Facebook pulls review functionality from pages – next steps for SMBs

Last week admins for Facebook pages that were utilizing the Reviews application were warned that this functionality (along with discussions) would cease to exist from the 31st October, with Facebook taking the official line that:

“We’ve found the best way to encourage conversation and feedback is through posts and comments on your Wall, so we’re removing the Reviews and Discussions tabs for now.  We’re working hard to help you moderate, filter and manage content in one powerful place.  Stay tuned.

You won’t be able to access your reviews and discussions once they’re removed, so please save this content if you’d like to keep it for future reference.

On place pages with a location, fans can still write a recommendation for their friends or others from the right-column that says Recommendations”

Whether or not this is the ‘best way to encourage conversation’ remains a moot point, especially considering the time and effort some SMBs have dedicated to nurturing and encouraging online reviews of their businesses.  Small businesses are increasingly aware of the importance of online reviews both as a ranking factor in local search, and for providing credibility for the business at an important juncture in the consumer purchase cycle.  Like it or not, recent studies found that four out of five consumers decided against purchasing a product based on negative feedback in an online review.

The news appears to have been poorly received by many SMB’s who use Facebook pages to promote their businesses.  Take, for example, Brian Slawson, who owns a small US based photography business:

Brian has over 19 effusive and glowing reviews on his facebook page.  As a small business owner, would you really want to lose this type of testimonial?

Although Facebook do allude to some new functionality that will allow some level of filtering on Page walls (otherwise, how will reviews stay prominent and / or be viewable?) they do make it clear that they will not be utilising any of the existing reviews.  Basically their line is ‘do something with them – or lose these wonderful words from your clients’.

What businesses can do next…

  • Repurpose the review and include as a testimonial on your own website.  Testimonials are a time honoured way of engaging a customer in the activities of the business and repurposing this content on the business website will add credibility, as well as providing customer recognition.
  • Encourage the reviewer to post the review on an alternative third party review website.

For the above, make contact via Facebook, or use your CRM software to locate the email address of the client.  If they’ve already written you an awesome review on Facebook it’s likely they’re one of your biggest brand evangelising assets, they really shouldn’t mind you getting in touch.  Encourage reviews on whatever review website works within your vertical or niche.

If you offer a product or service that will benefit from increased visibility in local search, encourage them to write their review on your Places page.  Given the importance of reviews as a ranking factor, and Google’s changing practices for including third party reviews in their local search results this is probably the best place to repost the review. Just send them the link to your page and they can’t miss the call to action:

SMB’s have long been warned against putting all of their eggs in the facebook basket.  These recent changes by Facebook are another example of the importance of heeding that advice.

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About Claire Carlile

Claire Carlile is a Chartered Marketer with an MSc in Marketing, living and working in Pembrokeshire, West Wales. As a self confessed ‘non technical’ SEO, Claire takes a holistic and marketing led approach to SEO. She is self-employed.