Facebook announced new tools to help people connect with local businesses and Facebook Recommendations took center stage. Facebook business pages have always been an easy way for business owners to connect with their customers through social media. To date, more than 1.6 billion people are already connected to a local business on Facebook.

The update to Facebook Business Pages includes a new mobile experience, improved ticketing for local events, the addition of Facebook jobs, and making Recommendations more prominent. The new tools will help make Facebook easier to use for local business owners and their customers, but the update to Recommendations will likely have the greatest impact on your bottom line.

 

Starring Facebook Recommendations

Facebook is doubling down on Facebook Recommendations, which will replace Facebook Reviews on local business Pages. According to the update, 1 in 3 people on Facebook use the platform to look for recommendations and reviews. Facebook states, “Local business Pages have always been able to feature ratings and reviews on their Page, and now we are updating reviews to Recommendations.” That makes Facebook Recommendations the new Reviews.

Today, Facebook Recommendations are visible to all Facebook users and businesses and will soon fully replace Reviews altogether. Along with an updated UI, Recommendations combines some of the functionality of reviews into a more streamlined process including:

Rich communication

Instead of asking users to rate your business on a five-point scale, Facebook asks your customers “Yes” or “No” if they recommend you. Customers then see a list of suggested tags to explain their recommendation as well as the option to input text or photos.

Authentic recommendations

The new tools don’t just make it easier for your customers. Facebook’s updates to reporting help you flag content that is fraudulent or spammy with a variety of auto-generated tags, making it easier to have inauthentic feedback removed from your Page.

Greater reach

In addition to higher quality recommendations, you may notice Facebook Recommendations showing up more frequently on your newsfeed. That’s because Facebook is making them more discoverable across its entire platform.

 

What does this mean for business owners?

If you appreciate the influence of reviews on your local business Page, then you probably have a few questions on how your business—and online reputation—might change. It’s important to keep in mind that Facebook is rolling out Recommendations gradually, so you shouldn’t be overly concerned about any sudden changes.

We’ve compiled a list of the most common questions for business owners below.

 

Will Facebook be replacing Reviews with Recommendations?

Yes, Facebook Recommendations is replacing Reviews gradually. As of right now, pages are showing both Facebook Business Reviews and Facebook Recommendations together.

 

How is my Facebook Business Page rating calculated?

Page ratings will still be out of five stars for now. However, as Facebook Recommendations become the new standard, it’s likely that this could change. Facebook stated, “This score is based on how many people recommend or don’t recommend the Page, as well as any past ratings and reviews it may have. You can influence your score by leaving a recommendation on its Page or recommending it to your friends on Facebook.”

 

Which Facebook users see the option to recommend, rather than leave a review?

Facebook users now only have the option to recommend. They can no longer leave star ratings on your page. However, the reviews you received in the past, before this update, are still visible on your “Reviews” tab for now.

 

What does this mean for Podium customers?

For active users, you may have already noticed Facebook Recommendations being pulled into the Reviews section of Podium. Read our complete update for more information on how Facebook Recommendations will affect your Podium account. We’re working closely with Facebook to make sure your experience, and that of your customers, is as seamless as possible.

 

How to ask for recommendations on Facebook

The transition to the Facebook Recommendations feature is an exciting chance for your brand to further build a stellar online reputation. Since Recommendations are set to show up on more newsfeeds and showcase clearer feedback than star ratings, every rating you receive on your Facebook page will matter all the more. If Facebook Reviews weren’t a part of your marketing strategy before, the updated Recommendations feature needs to be now.

Don’t worry if you’re brand new to collecting reviews for your company. Getting a strong flow of Recommendations can be a simple process. All you really need to do is make the ask. To help you get started, here are six great ways you can ask for Recommendations on Facebook:

 

1. Offer incentives

Most of your buyers are willing to leave online reviews if asked, but sometimes, they just need a little push. You can encourage customers to leave you a Facebook Recommendation by offering a small incentive, whether it’s a gift card, coupon, free drink, or something else. This little gift can lead to a huge increase in Recommendations, all while making your buyers feel important and even more positive toward your brand.

Amazon is an example of a brand that does this well. Through its Early Reviewer Program, the company offers select customers $1-$3 gift cards in exchange for real reviews. Similarly, you can make your incentives a part of an ongoing program, so the amount of reviews you receive never really die down.

 

2. Reach out to loyal customers

Some of your best customers may also be your best reviewers—and you definitely want their voices heard by potential customers. They already love what you’re doing, so when they’re willing to give their endorsement, you’ll get a Facebook Recommendation paired with glowing comments about your brand.

When reaching out to these buyers, make sure to personalize all your messages. Personally chat with them or send them individual emails if you can, rather than sending a bulk message under your company’s general email. Make the buyer feel like the VIP they truly are so they take the time to give you the most positive review they can.

 

3. Follow up with customers

While focusing first on your most loyal customers can help you collect some great Recommendations quickly, you don’t want to forget about your other buyers either. Soon after any purchase or customer service experience, you can touch base with the buyer through email, phone call, or any other marketing channels to ask them for a real customer review using Facebook’s Recommendation feature.

Better yet, if you’re able to, we recommend following up with customers in person—perhaps immediately after checkout or the end of an appointment. In-person asks can be substantially more persuasive, so they can help you fill up your Facebook newsfeed with Recommendations.

 

4. Reach out to your network

Your customers aren’t the only ones who may be willing to leave you a solid Facebook Recommendation. Don’t forget to reach out to your network, which includes your professional and personal connections. Invite the people who have directly experienced your brand—including partners, vendors, families, and friends—to leave their thoughts on your Facebook Business Page.

Just as with your customers, you’ll want to send the most-likely reviewers in your network personal messages, chatting in person or over the phone if you can. Connections who fall under your “might review” list should still receive a text, email, or direct message on Facebook Messenger, since your outreach may inspire them to leave great recommendations. However, if you’re short on time, feel free to personalize your messages to these lukewarm connections a little less.

To ensure you don’t miss a willing reviewer, don’t forget to make a Facebook post on your personal profile with a great call-to-action (CTA). This status update may be enough to get some Facebook friends you never even considered to leave a recommendation.

 

5. Make your Recommendations tab accessible

Some customers would give you a Facebook Recommendation in a heartbeat, but perhaps they don’t check their email often, missed your phone call, or simply forgot. Making your Facebook page’s Recommendations tab (currently still called the Reviews tab for most users) accessible through a variety of channels will help you drive those users straight to this review site.

You can link to this Reviews tab on your website, in your newsletters, on other social networks, and more—all paired with a CTA. This will ensure recommending your business is an unmissable ask.

 

6. Automate Recommendation invites

Personal outreach is always the most persuasive approach when asking for reviews, but it can take time. Your business doesn’t have unlimited resources, so odds are, you’ll end up reaching out to those loyal customers and connections without much time to spare. However, when you automate your Recommendation invites, you can rest assured that no opportunity will be missed.

Many businesses use automation tools like Podium Reviews to multiply the reviews they expect on any given week, whether they’re aiming to gain Facebook Recommendations, Google ratings, or star reviews on any other platform. When you do so too, Podium will automatically send your review invites for you via text, so customers can easily leave Facebook ratings using their smartphones.

As the Facebook Recommendations start coming in, make sure to use Podium to keep up with your online reputation management. At the least, respond to both the positive and negative reviews you receive, so shoppers know you care.

Adapt the way you do business. Press send.