How Facebook reviews can deliver big wins

As organizations try to boost their lagging organic reach on the social media platform, some are turning to user interactions—and that means using online reviews.

How to harness Facebook reviews

Facebook’s algorithm for displaying reviews can irk even the most savvy communicator.

Your business can have an impressive 4.3-star overall rating, yet at the top of the home page, Facebook’s algorithm displays two one-star reviews. If you are a potential customer checking out the page, it isn’t a great first impression.

This is extremely frustrating as a business owner. The majority of the reviews of the business are overwhelmingly positive, but it’s the two outliers that get the spotlight.

Why does Facebook prioritize these negative reviews—and how can your organization get the highlighted reviews to better reflect their high level of service and commitment?

The ‘why’

Facebook’s system algorithm collects information from a business’s overall review and optimizes based on the reviews it deems “Most Helpful,” i.e. reviews that have the most interaction on them or those that have more likes and comments. The two most helpful reviews are pushed to the Home tab. So, if a one-star review has more interaction, regardless of a business’ overall rating, Facebook might place it front and center on the Home tab of your page.

Not ideal.

As a business striving for positive customer experiences, it makes sense that negative reviews might have more interactions. A customer gives you a five-star review, and you let it speak for itself; no comment necessary. A less-than-stellar review takes some finessing and interaction.

A good business will respond to its negative reviews, but often the disgruntled customer will comment back. So, while the business is doing its due diligence in the customer service department, it’s also increasing the interactions on a negative post and feeding the Facebook algorithm.

The fix

Marketers should not stop responding to negative reviews for the sake of the algorithm, but there are a couple things to keep in mind to ensure that positive reviews are the ones getting the spotlight.

1. Take negativity off the platform.

It’s simple enough. The fewer comments and likes you have on a negative post, the better. Instead of having a long back and forth in the comments about a bad customer experience, take it offline. Have the conversation over messenger, phone or email.

Here’s an example:

“Hi Erin, we are sorry to hear about this. Can you shoot us a DM or email us at We’d love to hear more about what happened and make it right.”

With one comment, Erin feels heard, has a next step and the interaction shows any potential customers browsing your reviews that your brand listens and takes care of your customers.

2. Show your biggest fans some love.

It’s great to limit any public negativity, but equally important, if not more important, is championing the positivity.

“Liking” and commenting on every single positive review will boost your business’s interactions on the right kind of reviews. Remember that when it comes to positive reviews, the more comments, the better.

Here are some ideas:

  • If someone compliments your service, consider asking who his/her server was so you could let the server know. If they loved the food, ask about their favorite dish—and then recommend something else for next time.
  • Explain what went into making such a great product. Share a creative way to use something. Invite them back. Tell a joke. Link to a relevant blog post. Hit them with a GIF.

Questions are good because they encourage conversation, but anything to showcase your brand’s personality and make your supporters feel heard, all while feeding the Facebook algorithm with good things, is the best way to approach social listening and keep the occasional negative review at bay.

And just to give our client’s story a happy ending: A five-star review has rightfully taken the place of the one-star review. Why? It has great back and forth with the original reviewer, a total of nine interactions and a little bump from the Facebook algorithm.

Aiden Guilfoyle works for the Hodges Partnership, a strategic communications firm in Virginia. A version of this article originally appeared on the Gong Blog.

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