facebook recommendations

Facebook Recommendations: An Underrated Gold Mine for Social Proof

Facebook recommendations will grow in importance for businesses. A form of social proof, they'll also be valuable as a customer acquisition channel. Read More...

It's the gold rush most marketers ignore.

According to Statista, Facebook has 2.41 billion monthly active users as of Q2 2019. It's no surprise to most of us that Facebook is a social media behemoth.

Here's the surprising part.

Facebook states that one in three people use the platform to look for recommendations and reviews. It's difficult to get a handle on what 1 in 3 actually means. How many people rely on Facebook for reviews and recommendations?

795,300,000.

Almost 1 billion people use Facebook to find the right company

Facebook also states that 2 in 3 Facebook users visit the page of a local business each week. So that's 1.6 billion people relying on Facebook for local search.

Here's what we'll cover today:

1. Why Facebook recommendations are important for your business

2. How to attract more Facebook reviews

3. How to convert positive reviews into traffic, leads and revenue

Let's dive in.

1. Why Facebook recommendations are important for your business

When most marketers talk about Facebook's value, they discuss the obvious benefits. Facebook has 2.41 billion users, which provides brands with more exposure. The ability to reach a desired target audience with pinpoint accuracy, increased brand loyalty, more leads, instant access to customers, etc.

These obvious points are important for most businesses.

What about the hidden benefit?

Facebook has built-in virality:

Users can see and monitor their friend's activity. Your friends see your reactions, comments and follows on public pages across Facebook. This one simple feature changes human behavior in a variety of ways.

Information cascade

Information cascade refers to herd behavior, where the decisions of one person impact the future decisions of others. For example, a popular restaurant will have an easier time attracting new customers as more people will choose to eat there due to their popularity.

Keeping up with the Joneses

"Keeping up with the Joneses" is an idiom we're all familiar with. People are comparing themselves to one another using opportunity, privilege, access and the accumulation of material goods as a benchmark for social class.

The Gini Coefficient

The Gini Coefficient is an index that measures the amount of income inequality for a particular area. The Gini Coefficient measures material wealth relative to others in a particular area or sphere. Research from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia found neighbors of lottery winners felt social pressure to compete with winners.

This all seems like a stretch. How does this benefit brands on Facebook?

Facebook's built-in virality works to amplify these behaviors. What does this mean for your business? Positive recommendations on your Facebook page increase the amount of authority, trust and credibility your brand receives. Negative reviews decrease your authority, trust and credibility - at a faster rate.

Other review platforms are different.

Social connections on platforms like Yelp or Google are secondary to the main goal of the platform or service. With Facebook, strong connections and relationships are the main point of the site.

How does this affect brands and local businesses?

Facebook status update

This is huge.

Facebook's privacy center states:

"If you choose Public for a post, your next post will also be Public unless you change the audience when you post. This one tool appears in multiple places, such as your privacy shortcuts and privacy settings. When you make a change to the audience selector tool in one place, the change updates the tool everywhere it appears."

Then they end with this:

"When you post to another person's timeline, that person controls what audience can view the post. Additionally, anyone who gets tagged in a post may see it, along with their friends."

What does this mean? Each of your customers is a node in a network. When a customer makes a public recommendation, it's visible to a large number of people in their social network. A consistent stream of positive recommendations amplifies your brand's authority, trust, and credibility.

graphic representation of a Node.

What really stood out to us here at Grade.us was the way Facebook reviews are now becoming 'Recommendations.'

In Facebook's words:

Recommendations: Your customers are your best ambassadors. When people look for places to eat, shop or book a service they often ask their friends and families where to go. That's why we’re making it easier for people to recommend your business by bringing Recommendations to your Page. People will now be able to post a Recommendation for your business including text, photos and tags directly on your Page. And Recommendations will also help you reach people while they're searching for or talking about your business.

This is why your business needs Facebook recommendations. If you're a local, regional or national brand recommendations are crucial. If you're running a B2C firm, Facebook recommendations are indispensable.

In August of 2018, Facebook changed from a 5-star review rating system to the binary options of "recommended" or "not recommended" as seen here:

Image Image Image

Facebook's Rich Endorsements

Sometimes, people don't know what to write in their reviews. With the move to recommendations, it's helpful to be prompted what to write. A simple recommendation or non-recommendation isn't helpful for other friends or potential customers.

