We all know that it’s getting harder to be seen on Facebook with every passing day. Last week, Facebook even conceded that engagement numbers are lower than expected in the news feed, and is encouraging brands to buy ads and promoted posts for increased exposure. I guess we knew this day would come. But Facebook has a little-used feature that might help university brand pages get more traction—the Facebook Reviews Feature. The downside is that the feature has some functions that may hurt as much as they help.
The Facebook Review Feature was designed to be a Yelp knock-off. When check-in is enabled by listing your address on a brand page, the Review Feature is also enabled. According to the Facebook Help Center, to disable the Review Feature, you must remove your address. If the Review Feature is enabled, you will have a “star rating” under your page’s name (see screen below). The ratings are based on a five-star system.
The reviews will appear on your timeline. There is no verification process, so any comment posted in the review section will appear. Thus, reviews can actually be full of spam as this screenshot below shows. Unlike Yelp, Facebook has no editorial algorithm that spits out spam. Also, as part of the terms of service for this particular feature, Facebook will not allow you to delete any reviews, so it’s all or nothing. Also, there isn’t a review/complaint procedure in place for admins, and I doubt there will be. Individual users can delete reviews they think are spam from their personal view, but admins don’t have the same editorial privilege at this time.
The other problem I see is that the Review Feature can become a bit of a sounding board for cranky fans. On the Michigan State Facebook page, fans are expressing their displeasure with school policies under the Review umbrella.
Cornell University’s fan page has a good mix of positive and negative reviews. In the last month, 72 percent of the review are positive, 16 percent negative, and 12 percent are unrelated to the school. The overall rating might be a bit skewed as some of the off-subject commenters gave their posts a five-star rating. Also, the negative ratings are somewhat off subject–one student complaining about her low GPA and one poster complaining about a faculty matter.
For higher education institutions, the Facebook Review Feature is a mixed bag. The determining factor seems to be the loyalty of the fans. My recommendation would be to try it out and see how fans use it. I did encourage one client who was testing the feature to reach out to alumni influencers and ask them to use the review feature to “seed” the rating and build a loyal base of true reviews–good or bad. The upside: on Yelp, that would be grounds for deleting the reviews. But on Facebook, it will give you a loyalty cushion. If you want to use the feature, use it well. But, you’ll have to be comfortable with discussion—both good and bad.
Are you using the feature? What are your thoughts? Would you share in the comments?