The Big 2018 Change To Facebook Reviews: 5-Star Reviews Became Recommendations

Updated: 2/11/21

A few years ago we saw a big change to Facebook reviews as they moved to a new “recommendation” format and away from the standard 5-star rating.

Updates On Our 2018 Thoughts (more questions) On Facebook Recommendations

Just like any other big change from Facebook or Google, we were left with more questions than answers.  This switch from reviews to recommendations is no different.  Here are some of the things we were watching and trying to understand more about as the weeks and months passed.

1- What would happen with the old reviews?  At some point, all of the reviews will be out of date. If or how long they would stay was not clear.

2 years later: Reviews have been converted to recommendations, but have not disappeared. Some older reviews indicate in the text that they were 5 stars. Others have nothing, just the recommendations. You only see the rating if it was 5 stars.

Facebook recommendation conversions

2- Facebook uses the 5-star rating on many page aspects and as part of other business snippets in posts, will this go away entirely?

2 years later: They are still using the star rating on the reviews page and on search.

On the reviews tab, Facebook still shows an X out of 5 rating based on the ‘opinion of X people.’

Here’s what you see when you click on the ‘information’ icon. No additional transparency here.

what goes into the facebook recommendation rating.
Here’s the ambiguous explanation (or lack thereof) for their formula.

3- Will there be a numeric translation for recommendations?  Will a YES be a 5 and a NO be a 1?  Will they display that 92% of customers recommend this business?  I’d think they would want to simplify the overall experience data somehow.

2 years later: Facebook does not explain any numeric translation and they don’t display the percentage of customers that recommend a business. They do still include the star ratings for a generalize Facebook business search as seen in this search for plumbers.

Facebook recommendation ratings in search

4-  Will Facebook business pages lose their rich snippet stars in the Google search results?  I think this would decrease clicks and traffic for business pages and Facebook overall.

2 years later: Mike Blumenthal has noticed some interesting changes by Facebook regarding rich snippet stars in his 2021 State of Reviews Webinar.

Mike found that the implementation of converting Facebook reviews to recommendations has not been a smooth process on the technical side.

Older reviews that now appear as recommendations are not counted in the on-page review count, yet we still see them in the GatherUp dashboard when retrieved by the API. Sometimes, the review snippets disappear altogether as seen in the screenshots below.

Facebook review snippets

It’s interesting to continue to watch how this plays out since Facebook is still sending Schema information to Google as demonstrated by this Google Search Console screenshot.

I could go on and on at this point, but let’s continue to keep an eye on thing.  The new format has proven challenging in many ways in the short term as the move from a 5-star rating format throws off reporting on reviews for many services and companies. At this point, there doesn’t seem to be many new changes and most businesses have adjusted.

How did Facebook Reviews transition to Facebook Recommendations in 2018?

Here is the pop-up that was displayed on Facebook business pages about the change to ratings at the time.

facebook reviews change

Reviews No, Recommendations Yes

Now, Facebook is all about recommendations.  Consumers wishing to review a business on Facebook are simply asked “Do You Recommend business name?” and answer by clicking “Yes” or “No” (image below). 

Facebook is still showing the previous 5-star ratings the business has and also features content letting you know about the change from reviews to recommendations.

yes or no recommend

Once you click yes or no, you are then prompted to share your reasons for why you do or don’t recommend this business.

facebook reviews

Rich Endorsements Added As Well – But Not For Everyone

In the case of restaurants, bars, and coffee shops, we are also seeing the recommendation process ask you to select “tags” that contributed to you recommending or not recommending that business. As you probably know, GatherUp has long been a supporter of the power of tags. Facebook is calling these Rich Endorsements. Below are the YES tags for a Chick-fil-A location and the NO tags.

YES recommended tags, showing 10 of about 40 options.

facebook tags

NO recommended tags, showing 11 of about 16 options.

It would seem from Facebook’s announcement that  “tags” will expand into other industries as they didn’t note any limitations. So maybe it’s coming soon for other verticals.

When a restaurant recommendation is posted, it displays the “tags” along with it.  Here is my local wine bar that I left a recommendation for.

facebook recommendation

Still Says Reviews, But Recommendations Are Here

In the left side navigation of a Facebook business page, the tab to access this information is still called “Reviews”.  Recommendations are located here now as well.

Below is an example page for Hero Plumbing of their Facebook Reviews page that shows both a YES recommendation and a NO recommendation. 

You will also notice that Facebook has added two tabs for the page visitor to sort reviews by “Most Helpful” and “Most Recent”.  As of now, we still don’t know what the criteria are for the most helpful.

facebook reviews

Supporting Authenticity

An area that just about all review sites can improve on is review spam and fake reviews.  With this update, Facebook announces that authenticity is a priority, and users and Facebook page owners will be able to easily report recommendations for the following reasons:

  • Recommendation not relevant
  • Unfair recommendation
  • Nudity
  • Violence
  • Harassment
  • Suicide or Self-injury
  • Spam
  • Drugs
  • Hate Speech

The process once the recommendation is reported is not clear, but any and all steps towards authentic customer content is a plus at this time.

At the time, the change sent GatherUp in a few directions. Check out our August 2018 webinar where we discussed it in greater detail.

About The Author

Aaron Weiche is the CEO of GatherUp, a customer feedback and online review platform. Aaron is a digital marketing veteran of over 20 years growing digital agencies in executive roles. Aaron helped found MnSearch, is a partner at Local University, speaks internationally on reviews, search marketing, web design and mobile.

One Reply to “The Big 2018 Change To Facebook Reviews: 5-Star Reviews Became Recommendations”

  1. We helped a new business set up their Facebook page. This is since they replaced reviews with recommendations. They have 5 recommendations, however the home page shows only two and says 2 recommendations at the top of the page. If you click See All at the bottom, you see 5. Why?

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