To avoid 'empty recommendations' Facebook has added prompted attributes which they're referring to as 'Rich Endorsements' to include in the recommendations, so far we're only seeing this for restaurants and coffee shops, but we can expect them to roll these endorsements to other industries.

Image

Recommending customers are also encouraged to include photos in their recommendations.

Image

Whether or not Facebook decides to invest any more resources into their recommendation features, the value already exists.

How did Grade.us adjust to the change?

Since a new binary rating system had an effect on aggregate ratings like those provided by Grade.us, we made some adjustments.

Recommendations are not yet being exposed via Facebook's API, so it will be some time before changes are reflected there. Monitoring via the Grade.us API continues to work for Facebook reviews, but recommendations are currently invisible to us until this change is implemented.

We have updated Facebook's review monitoring such that if/when recommendations are made available on the public business page, we will collect them normally, assigning a 5.0 rating for recommendations and a 1.0 rating for dis-recommendations (We will implement something similar short-term if/when recommendations are exposed in the API).

We will implement long-term fixes that will separate out recommendation content to report and re-display it accurately in the platform, reports, and the review stream.

Additionally, we have gone ahead and updated our review funnel instructions so they reflect Facebook's change as you can see below:

Grade.us Facebook recommendation instructions

This seems to be an adjustment period for Facebook.

With changes to their newsfeeds to focus on the social aspect of the user experience and less on the businesses that keep their shareholders happy and their company profitable, they're trying to find a balance.

Facebook recommendations are a change, but will become front and center for businesses. Not only do they provide a new form of social proof, they'll be valuable as a customer acquisition channel. When someone recommends a business, it will appear in their feed for their social network to see, amplifying businesses with each new recommendation.

Facebook is still providing businesses opportunities to advertise on the massive platform. Part of that is offering a more organic way of penetration for local businesses via social recommendations, customized business pages, call to actions, events, and job postings. It will be fascinating to see how these tools evolve and what role paid advertisements will continue to play in the Facebook business ecosystem.

How to 2x your Facebook recommendations

When it comes to social proof, Facebook is an underrated goldmine. This is significant as Facebook has systematically reduced the organic reach of brands on its platform. Today, Facebook is primarily a pay-to-play platform.

If you're a publicly-traded company, this makes sense.

With Facebook recommendations, it's different. You're able to piggyback on the recommendations of your customers, hitching a ride into the feeds of their friends and connections. It's virality on tap. And the best part about all of this?

It costs you nothing.

Here's how you can 2x, 4x, and even 10x your Facebook recommendations, traffic, leads and revenue.

Step #1: Do something legendary

You'll need to give customers something to rave about.

Something legendary that attracts attention.

You'll also need to prepare your team; get them to go above and beyond. Your goals should be twofold: (1.) Raise the performance bar increasing the value and outstanding service you provide to customers. (2.) Stay on the hunt for opportunities over-deliver value to your customers. These goals should be routine.

Here are the most important steps:

1. Your customers come to you with a problem.

2. Next, tell customers how you're going to solve their problems and what you'll do to solve their problems.

3. Solve their problem, then go above and beyond.

4. Show customers what you did and how you went above and beyond for them.

5. Check-in with a thoughtful follow-up or thank you (e.g., a handwritten card).

Finally, allow customers to bathe in the afterglow of their recent experience with you. This last step is especially important. If you rush into step two, customers may feel you did it to earn a review and not because you cared about them. If they believe that, you probably won't get a review.

That's not why you did it, but they'll be inclined to believe it.

Your goal should be to take exceptional care of your customers and build a solid reputation as someone your customers can trust.

Step #2: Ask for recommendations

You've probably seen the data, but I'll repeat it again. Research shows that 70% of your customers will leave a review when asked. Here's the thing about inducing virality.

It takes time.

You're also going to have to accept some unpleasant realities about this approach.

  • You can’t control it. You may be able to quarantine, guide or corral it, but that’s a very different thing from wielding control over virality. People don’t like to be controlled.
  • It works when it works. It’s a good idea to re-create the conditions needed to induce virality (e.g., positive reviews, amazing customer stories, good feedback, excellent product that, etc.). The conditions work when they work, not when you want them to.
  • It’s testable and repeatable. The better you are at re-creating the conditions needed to induce virality, the more likely it is you’ll achieve said virality. Learn from your failures, test your approach and continue to push. You’ll eventually catch fire.
  • Past “duds” become a future success. It may be discouraging to create a batch of amazing reviews, create the conditions for virality and do everything right, only for your campaign to fall flat. Don’t let this stop you. These “duds” become fuel for future successes. Customers will use these duds as validators to verify your authority, credibility and track record.

