From reviews on Yelp to food pictures on Instagram, social media plays a big part in restaurant marketing in the digital age. While Facebook is no stranger to restaurant marketing, a new service their testing may change the restaurant marketing paradigm. According to media reports, Facebook is experimenting with a new service that would let restaurants show reviews from certain expert review sites. Though early in the testing face, this plan could benefit business owners and change the way people think about reviews online.
Last week, Facebook began a test where some business pages will be able to show content from professional reviewers on their page. So if a restaurant had a five-star review from one of the content partners, there would be a small display with a link to the full article.
Facebook is partnering with Bon Appetit, Conde Nast Traveler, Eater, New York Magazine and the San Francisco Chronicle to link professional content with a selected group of restaurants in the United States. Within the display, there will be s a summary of the critics review and a link to the main site.
This plan could become a real challenge to services like Yelp and Google Reviews that rely on user-generated content. User-generated content can be a blessing and a bane for marketers. As has been discussed in previous articles, consumers trust the reviews they see online, even though they know many of them are fake or biased. Being able to quickly build trust with potential customers by having a few online reviews is a benefit to business owners and marketers.
On the other hand, while happy customers are more likely to show their appreciation with return business than by taking the time to leave good reviews, dissatisfied customers are all too happy to leave negative feedback. On sites like Yelp and Google Reviews, where algorithms are used to determine the authenticity of reviews, this leads to a situation where many good reviews are filtered out but negative ones seemingly go unchecked.
Facebook’s experiment with more professional content can serve as a counterbalance to the user-generated content that could be biased in one way or another. It would work both ways. A restaurant that had some unfair negative reviews can have the benefit of having a professional review laud their finer points. However, a place that has managed to get a lot of positive reviews but is actually only mediocre could be disadvantaged by more honest reviews. Of course, since the system would be opt-in (like all reviews on Facebook Business Pages), business owners would be able to decide what’s best for them.
The idea is likely to be a hit with consumers as well. Normally, you would go to social media for a fan-written review and then go to a news source for a professional review. If Facebook can provide a platform where people can get both review sources in one place, they could steal some market share from Yelp.
Whatever their reasons, Facebook’s experiment with expert reviews can change the way people use social media to learn about restaurants. For more Facebook marketing information, read this article on a study that found Facebook to be the most important platform for small businesses.