If you thought Yelp reviews were questionable, welcome to the next frontier: Facebook business reviews.
Similar to how Facebook users can rate movies they’ve watched or books they’ve read, the social-networking site is now allowing some users to rate businesses on the same five-star scale, according to TechCrunch. The star ratings appear next to the business name at the top of its Facebook Page.
Currently, the business ratings are only available to a small subset of users logging on to Facebook from desktop computers. The reviews also appear when these users do a local business search on Facebook, such as looking for restaurants nearby—a feature that Facebook introduced on mobile devices last year.
Facebook has been collecting star-rating information on local businesses quietly for quite some time, TechCrunch reports. The big change is that now the star ratings are featured prominently at the top of business pages.
“Star ratings encourage more people to rate a business, making it eligible to appear in News Feed and help others discover a business they didn’t know about previously,” a Facebook spokesman told TechCrunch. “For businesses themselves, this also leads to greater brand awareness.”
The business rating system—assuming it’s eventually rolled out broadly—could have large implications for business owners. For one, consumers would be able to very quickly get a sense of how well a business is viewed by other consumers by going to its Facebook page. But it could also lead to a lot of controversy over questions of fairness and accuracy.
Already, sites like Yelp and Google Reviews have come under fire by business owners for how they filter reviews, and some business owners claim that their best reviews get filtered out while the most negative reviews are featured at the top of their profile.
It remains to be seen whether Facebook will use some sort of filtering system or trying to determine whether its business ratings are being used legitimately.
Another question: Will featuring your business's rating at the top of your Facebook page be mandatory or optional? TechCrunch says that’s still unclear. However, if Facebook is trying to compete with the Yelps, Foursquares and Angie’s Lists of the world, it will probably make them the default. That will force small businesses to think differently about how they use Facebook as a marketing tool and focus more on using Facebook as a customer service tool rather than just keeping a presence on the site. Moving from "Likes" to star ratings is a big deal, because people choose to "Like" businesses for different reasons. Ascribing a one-to-five-star rating means consumers will get a much clearer sense of how a business is viewed.
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