Baer Facts, Social Media Tools, Facebook

7 Questions About Facebook’s New Star Ratings System


In this “let’s get physical” edition of The Baer Facts, I talk with Kyle Lacy of ExactTarget about Facebook’s new system of applying star ratings to Pages, and the merits of kettlebell as a workout option. Timely note: This episode features a guest appearance by my quasi-celebrity personal trainer, Lindsay Forster. In addition to whipping me into shape (her success is mitigated by my constant travel and inability to put down the cheeseburgers and IPA), Lindsay is also a guest star on the Discovery Channel show Porter Ridge, which is filmed around here. Lindsay and I live in the urbane college town of Bloomington, Indiana. But just outside of town, things get rural and …… interesting. Thus, a “reality” show about those happenings.

Lindsay’s big TV debut is Tuesday, November 26. Set your DVRs for Porter Ridge. You can follow her on Instagram right here. 

On with the Facebook news:

screen_shot_2013_11_11_at_11_53_19_am_w640Like Sneetches, but with more Memes

Taking a play from Yelp, Facebook has been collecting ratings data via their mobile app for more than a year. Now, they are testing a system whereby those 1-5 average ratings will display quite prominently right below the name of your business Facebook page. This has not rolled out to all pages, and appears to be limited to pages that have added an address, since they are likely to have received star reviews from mobile Facebook users.

What Does the Star Say?

I don’t have a problem with this concept in general, but I dislike the fact that Facebook – adhering to its typically inscrutable approach to discussing new features that ranges from Sphinxian to Belichickian – has divulged almost no informational crumbs about what’s going on, or why.

Here are just a few questions I have about star reviews on Facebook. Leave your own in the comments if I’ve missed some, won’t you?

  1. Is this score only determined by ratings generated from mobile users?
  2. How many people rated this business?
  3. Do more recent ratings receive extra credit?
  4. Do ratings from Facebook users with more social connections receive extra credit?
  5. Do these ratings impact how/whether content from this business is shown in the news feed?
  6. Can ratings be used to target advertising? (i.e. only show my ad to people who have rated my business)
  7. How can Facebook  mitigate false ratings intended to inflate the average score?

See what I mean? Facebook is an amazing company that has changed the world in many ways. Their legacy is secure. But it is equal parts frustrating and irresponsible that a company with such a stranglehold on our collective attention continues to lob trial grenades around like they were cotton candy. Imagine if your local utility decided to roll out – without announcement or explanation – a new “feature” where more popular businesses got all the electricity they want, but less popular businesses had their electricity automatically throttled down based on an algorithm. We’d be grabbing pitchforks (and maybe flashlights).

I’m okay with Facebook evolution and iteration. Just like the Hunger Games, they have to keep doing new stuff to keep our attention. But how about a FAQ or something? Is that too much to ask?


Facebook Comments


  1. padgettshcom says

    Great questions! I especially like, “Do ratings from Facebook users with more social connections receive extra credit?”.

    Facebook is a powerful tool, one many have grown to rely on to get the word out about their business. I say you’re right to question their somewhat questionable–and almost always controversial–behavior regarding change.

  2. Brian Marks says

    Also – what is the impact/effect for graph search – will only the top rated show when I search for “burgers in Philly”?

  3. Denise Butchko says

    What if my clientele is very private about their dealings? They don’t want others to know they spend a couple of months salary on a luxury item like a closet? That means no ratings for me :(

  4. Frederic Gonzalo says

    The question I would have for Facebook is: how do brands manage reviews and stars? On TripAdvisor or Yelp, brands can claim their account (establishment) and answer to folks who post comments and reviews. So if someone puts 1 star with a harsh comment, a brand can at least try to answer the client, and sometimes it will defuse the situation. It’s a documented fact that folks will actually change their opinion, and some may even remove their initial (harsh) comment. How will this work on Facebook if they are really going down path?
    From an e-reputation standpoint, this stuff is potent and as you mention, it’s pretty irresponsible from Facebook to just launch a trial balloon without any mechanism to manage it all, at least from a brand’s perspective.

