Facebook, search engine optimization

Playing The Facebook Ratings Game

4 Comments 15 November 2013

NYCEAC stars upon thars FB cover

This week, Facebook changed the way it wants users to look at Facebook pages. Two days ago, Facebook began prominently displaying a page’s ratings (from zero to five stars) directly below the page name, and above to the number of Likes. It is likely that most page administrators never even noticed, nor paid attention to the “Reviews” section of the page…but no longer. Those of us who spend our time focused on developing an engaged fan base, offering valuable content, and creating conversation and/or community on our pages now have to play the Facebook Ratings Game.

If I sound cynical, then you’re reading this correctly. Once again, Facebook forces a change in priorities. I received panicky calls from clients yesterday because they only had three stars showing. Of course they’d never paid attention to reviews and ratings on Facebook before; it was hard to find where to review a page, and not well-displayed.

Talk about unclear: the meaning of a rating is obscure to both the reviewer and the page administrators. The “Reviews” box, underneath “Posts  by Others” on a page, prompts you to answer the question: “What Do You Think About This Place?” Is it asking “what do I think about the organization?” Or about the Facebook page itself? Or about a specific program of the organization, if the page is just a program page? There’s nothing clear about this.

My guess is that the vast majority of Facebook users are likely to be somewhat influenced by this vanity metric of the sheer number of stars on top. Zero stars? Must not be a great organization. Five stars? Wow. Who’s got stars upon thars now? Oh man welcome to the Ratings Game, as if staff doesn’t have enough to do managing social media.

If we’re lucky, the ratings game will iterate to offer some meaningful value to Page administrators, much as engagement insights have iterated.

If I had the talent of prognostication, I’d predict that Facebook will change its search algorithm to display Facebook search returns that are influenced in part by the number of stars on a page. I’d also guess that Facebook will soon show us our friends’ reviews of Facebook pages when we are using Facebook, and possibly use ratings and reviews to rank pages. I’d even guess that one will soon be viewing the number of stars next to number of likes when a page comes up within Facebook search. Now now, I don’t want to jump to conclusions…but everything in my experience working on this channel tells me that Facebook is getting ready to change its game.

This is what happens when we put all our eggs in one basket. When the basket moves, so do our eggs. I’m the first to say that it’s important to “be where you audience is” online, and for now, that is often Facebook. If so, then we may all soon be forced to ask for Reviews and stars upon ours to appear “legitimate,” and “worthy” of a Facebook feed. Perhaps the good reviews will influence others to join the cause or page on Facebook.

A the lesson here is that we need to continue to remember how important it is to ask our Facebook fans to join our own email lists, causes, and fundraisers on our own websites. Then, we have stars upon ours.




Debra Askanase is an experienced digital engagement strategist, non-profit executive, and community organizer. She works with mission-driven organizations to develop digital strategies and campaigns that engage, create trust, and move stakeholders to action. Debra speaks at conferences worldwide on the intersection of technology, social media, and nonprofit organizations.

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