You'll want to reach out to 5 to 10 of your best customers (or the customers you've targeted in step one).

Let them know that you're looking for feedback on your business, product or service:

Hi [Customer Name],

[Your Name] here. I'm reaching out to our top 3% customers (that's you :). Would you be willing to share your feedback on [service]? It only takes [x] min.

[Survey Link]

No worries if you can't.

Thanks for sticking with us [through the years]. You've been so good to us.

[Signature]

Once they agree to share their feedback, ask them about these five or six questions.

1. What would have prevented you from buying [product or service]?

2. What did you find as a result of buying [product or service]?

3. What did you like most about our [product or service]?

4. What would be three other benefits to [product or service]?

5. Did we make you happy?

6. Would you recommend this to someone else? Why?

These questions give your customers a clear track to follow. There's no confusion about what they should say or how they should say it. When customers answer these questions, they can’t help but share a believable, credible review that defuses objections.

You'll want to record their feedback (get permission ahead of time).

Then, once you've received their feedback, you'll want to transcribe their recommendations. Send them a copy and ask if they'd be willing to share it as a recommendation on Facebook.

Here's a template you can use or customize.

Hi [Customer Name],

Your feedback was incredible. Thank you so much for taking the time to do that.

[I'm so glad we've made you happy.]

Here's a copy of our interview together for your records.

Would you be willing to share your feedback on Facebook?

You can share the whole thing or just an excerpt. It's totally up to you. Here's a link to our page:

[Facebook page link]

We appreciate you either way.

Warmly,

[Signature]

These are your seed recommendations.

It's important to get these recommendations right as these are the starting point of your review management campaign. Once you've collected a pool (10) of amazing recommendations, you're ready to move on to the next step.

Step #3: Contact more customers

Using your batch of amazing recommendations, you're going to reach out to the rest of your customers. Here's the difference with this campaign. You're going to use your seed reviews as social proof in your message. If the reviews are quite long, use excerpts.

Here's a template you can use/customize:

Hi [Customer Name],

[Reviewer name], one of our customers in [location], said we were [quote: the best hotel on the east coast]. What do you think?

What was your experience with us?

Would you be willing to share? Positive or negative, we'd love to hear your feedback.

[Facebook Link].

We love you either way.

Best,

[Signature]

Do this regularly with each of your new or forgotten customers. Keep doing this until you find Facebook connections between customers in your lists. When you find those connections, include them in your message using the template above

Why does this work?

You've heard of the 6 degrees of separation, right?

"I read somewhere that everybody on this planet is separated by only six other people. Six degrees of separation. Between us and everybody else on this planet. The president of the United States. A gondolier in Venice. Fill in the names... How every person is a new door, opening up into other worlds. Six degrees of separation between me and everyone else on this planet. But to find the right six people..."

– John Guare, Six Degrees of Separation (1990)

Facebook crunched the numbers and found that...

"Each person in the world (at least among the 1.59 billion people active on Facebook) is connected to every other person by an average of three and a half other people. The average distance we observe is 4.57, corresponding to 3.57 intermediaries or "degrees of separation." Within the US, people are connected to each other by an average of 3.46 degrees."

Our collective "degrees of separation" have shrunk over the past five years.

"Researchers at Cornell, the Università degli Studi di Milano, and Facebook computed the average across the 721 million people using the site then and found that it was 3.74. Now, with twice as many people using the site, we’ve grown more interconnected, thus shortening the distance between any two people in the world."

Your customers are connected to each other.

This connection, via social proof, improves your odds of inducing virality, increasing the number of reviews, traffic, leads and revenue you receive.

This is amazing stuff!

What about personal privacy? While each user sets the visible privacy for their friends' list, mutual friends are always listed.

Facebook mutual friends example

As you continue to work this strategy, you'll begin to notice more of your customer's mutual connections. Continue working these connections into your pitch using the templates above.

Step #4: Amplify customer connections

Stumbling onto your customer's mutual connections is doable, but it's not really all that scalable. There's an easier way to scale this strategy. If it's done right, it helps to induce the kind of virality we're looking for.

