Back in July, we kicked off our three-part series on online review platforms with a look at Google My Business, or GMB. Our response scribes explained how to claim and verify your Google business page, discussed the benefits of a GMB review management strategy, and shared some Google review response tips. (In case you missed it, you can check out the full article here.)
This week, we’re following up with Part 2 of our series by looking at two more of the largest, most important review platforms for agencies and multi-location brands: Facebook and Yelp. We’ll provide simple, straightforward answers to all of your most frequently asked questions about these increasingly influential platforms, including:
- Why are customer reviews on Yelp and Facebook so important for businesses?
- How does your company benefit by responding to Yelp or Facebook reviews?
- How should your agency reply to positive or negative ratings and reviews?
- How does Facebook’s unusual “Recommendation” system work, and how does it differ from a conventional rating system like Google’s?
- How do Facebook’s privacy settings impact your ability to view and interact with comments? And how do they affect the way your business is rated?
- What should you do if you think a review is abusive, racist, irrelevant, or otherwise violates Facebook’s or Yelp’s terms of service (TOS)?
We’ll answer all of these questions, hopefully helping to shed some light on how — and more importantly, why — your agency should make Yelp and Facebook review management a customer service priority for 2021 and beyond. Let’s begin with Facebook, and how you can leverage its review and Recommendation feature to help drive growth for your brand.
How (and Why) to Manage Your Facebook Business Page: Responding to Reviews and Recommendations
Why is Facebook Important for Businesses?
According to HubSpot, roughly 93% of businesses have a Facebook page. With so many of your competitors active on Facebook, it’s vital to make sure your brand has a visible presence — especially since Facebook business pages are free to create. Add in the fact that close to 80% of U.S. consumers “made purchases through discoveries on Facebook” during 2018, and the value of the platform becomes obvious.
Reviews and “Recommendations” — a Facebook-specific feature that we’ll discuss more in just a moment — are one of the most important aspects of your Facebook business page, along with accurate information about your hours, location, and services. As we’ve explored in previous articles, responding to reviews courteously and consistently can help your business retain disgruntled customers, maintain brand loyalty, rank higher on Google, and convince undecided shoppers to try your product or service.
That’s applicable not only to Facebook and Yelp, but all review platforms. However, due to the exceptionally high volume of traffic that Yelp and Facebook receive, it’s prudent to give special attention to these platforms and ensure they are a major part of your reputation and review management strategy.
How Does Facebook’s Rating and Recommendation System Work?
Facebook allows users to review or comment on businesses, with an additional option to include photos and/or relevant tags. However, some of its terminology is unique.
In 2019, Facebook shifted from a traditional rating system to a recommendation-based system. Similar to its iconic “Like” feature, the Recommendation feature allows users to share whether or not they would recommend your business.
The reviewer’s recommendation is indicated by a red star icon (positive / does recommend) or grey star icon (negative / does not recommend), which appears next to the reviewer’s name. This star icon is distinct from and should not be confused with your overall star rating (e.g. “5 out of 5”), which will be prominently displayed in a separate area on your business page, as shown in the screenshot below.
Even though commenters do not have the ability to leave a star rating for your business, a star rating will still be calculated by Facebook to help users gauge the overall quality of your brand. (In the screenshot above, for example, “5 out of 5” stars are awarded.) In other words, Facebook crunches user feedback to assign your business a rating, which can then fluctuate based on your reviews and other factors. According to Facebook’s somewhat opaque explanation, here’s how its star ratings for businesses are determined:
A Page’s rating is based on multiple sources, such as the reviews and Recommendations people share about business Pages on Facebook. Only Pages that allow Recommendations may show a rating, and a Page may not have a rating if it hasn’t received enough Recommendations.
As you can gather from the quote above, it’s essential to make sure your business:
- Has an adequate number of Recommendations.
- Has the Recommendations feature turned on, which we’ll cover next.
How Do I Create and Manage a Facebook Business Page?
Facebook provides detailed step-by-step instructions that explain how to create a Facebook business page. Once your page is up and running, you should follow Facebook’s instructions for turning on Recommendations, which will help to ensure that you are able to manage and respond to comments from Facebook users.
What Are Some Helpful Tips for Replying to Positive or Negative Comments?
We’re glad you asked! Skip ahead to the end of the article, where we’ve compiled some helpful resources that will provide you with detailed, step-by-step tips for replying to positive or negative reviews on Facebook, Yelp, GMB, and other platforms. No matter what type of review you need help responding to, you’ll find a guide below that will walk you through the process.
How Should I Deal with Abusive or Offensive Facebook Reviews?
You’re bound to receive a few reviews whose contents you don’t quite agree with. However, if a review truly crosses the line into threatening or abusive territory (or contains outright spam), you can always report the comment for violating Facebook community standards. This is a better approach than simply turning off Recommendations outright, since Recommendations and reviews are so vital for the growth and visibility of your page.
What About Private Reviews?
