to have now turned on its heels and gone further in the other direction instead.

Currently rolling out to local business pages on Facebook is a Yes/No ‘Recommendations’ system, which is suspected to be completely replacing the current star-rating system. Although the average rating out of 5 shown on the page will remain, it will only take into consideration past reviews and new recommendations.

Facebook ratings are now recommendations

At present, Facebook haven’t opened the recommendations functionality up to API, so once reviews are officially turned off, reputation management software providers across the world will be scrambling to make up for the lost data.

Facebook Rich Endorsements

This isn’t the only update coming to local business reviews. As part of the recommendations process, users can leave ‘Rich Endorsements’, which include photos and text. This function, currently exclusive to restaurants and coffee shops but expected to roll out to other industries, makes the recommendation-leaving process easier by suggesting attributes (or ‘tags’) for the user to select, in a move that’s remarkably similar to Google My Business’ subjective and objective attributes.

Rich endorsements

These updates will significantly reshape the way local businesses go about requesting and treating Facebook reviews. One positive is that the process of requesting a recommendation is simpler: asking customers to ‘leave a recommendation’ is quicker for the business and the user.

However, with the absence of gray area, Facebook recommendations run the risk of only collecting feedback from people with more severe opinions. In the past, even people on the fence about a business could leave a 2-3 star review, but in the brave new world of recommendations, those without strong opinions may refrain from leaving any feedback. The upshot of this is that local business pages could start receiving a lower rate of reviews (but this could also be tempered by rising rates due to the easier process).

With the range of quantitative responses reduced from five to two, those monitoring and acting on Facebook reviews and recommendations will need to pay more attention to the content of the recommendation, as that’s where you’ll fill the customer experience knowledge gaps left by the removal of neutral star ratings. Expect way more recommendations in the vein of ‘I would recommend this place but…’.

Take note that none of this means that only recommendations will be shown on the page. Users are able to leave a message answering the question ‘How could [Business Name] improve?’ and these will be published to the page if the user chooses to do so (rather than sending private feedback, which is still an option, though a convoluted one involving adjust recommendation privacy).

Making Facebook Recommendations ‘Authentic’

In stark contrast to the difficult, clunky and dramatically underused process needed to report fake Google reviews, Facebook has announced that, in order to keep recommendations ‘authentic’, users and Facebook page owners will be able to report recommendations for:

  • Recommendation not relevant
  • Unfair recommendation
  • Nudity
  • Violence
  • Harassment
  • Suicide or Self-injury
  • Spam
  • Drugs
  • Hate Speech

Authentic Recommendations

Now, I know what you’re thinking – there’s nothing specific for fake reviews left by review networks, bitter ex-employees and even more bitter rivals, but I think we can take a wide view of ‘unfair’, ‘not relevant’ and ‘harassment’ and use the closest that matches our fake review.

It’s going to be really interesting to see how these updates the Facebook reviews and recommendations impact overall average star ratings across platforms. Will reputation management tools take a Facebook recommendation as the equivalent of a five-star rating, leading to inflated average star ratings, or will they try to separate these types of customer feedback from the rest of the five-star pool?

We’d love to hear what you think

Is this going to mark the start of a trend across review platforms? Do ‘Yes/No’ reviews help or hinder the reputation management process? Do you recommend Facebook’s new Recommendations system? (Yes/No)

Let us know your experiences with Facebook reviews and recommendations in the comments below.

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18 thoughts on “Facebook Is Switching Review Ratings to Recommendations”

  1. Does this mean that if a person shares an honest bad review, they can be flagged as having written a harassing or unfair review? Who makes that determination? If a business was incompetent which resulted in someone being harmed, and that someone leaves a review stating the truth about it, does the recommendation get taken down for being “unfair” because someone who doesn’t know the whole story decides it shouldn’t be there?

    1. Hi Jim,

      These are reviewed against Facebook’s guidelines, and will be up to them to decide what’s unfair. The more proof you can provide to Facebook on why a review is unfair, the better.

      Thanks for commenting!
      Rosie

  2. I can only see reviews on the business page of the company I work for. Laptop, desktop, phone…..all the same. My wife is able to see recommendations on her phone and same computers we share under her fb account. The customers leaving recommendations are not visible under reviews. Any thoughts of how I can get to view customers recommendations?

    1. Hi Steven,

      Has your business been shared as a recommendation yet? These won’t show up until they have been recommended. You can find this in the Insights tab of your Business Page – it might be worth changing the timeframe to see if this helps.