    • says

      As far as I’ve seen, they are still not allowing page owners to respond to these reviews and ratings. This is a huge customer service misstep on Facebook’s part. An owner response is an integral part of the process, especially with the page trolling that is rampant on Facebook. Misinformation spreads like wildfire, but more importantly, these can be legitimate complaints that deserve a response.
      The star rating shows up prominently in Graph Search results (though I can’t find definitive information on whether the ratings directly affect how/if a business shows up in search results). Hopefully, enough people will speak up and Facebook will allow page owners to respond. What is Facebook, if not a two way conversation platform? As it stands, this is solely a one way street.

      • says

        Your last sentence hits the nail on the head… Sure, commenting would probably invite debate over reviews, but it’s a social platform and thus the ideal place to have that happen. After all, we really do need to back away from this absolute, 1-5 points, incontestable, concept that exists in most of local.

  5. Richard Willner says

    I wonder about the effects on Graph Search too. Is it too simplistic to believe that businesses with higher star ratings will therefore be given priority in search results?

  6. says

    I have been seeing the review feature on Facebook web for a few months (perhaps I’m just picking the “right” pages) so, while I don’t
    profess to have any answers, a few points to add to the discussion:

    1. Reviews are not just captured on mobile. There is a web version which allows for privacy controls to public / friends / custom (To Denise’s comment).

    2. No comments are required to review via web (i.e. you can give a rather meaningless stars only review).

    3. You can revise your review at any time with no edited history / log showing up.

    4. Address seems to be a major factor in feature “enabling” (oakley has one & has reviews, coke does not and no reviews) which would suggest
    businesses should add address to unlock it, yet it’s not suggested anywhere, and not all places with addresses have it?

    5. Thankfully being a “fan” is not required but does it influence anything if you are?

    Clearly reviews were a logical move for Facebook to play in local and
    I’m wondering if we’ll actually see a lower “bias” factor given their
    far wider userbase vs Yelp, etc as a plus to good businesses (and a negative to those who have bought off / faked comments).

    Still, it’s just functionally
    strange: No way to click from stars to reviews? No responding? No sub-detailing or attribution of any sort? It really doesn’t feel like what they’ve got now matches up to the “social” platform they’ve got it on for any user.

    • says

      You’re right on, Ted. The only way you can turn off the ability for people to review your business is to turn off check-ins under the map in the address area of your Page Info settings. This will also remove the map from your Facebook page though, so it’s not really suggested for local businesses to do this.

      • says

        Thanks @Robzie81:disqus! I’ve also noticed that on mobile you’ll see a count of the number of reviews left… as I suspected, the volume is much higher than traditional review sites… huge opportunity.

        • says

          Definitely some opportunity @TedS027:disqus, but I also fear a little overwhelming for some business owners that might be trying to keep up. Especially small and local biz owners. Many can hardly keep up with Yelp/G+ reviews as it is.
          By the way, hello, fellow -ski!

  7. says

    Love the idea of using post rating to develop the star rating, Jay. Unfortunately, from what I’ve seen so far, people are treating it just like they do Yelp–to talk about in-person experiences. Rarely have I seen the ratings reflective of the page itself.

  8. JimYoungPRBrigade says

    I agree with a lot of what’s been said so far, especially about the weakness of not being able to respond to negative reviews. That said, the system is live for a number of brands. Because of people’s inclination to report on negative experiences instead of positive ones, it behooves brands to draw all their followers attention to the feature so that satisfied customers can leave a review too.

  9. Traci St Claire Johnson says

    The biggest problem that I see with this is that you do not always get to see who gave you the ratings due to privacy settings and therefore if you get a negative rating, you can’t respond. We have a satisfaction guarantee on our products but how can we offer it if we don’t know who is unhappy? In addition, I was just in a situation whereby a competitor was giving us negative ratings. They claimed to have made a purchase and it wasn’t true and it wasn’t until I threatened a libel/defamation lawsuit that they removed it. So this feature can and will be abused by unscrupulous businesses to try and hurt their competitors. My thought is that if you review a page, you give up some of your rights to privacy to do so.

  10. Kelly Lu says

    I’ve been seeing business reviews popping up on my news feed asking me to rate their companies right then and there. I think this is a great idea for our company! My question is, how do I send out facebook ratings for my page on my users news feeds? A way for them to instantly rate my page without actaully visitng my page. Hope this makes sense!

  11. Lindsay says

    We are a small locally owned business and received a 1 star rating from someone in Pakistan whom I am sure has never been in our store! However, we cannot delete the 1 star rating! We have commented on it but they never answered. It’s really sad that we cannot do anything about something that brings our business down.

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