Since Facebook is a social media platform, users can customize their privacy settings when sharing content, such as setting photographs to be “Public” or “Friends” in terms of who may access them. This also applies to business reviews, which Facebook users have the option to keep private, share publicly (i.e. with friends and other users), or share with just their friends.
The bad news is that you cannot view, engage with — or learn from — reviews that commenters have chosen not to make public. The good news is that these reviews will not impact your overall Facebook rating.
How to Manage and Respond to Positive or Negative Yelp Reviews
Data Shows Why Yelp Reviews (and Responses) Matter
As we mentioned near the start of this article, it’s important to respond to reviews across all platforms. No matter where a review is posted, responding can have benefits for your agency like improved SEO and better customer retention. Here, however, are some statistics that highlight why Yelp stands out from other platforms:
- Yelp receives over 178 million visitors per month.
- Restaurants and home service businesses are the two most frequently rated types of businesses on Yelp (18% each), which is critical for agencies or businesses within these verticals.
- Increasing your Yelp rating by just one star can boost revenue by anywhere from 5% to 9%, according to some research.
How Do I Create and Manage a Yelp Business Page?
It is free to create and manage a Yelp page for your business, with premium services available as optional add-ons (such as Yelp Connect). Creating a Yelp listing ensures that you can share information about your brand, post updates about deals or promotions, share images, and of course, respond to Yelp reviews. Follow these thorough step-by-step instructions to create a Yelp page for your agency.
How Does Yelp Determine Business Ratings?
Your business can earn a rating of one to five stars on Yelp, which determines your overall rating. Simple, right? Unfortunately, it’s not quite that straightforward. This is because Yelp uses sophisticated recommendation software that analyzes every comment “based on hundreds of signals of quality, reliability, and user activity.” As Yelp explains, “The reviews it identifies as the most helpful and reliable are recommended.”
Only recommended reviews factor into your business’ overall Yelp rating, according to one support page. As Yelp explains, the “reviews in the ‘not currently recommended’ section for a business do not factor into the overall star rating of that business. Only the star ratings of recommended reviews are used to calculate the business’s overall rating.” For better or worse, only around 70% to 75% of Yelp reviews are recommended, meaning approximately one quarter of your reviews won’t ultimately make an impact.
Most consumers sort by “Recommended” when browsing Yelp reviews, though options like “Highest Rated” and “Most Reviewed” also exist. Additionally, sponsored results may appear at the very top of a search, even if those businesses have lower or fewer star ratings than businesses appearing lower down the page.
How Should I Handle Abusive or Offensive Yelp Reviews?
Like Facebook, Yelp will remove reviews that are flagged or reported for violating its policies. According to one support page, there are three main reasons why a Yelp review can be removed:
- “The reviewer has an apparent conflict of interest” (such as a competitor, current or former employee, or a promoter).
- The review is irrelevant (including plagiarized or spam reviews).
- The review contains any “inappropriate material,” which Yelp defines to include “hate speech, lewd commentary, or threatening language,” along with “private information about employees or patrons” (such as home addresses, social security numbers, or other personal data).
To report a Yelp review, follow the instructions here. Be advised that negative reviews will not be removed based on a business owner’s request, unless they actually violate Yelp’s policies.
What Are Some Helpful Tips for Replying to Positive or Negative Reviews on Yelp?
Not sure how to write a quality review reply on Yelp or Facebook? Don’t worry — we have plenty of expert suggestions to help you craft empathetic and effective owner responses. Browse the list below for tips on dealing with all types of review management scenarios, including:
- Tips for Responding to 1-Star Reviews
- Tips for Responding to 3-Star Reviews
- Tips for Responding to 5-Star Reviews
- Tips for Responding to Positive Reviews
- Tips for Responding to Negative Reviews
- Online Review Management Mistakes Your Agency Needs To Avoid
- 3 Harvard-Recommended Strategies for Agencies When Responding to Negative Reviews
Need Help Managing Facebook or Yelp Pages? Ask About Our Reputation Management and Review Response Services for Agencies
“According to Yelp’s Data Science team,” says one Yelp blog post, “Yelp users are 33% more likely to upgrade their review if you respond with a personalized message within a day.” Other studies have turned up similar findings, like a 2020 survey by BrightLocal that showed 20% of consumers expected to receive an owner response within one day.
There’s no question that consumers want businesses to reply to their comments and ratings — or that doing so can have myriad benefits for your agency, from better SEO to reduced customer churn. But with so many projects and clients on your plate, you simply don’t have the time to provide a personalized response to every reviewer.
Let our review reply service lighten the load and free up bandwidth your agency can use to focus on your top priorities. Our experienced team of response scribes is available to provide custom review responses within 24 hours, including Yelp, Facebook, GMB, and dozens of other platforms. With our scalable and innovative response scribe service, plus powerful and versatile white label solutions, we are uniquely positioned to meet your agency’s evolving review management needs.
Emily Homrok is a freelance copywriter with more than five years of writing experience. She joined the Shout About Us team as a content strategist in 2020.