Facebook place pages now include an option for users to give star ratings to businesses and locations directly from their page on Facebook.com, even if they haven’t been to the location. Facebook tells us this is a test.
Previously, users could rate places from the Local Search section of the mobile app, and only if they had previously checked into the location or been tagged there. Facebook would also use the desktop sidebar to randomly prompt users to rate places they had been. There wasn’t a way for users to rate any place at any time they wanted until this past few weeks.
This enables users to go back and rate the places they might not have checked into on Facebook, but it also opens the door to rating manipulation. For instance, a business could ask friends or incentivize fans to give them five-star ratings. This became a problem at one point with app ratings. Facebook eliminated app reviews and ratings when manipulation made them no longer useful, but it later brought them back with more ways to keep them legitimate, such as random sampling. Facebook says it will continue to track engagement on place ratings to find ways to improve them over time.
This lates test on desktop place pages also gives users an easy way to change their rating. Before, the only way we could find to change a place rating was to do so through the activity log, but it could be difficult to find the rating among all of a user’s other actions. Changing a rating is not possible to do from the mobile app.
We also noticed that unadministrated pages now include a way for users to rate and recommend the place. Unadministrated places are often cities, public parks or local businesses that haven’t claimed their page on Facebook.
Although Facebook has had a “recommend this place” feature since 2011, it has only recently begun to emphasize ways for users to share more feedback about the locations and businesses they visit. The social network is also developing the same for content, with users now able to rate books, movies and TV shows as of this week. All of this is building Facebook’s potential as a local search and entertainment discovery platform, and has implications for the businesses and organizations that manage their presence there. More user generated reviews and ratings gives page owners a bit less control over what is displayed on their page and the sentiments revealed there. These ratings could also begin to influence Graph Search and News Feed distribution, introducing another factor for marketers to consider and optimize for.