As anyone who uses the popular social media platform knows, Facebook is always changing. Whether the app is finding new and creative ways to advertise, new ways to automatically play videos, or new ways to get businesses to shell out advertising money, they’re always innovating.
As cynical as we may be about Facebook, they occasionally do something good for businesses and marketers, too.
This is one of those times.
Facebook recently updated its review platform, and here’s what you need to know:
- If a customer uses the check-in feature when they visit a business’ physical location Facebook takes note
- Within 24 hours Facebook sends the user a notification, right to their newsfeed, asking them to share their thoughts on the business
- The customer chooses whether to write feedback or not, but Facebook’s notification keeps it fresh in their mind
- This may sometimes eliminate friction in earning customer reviews, giving you a potentially valuable marketing tool
- No, it won’t kill Yelp
So, you probably already understands the basics, but let me give you an example.
Say you own a shop that sells archery gear for bow hunters. You have a verified Facebook profile, complete with the correct address and contact information.
An enthusiastic hunter visits your shop, checks in on Facebook to show his friends he’s purchasing some new equipment, buys some gear, and leaves.
Within 24 hours, he’ll see a notification on his Facebook dashboard/newsfeed that prompts him to leave a review. Then, he decides whether to leave a review or not.
Search Engine Journal published an in-depth piece on this update, and I wanted to share three pieces of it with you.
Here’s what author Leonard Kim has to say:
“24 hours after checking into a location, Facebook is feeding you with a new notification. A notification asking you to review and share your experience about the place you visited. I checked in two places on Friday and by Saturday, I had two notifications for reviews. One was for the University of Southern California. The other was for Break Room 86. These are two local businesses in completely different fields around me…
… By having a notification appear directly in your feed, no matter how busy you are, if you have something to say about the business, you have your chance. This pushes the review process directly in front of the consumer, whether they were thinking about their experience or not. That means that if you had a good experience that didn’t wow you, you will share it. If you had a moderate experience that wasn’t pleasant nor bad, you will share what you went through. And Facebook keeps it simple because you don’t even need to write out a review. If you’re not ready to write out your whole life story, all you have to do is click a few stars and move on…
… As Facebook pushes this feature and the accuracy of each review goes up, Google will start to index Facebook pages as one of the primary sources for reviews. That means the Facebook page for your business will go up higher in Google searches.”
He tested it and received notifications for both a university and a karaoke bar. He argues that the notification will prompt many users to leave a review, even if they just had an average experience. As he writes, Facebook also gave him the option to just leave a simple star rating without typing out a review.
Facebook has always offered users the ability to award star ratings to businesses, without requiring that they write out a review. This is good for the casual user. And, because Facebook attaches real names (instead of usernames or pseudonyms) to its reviews, those simple star ratings still come off as authentic.
Clearly, this update is a good thing for marketers and business owners. But it’s not a magic bullet, simply because there are a few big hurdles in the way.
So, what are those hurdles?
Well, I’ll use myself as an example. I run a software company, so I consider myself a tech-savvy person. But I’m not a big social media user.
Plenty of people my age and older love technology, and are aware of social media and online reviews, but just don’t love Facebook. They may not even use it at all. If that’s the case, this update won’t help you.
But let’s take it further.
There are people who use Facebook who have never once used the app to check into a business. They either don’t want people knowing where they are, don’t care enough to let everyone know what they’re doing at all times, or simply don’t want to leave a data trail behind for no reason.
Depending on your business, this may not matter. If you work around food or retail, you may have more check ins than an automotive repair shop or any sort of medical office.
If your customers are the type that love to share where they are and what they’re doing, this update is great for you.
But if you cater to older clientele, or even to tech-savvy people like myself who don’t find it thrilling to announce their latest meal to the world, this update may not help you much.
You’ll have to test the waters with a few customers, and see how your average customer feels about Facebook.
Asking for Check-Ins
That brings me to my next point– talking to your customers about their Facebook usage, and asking for check-ins.
As we all know, asking for reviews isn’t always easy. That’s why RevenueJump is here.
But, you may be able to successfully ask for Facebook check-ins. If a customer checks in, the app should remind them to leave a review. You will, of course, encounter people who don’t use Facebook, or who don’t want to broadcast their location to everyone they know. And that’s fine.
Here’s how the conversation might go:
- Ask, “Do you use Facebook?”
- If they reply with an affirmative, ask, “Would you mind checking in here? If you do, the app will send you a reminder to leave a review, which would really help us out.”
- If they’re not willing to check in, ask them if they’d be willing to leave a review on Google Yelp, or another platform.
In my eyes, anything that makes earning a review just a bit easier is great for businesses. This Facebook review update doesn’t magically fix all of our problems, and I expect you’ll encounter many customers who just don’t use Facebook. But, at the same time, this update could remove a significant amount of friction from the review process, at least for certain business types.
But it’s not going to change the world, and it’s certainly not going to kill Yelp.
Yelp Lives On
I’ve owned and operated several businesses, and Yelp hasn’t always been my friend. In fact, I dislike Yelp in most cases.
Yelp, and the problems it can bring to business owners’ doorsteps, is one of the main reasons I founded RevenueJump. Yelp can be difficult to work with or around, and it’s usually very visible in the search engine results for any given business.
So, naturally, some business owners pray for an end to Yelp. While this Facebook update may prove useful, it won’t put any nails in Yelp’s coffin.
Business owners, especially in the foodservice industry, have been predicting Yelp’s demise for years, especially when Facebook updates its review platform.
This comes from a piece on Eater last year, published right after Facebook updated its search algorithm to include reviews:
“At first glance, Facebook’s net seems almost as widely cast as Yelp’s. A test search of New York businesses turned up the likes of yoga studios, pet stores, chiropractors, art museums, and, natch, bars and restaurants. From a company with over a billion active users that has practically usurped the role of the traditional business website, this isn’t entirely surprising.
Facebook was ostensibly a de facto, lurking competitor of Yelp before. The difference here is the pooling of best-rated restaurants, plumbers, massage therapists — you name it — on an unambiguous, standalone platform that already commands the attention span of millions of users every day. Note that this is a consequential departure from Facebook’s previously tentative forays into Yelp territory. That’s what analysts are buzzing about, and that’s what might be giving Yelp co-founder and CEO Jeremy Stoppelman pause.”
This piece from KruseControl also makes some good points about how Yelp buries reviews from less-prolific users, and about how Facebook might encourage users to share more ‘average’ experiences that don’t fall into either the five star or one star categories. But it also predicts an end to Yelp, which I don’t see coming any time soon.
Facebook is much more widely used than Yelp, but it’s known as a social media platform. Yelp is known as a review platform.
Many people don’t use Facebook and, as I noted in the previous section, many people don’t use the check in feature or even let Facebook access their physical location.
I could see, in the far future, Facebook overtaking Yelp in reviews, but it’s not likely to happen within the next few years. Facebook is social, and it offers plenty of distractions apart from reviews. Yelp is all about reviews.
Facebook will remain social, and Yelp will remain a solid choice for people looking for a no-nonsense, no-distractions information source when they need a veterinarian, car dealership, or bow hunting shop.
People absolutely use Facebook reviews, and they will continue to both read and write reviews on the platform. They’re valuable for any business or consumer.
But we can’t count on Facebook to kill Yelp just yet. Instead, we have to pay attention to every review platform that pertains to our businesses, and continue to earn positive reviews and address negative reviews.
We also have to use new features, like this Facebook update, to our advantage.
When it comes to online reviews, it would be a shame to look any gift horse in the mouth.
Thanks for reading!