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Facebook pulls review functionality from pages – next steps for SMBs

10 October 2011 BY

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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.

AUTHORED BY:
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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.
  • http://www.brickmarketing.com/ Nick Stamoulis

    This is why you should never rely too heavily on any one medium for marketing purposes. It’s important to be active in social media, but you don’t own your social media property. In this case, Facebook owns that property, and they can do whatever they’d like with it whenever they want.

    • http://www.clairecarlilemarketing.com Claire Carlile

      Thanks for stopping by Nick! Yes, one of the most importanrt things for SMB’s to get their head around is that they don’t own their social media content, and that social media does not replace the need for a findable website that will press all of the buttons for their target market. Brian Slawson doesn’t appear to have a website for his photography business, relying instead on referrals from his social media presence. Brian – get a website :)

  • http://www.odellia.com Odellia Firebird

    Facebook made it really easy for small business to gain access to promotional pages that normally would have required paying an expensive website designer to create. Static websites are cheep to make, but one with great malleable functions, is another ball game. Unfortunately, Facebook has been killing the beauty of it’s pages by removing useful functions like Discussions and Reviews. These were awesome tools. I wish we could protest and force them to keep them! There are so many things you can’t do on the wall itself and you need these to organize data and information. And for them to say that “We’ve found the best way to encourage conversation and feedback is through posts and comments on your Wall” is pretentious. Who are they to decide for every single business there is? They should make more tools available, not less! It is so frustrating!

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  • http://www.kaydinsdale.co.uk Kay

    Glad you picked up on this Claire. Discussions are only useful if the page owner encourages use and actively participates. Otherwise it makes a very handy archive which a large percentage of page visitors won’t see. Personally I’m glad about the plans to remove discussions because I’m sick of the long used tactic practiced by the larger corporates, orgs and councils of burying negative wall posts in the discussions area.

    While I think Facebook has a ‘method in its madness’ by removing discussions I hope it will rethink the exit strategy and fully support those who have made full and proper use of it. At least let’s see a decent export function.

    • http://www.clairecarlilemarketing.com Claire Carlile

      hello Kay! yes, an export function would be ideal, but alas is unlikely I guess. I’ve now ripped the review pages of my SMB clients, and have set about repurposing the content elsewhere. Good luck with yours!

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