      Alternatively, you might want to head into the Templates and Tabs section and double check that reviews are switched on.

      Hope that’s useful!
      Rosie

  3. So where are theses recommendations? I keep having them left on my page but I cant see them on my page! I still only have the few reviews I had.as most of mine have come through as recommendations, which is great accept nobody can see them. so I look like I haven’t had a review in a month, which isn’t so good. so my question is, are the reviews ever going to be displayed? I have gone in to the settings but theres not a recommendations tab on my desktop.

    1. Hi Wayne, that seems odd, as the Recommendations should definitely be displayed on your page.

      In your Reviews tab, make sure you’re clicking ‘Most Recent’ as the recommendations should be displaying here. The ratings score is now based on recommendations and reviews. It’s possible that Facebook allows people to leave non-public recommendations, which would explain why they’re not being displayed, but I’m afraid I’m not 100% sure about this.

      Hope that’s of some help!

      Jamie

    1. Hi Julian, Facebook will be taking recommendations into consideration when choosing what rating to display but as yet it’s not known how. I think it’s likely that this social proof point will be removed once Facebook has been new review-free for a while.

      Thanks

      Jamie

  4. Thanks for the write up. Great to get this info earlier rather than later!

    Any idea on how to set this up for a page? I know there was an earlier Facebook “Recommendation” tab, but this sounds like it is not just a simple enhancement of that old feature, and attempting to set up that tab isn’t the answer (not that I can find it anyway.)

    Perhaps we’ll need to just wait to see if/when it rolls out to our pages.

    John

    1. Hi John,

      At the moment, page owners don’t really have any power over this; it’s simply a matter of when the rollout hits your page.

      Thanks

      Jamie

  5. Very interesting. I think most have already asked some of my same questions and concerns (thx Jamie for your quick replies btw). @Sherry yes! Please make Yelp go away. I don’t personally believe these “recommendations” will be valuable to consumers… I personally (when searching out a restaurant or local business) look through at least 5 to 7 reviews… I unconsciously (now that I think about it) look through a mixture of 1 to 5 stars reviews… I actually search them out. This helps me understand if this was just a “complicated customer” or a “valid” assessment of the local business or place… we’ll see!

  6. Thank you for this! I have a couple questions –

    Will the past reviews still be on the page? Or completely removed with the recommendations?

    Is the search field going to align with recommendations more? Will Facebook now start creating notifications for people who were looking for coffee shops previous, saying things like “98 people recommend coffee shop x near you”

    I have so many questions – I work for a dealergroup and consult for other dealer groups – trying to get a handle how we should present this to our staff, and should we be brand focused or experience focused now.

    Any feedback would be amazing!

    1. Hi Marjie,

      Happy to help if I can! I know that past reviews will indeed still be visible on the page and, for now, at least, the review score will still be used. But they may well change to number of recommendations. Not sure about the search field, though, I’m afraid!

      What this is really doing is putting that quantity of reviews/recommendations in the driving seat, rather than the actual content of the review/recommendation. Because you’ll see number of recommendations so prominently (and perhaps, as you say, in the search field), the thing that’s really being pushed forward is popularity over quality of service.

      Previously you could get five five-star reviews and be sitting pretty with an avg star rating of 5. In the world of recommendations, meanwhile, getting just 5 recommendations, while not inherently a bad thing, will put your business way behind competitors with 50+ recommendations. Previously, both businesses could have fought on a even field as long as their star ratings were high.

      Putting prominence on popularity over experience is a clever way for Facebook to drive businesses to get more recommendations, and more activity on Facebook means better stats to show investors!

      Jamie

  7. Very curious to see how this unfolds. I agree that it leaves a real gap being only binary… it will be interesting to see if FB end up flipping on this decision to move away from the commonly-accepted 5 Star Rating scenario. Time will tell!

    1. Hi Glen, yes it puts a lot more pressure on reputation managers to draw conclusions from the content of the recommendation, as the Yes/No isn’t particularly valuable.

      Yes, let’s see if this has ramifications for the rest of the online reviews industry!

      Jamie

  8. Thank you for this article! There isn’t much online about the changes and you gave a lot of information. My company has one main page and 15 location pages. I’m eager to see how all these changes work. I feel like I have a million questions, but I’m guessing with time I will figure out all the answers.

    1. Hi Becca,

      Thanks for the feedback! So glad this post was helpful. Yes, there isn’t a great deal out there about it considering what a significant change it is. It will be interesting to see how this pans out, and if other platforms follow suit.

      Thanks

      Jamie

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