In the last year, Facebook has been testing star ratings through desktop and mobile “Local Search” as well as on content on Timeline. It has also randomly asked users to rate locations they had been to on the desktop site’s sidebar.
Now, Facebook is testing these ratings on Pages on their desktop site, allowing users to rate any place they want to. The ratings are then featured on the page. Currently, it is only available for a portion of Facebook’s user population.
Facebook added this feature to allow users to provide more accurate information than a like and so both consumers and businesses can benefit from the system. As the prompt is available prominently on the page, users are more likely to give feedback, allowing others to view these on the News Feed.
This can publicize new businesses to consumers and help businesses be more aware of their brand. This is very different from the ambivalent Facebook Like. While the Like can show that a user may support a Page and if it is popular, it is an uncertain method to understand what users are really thinking. In theory, the ratings can provide insight into what people think about it and help others find a business that is well liked. However, this review system is something that users did not expect from Facebook.
There are many flaws with this feature. Users can rate businesses they have never been to, or competitors and hackers can take advantage of the system. It can also be used to give businesses better ratings than they would actually receive. On the mobile system, there is no authentication and it is very easy to give false ratings.
If there are negative reviews, businesses may decide to halt or decrease Facebook advertising. In order to remove star ratings, businesses will need to turn off the map and check-ins feature, which hampers their marketing capabilities.
Facebook’s intention is to provide instantaneous public information and the star ratings can be a useful way of supplementing this information. Although comments and other postings on Facebook can be helpful in discerning how a business is doing, the five-star ratings could allow for a simple and easy to use mode of featuring how others feel about the business.
It is still uncertain whether the system will be compulsory for all Pages. If it were, Facebook would be competing against Google+ Local, Yelp, Angie’s List, and others, which would change how businesses approach Facebook dramatically. This system is still under beta testing so it may not be implemented permanently.
The Facebook five-star rating system is intended to enhance a users experience online and better inform them. If users use it correctly, this could be a great marketing tool and rival Yelp and other competitors.
However, it can harm businesses if taken advantage of. Businesses need to be aware of reviews are affecting them once they start getting them, but it is too soon to tell if the new feature will be detrimental, as users and businesses can easily take advantage of the system.