Connect your customers.

There are so many ways to make this happen. That's not as important as using value to bring customers together consistently. The exact implementation will vary from industry to industry. What's important is that you find the strategy that works best for you.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Customer conventions and conferences (e.g., MozCon)
  • Monthly luncheons, breakfasts or brunch
  • Annual getaways
  • Quarterly sweepstakes and prizes
  • Activity oriented events (e.g., cycling, meetups, dinner parties, concerts, etc.)
  • Surprise drop-ins
  • Social causes and thematic events (i.e., Golf to support a cause)
  • Highly engaged forums or Facebook groups

Here's how you do it.

You get to know each of the customers who frequent this event. Then you find creative ways to introduce them to each other. You're looking for opportunities to create value. Connect these customers offline, and it's easier to connect them online via Facebook. Connect people via Facebook, and it's easier to induce virality.

This is powerful.

Here's how Bruce Kasanoff, LinkedIn Influencer, describes it.

"Think of yourself as a talent scout. Never stop watching for people who might mesh in a good way with others whom you know."

Do this for your customers, and you aren't simply a node in a network, you're the caretaker of the network. An influencer who's able to move freely from one node or sub-network to the next. How does this produce revenue for your business?

It's simple.

You spend time with the customers (nodes) in your network. You identify their hidden desires, goals, fears and frustrations. You find new ways to solve their problems - better, faster, cheaper. You use Facebook as the mechanism to cement these weak connections.

Tie these weak connections to your business, product or service.

Make sure the connection is seamless, natural and organic, never forced. Build a connection that's all about your customers. Provide them with the benefits they need to achieve the outcomes they're looking for. Do this consistently, and customers will reward you with more traffic and revenue.

Facebook Recommendations: The Gold Rush most brands ignore

Facebook has 2.41 billion monthly active users. 795 million of them search for recommendations on Facebook. Is your business prepared for this gold rush?

Now's the time to act.

When most marketers talk about Facebook's value, they're oblivious to the benefits that come with Facebook Recommendations. You're not; you're in the know. Pull the obvious and hidden benefits together, and you'll have a cohesive plan you can use to boost your online review portfolio, driving an avalanche of traffic, leads and revenue to your doorstep.

About the Author

Garrett Sussman

Twitter

Garrett is the Senior Content Manager at Grade.us, an online review management and marketing platform. When he's not crafting content, he's scouting the perfect ice coffee, devouring the newest graphic novels, and concocting a new recipe in the kitchen.

This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. Great article Garrett! Really laid out well this Facebook change that many small businesses, not to mention customers understand yet.

    1. Thanks, Jim! It’s an interesting choice for FB to actually replace the 5 star system with a binary system. At least they kept the old reviews and didn’t just toss them in the trash. If they did that and I was a small business owner, I’d be really upset.

      Have your clients noticed the change at all yet? I’d be interested to hear their opinions.

  2. So my FB page is relatively new and I have one 2 star rating that was in error by someone who wasn’t paying close attention. I now have 2 new 5 Star reviews plus some new recommendations but yet my rating has stayed at a 2 based on that one original review. Why is this rating not updating? Does it need time to update?

    1. Thanks for the comment Laurie! That’s a good question. It could possibly need time to update. If I had to guess, it might be a 24 hour process, but I didn’t see any documentation on Facebook’s support pages regarding how quickly the ratings will be updated.

      You should still be able to get the past reviewer to update their rating if it was in error. Definitely reach out and let them know how valuable their feedback is both for your business, but also for the way other customers will perceive your company. They might be more likely to adjust the rating if it was in error.

      Let us know how long it takes for Facebook to update the rating when you see a change!

  3. We had a 3 star review on our page turn into a ‘not recommended’. Actually 2 of them. Damn.

    1. Hey Jolyn,

      Thank you so much for sharing. Personally, I think that’s a bad idea on Facebook’s part, but it’s good to know that that’s the case. This binary recommend / not recommend thing seems like it’s going to have a large impact on FB marketing.

  4. What is better, for clients to leave a review or recommendation? Still don’t get it.

    1. Hi Lauraine,

      So Facebook is removing the 5 star review rating system altogether.

      Businesses won’t have a choice, everything will be recommendations. Clients will *only* be able to either recommend or not recommend the business going forward.

      Does this help clarify?

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

77 Shares
Tweet2
Share63
Share
Buffer12