Poor business reviews? Facebook may cull your advertising

Octos founder and CEO Nital Shah
By Octos founder and CEO Nital Shah | 6 August 2018
Nital Shah

In the wake of massive privacy lapses that saw 14 million Facebook users’ privacy settings switched to public earlier this year, Facebook is determined to bounce back into our good books. The social media giant is doing its utmost to cater to its everyday audience, and part of this recent push includes improving the experiences of those who use Facebook to purchase goods and services.

As an average user, you can now leave feedback on Facebook ads that you’ve recently engaged with and submit your thoughts to the Facebook team via a questionnaire. Consequently, any business that receives a large volume of negative feedback risks having their ads reduced or even banned by Facebook. So, what does the average Facebook user have to do to leave feedback on a business ad, and how will this new policy affect the way that businesses currently advertise?

What’s new?

This new tool can be found by clicking on the ‘Recent Ad Activity’ tab, found under the ‘Explore’ subheading on the left-hand side on an individual’s Facebook wall. Recent Ad Activity shows a user all the advertisements that they have recently interacted with in one location. The user is then given the opportunity to leave feedback on the advertisement, as well as the chance to save and review it again at a later date. Leaving feedback allows you to express whether you were satisfied, neutral or dissatisfied with the advertisement, before you complete a short questionnaire that asks you to elaborate on why your experience left you feeling this way.

Facebook says that they will then reach out to businesses who “receive high volumes of negative feedback” on their advertisements and pass on this feedback to the business itself. When Facebook contacts a business in regard to substantial negative feedback, they will be simultaneously offering guidance on how to the business can better meet the expectations of its customers. After giving the business a grace period in which to improve its reviews, Facebook will decide whether further action needs to be taken.

What exactly constitutes a ‘high volume’ of negative feedback is not quantified in the press release. It’s fair to assume that Facebook is using an algorithm to determine how much negative feedback is indeed, too much for each individual business. The introduction of this new tool has come about as more people begin to purchase goods and services via Facebook advertisements, and have been left feeling unhappy with their experience. Facebook has found that major frustrations included dissatisfaction with levels of customer service, advertisements with inaccurate shipping times and advertisements that misrepresented a product in some way.

While the social media platform had Community Guidelines and an advertising policy in place hitherto, there was no way for users to report on what they had encountered after they had clicked a Facebook ad and were sent to the business website or app until now.

What does this mean for businesses?

This new tool will obviously benefit customers, but what implications does this have for businesses?

Understandably, this announcement left many businesses concerned about how much power this tool will give to those who leave false bad reviews. Currently, you can report reviews left on your business page that you believe to be fake. Facebook will then review your report to see if there are grounds for deleting the review. However, there is no equivalent procedure in place (as of yet) for reporting would-be fake feedback left via this new tool. The concept of people launching full-blown, baseless vendettas against businesses for no reason does seem both extreme and rare. Yet, we cannot afford to dismiss this concern entirely. The fake review business is booming and we tend to pay more attention to negative reviews over positive ones (no matter how dubious they may be).

On a positive note, this new tool will hold businesses to a high standard when they advertise on Facebook. Companies who remain dedicated to providing accurate information and quality customer service via their social media campaigns have nothing to fear. If these new rules work as Facebook intends, scammers and businesses that misrepresent information like shipping times, return policies and product components will be penalised – giving their superior competitors more room to grow. In time, as Facebook users become more aware of this feature and begin to consistently engage with it, a business whose ads appear frequently made be perceived as more credible. Their ads wouldn’t be permitted on Facebook if they didn’t keep their customers happy, right?

We may see an increase in companies calling on outside expertise for curated Facebook campaigns. Young businesses searching for up-to-date marketing tips or even just cautious companies that are apprehensive about these new rules may feel more comfortable outsourcing their social media advertisements, now that there are addition repercussions to making rookie errors.

But wait - there’s more.

June was certainly a busy month for Facebook. In addition to this feedback feature, Facebook also introduced the ‘Info & Ads’ section. This tool allows any user to view all of the ads a business is currently running on the platform, boosting levels of market transparency like never before.

To counteract the bad press garnered from the relatively privacy leaks and the lingering controversy over the platform’s involvement in the 2016 US Presidential election, Facebook seems to be making push for higher standards whilst further prioritising the user experience. The full effects of these new rules remain to be seen. However, from this early viewpoint it is likely that these regulations will prove to be beneficial for both the user and the businesses who cater to them.

By Octos founder and CEO Nital Shah

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