Reviews Are Dead! Long Live Reviews – Will Facebook Places Change the Review Landscape?

It is early in the game and folks are just digesting what Facebook Places is all about but I was struck by a Twitter comment by Seb Provencher (@sebprovencher):

With the FB Places launch, we can officially say it: merchant/place reviews are dead. Status updates are the new merchant reviews.

So I asked several folks that followed the announcement closely to provide a more nuanced view of the statement.

From Seb Provencher who had not yet had his first coffee so this opinion is open to revision:

– Status updates (or tweets) are easy to do.
– many people have stopped blogging because doing short-form messages
is so much “easier”, less time-consuming, than a big blog post.
– I think the same thing will happen to long-form merchant reviews.
It’s going to become so much easier to do a quick status update review
using Facebook places (and those will accumulate on the Facebook Place
page) that a lot of people will migrate from doing reviews on Yelp (or
IYPs for that matter) to

For me, Facebook Places is not about “check-ins”. It’s about signaling
socially your location. It’s about structuring a conversation about a
local place and anchoring it to the right place.

From Greg Sterling who responded from his iPad even though it is 6:45 am where he is:

Status updates are not the same or better than reviews in many cases because people won’t offer more than “tips” or sometimes will just create noise: “we’re all here.”

So “try the fries” or the “killer reindeer sausage” doesn’t answer other questions I may have about a place, such as whether it’s good for kids, etc. If FB “aggregates” all this info and does a kind of semantic analysis of it then it may not be as necessary to consult reviews in the future at some point.

It’s also not clear immediately how FB is going to make all this information discoverable. There’s going to be a search component here but the form it takes isn’t yet clear — even to FB.

Seb is probably responding to the mainstream potential/appeal of the product and the idea that people will just write tips or short blurbs rather than reviews.

But reviews will continue to have their place (so to speak) from a consumer perspective. In terms of “references” and SEO that’s going to be an interesting thing to watch here.

Google could access all the API and “Like” button information that is coming out of Facebook equally. And this move puts some pressure on them to “socialize” their own Places I think.

And David Mihm who also is an early riser:

Hyperbole. Ratings are important for a quick look by the consumer who doesn’t want to read through all the garbage. There’s also an actual reviews tab built in by default to FB pages.

Your thoughts?

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
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15 thoughts on “Reviews Are Dead! Long Live Reviews – Will Facebook Places Change the Review Landscape?”

  1. I do think, that Status Updates will work as “the new reviews” in the realm of Facebook very well, because i do trust my friends recommendations.

    I don’t think, that Status Updates from strangers, containing just some adjectives like “super” or “awesome” will help me that much in my need to find out, if a plumber or laundry service is beating others by quality… For that, i do need detailled reviews and i am willing to read them entirely – especially if they are from strangers, knowing the fact, that you can spam any service you like in the web…

  2. I think status updates and reviews will coexist, much as blogs and Twitter coexist.

    The biggest impact of status updates will be the sheer volume of data that is generated and the personal relationships.

    Some of the things that Greg pointed out (e.g. good for kids) can be inferred from the participants. If I see that a place I am considering visiting is regularly frequented by my friends with families, I can infer that it is good for kids. Positive reviews (at the level that a lot of people look at) can be inferred by friends going back to a place regularly.

    There are some friends who I have negative taste relationships with. If I know that they’re regulars somewhere, I know not to go there.

    We built a prototype of this when I was at AOL Search and even with a few users in the system, it worked really well.

    Status updates in the social network also prompt discussions. Even if the original poster doesn’t write a review, it may be followed up by “hey, I was thinking of going there. what did you think of it?”

  3. I think reviews and status updates will coexist and, ultimately, serve different purposes.

    People look for different types of information when evaluating different types of businesses (e.g. going to a bar vs. choosing a plumber). Different types of content are also more impactful at certain points in the buying cycle.

    The coopetition among Google Place Pages / Yelp / Facebook Place Pages is going to be fun to see and will keep the innovation cycle moving at pace.

  4. With regard to FaceBook Places, I don’t think Reviews are dead, nor do I think they are terminally ill. However, much ‘buzz’ (sorry Google) could be raised about businesses that are seen as ‘trendy’ to certain demographics (new business openings, promotions, bars, hotels, events, etc.) who use and monitor FB Places.

    What will be interesting is how well it takes hold and how G responds to this feature introduction.

    Will FB Places primarily used be teens – who are much more socially conscious of what their peers are up to than most?

    That someone is actually ‘at’ a particular business is not as important to me as what they have to say about the business. If I’m looking for a good seafood place and my FB friends are ‘checked in’ at a Japanese restaurant; it’s not really relevant to me.

    However, what FB does with this feature could be pretty cool. If they create a blending of data to a business Like/Places page… sort of a one-stop information hub on who’s there, who likes it, what people say about the place, maps, how to get there, hours of operation, promotions, discounts, videos, photos, etc., that might be good.

    Then G Local Places might be competing in the SERPS with FB Places (I believe FB Like pages are currently indexable).

    Mobile/Local is sure going to get interesting quick.

  5. My understanding is that Facebook Places is about letting your friends know where you are at a particular time: in a restaurant, coffee shop, hotel, etc. Yes you may “review” that business by saying “try the sandwhich” or “don’t use the pool”, but how will that become a permanent business review that stays somewhere posted on the net for others to see, not just your friends. I believe FB Places will be successful among some FB friends, in will increase local search in some circles, but reviews sites are definitely not dead yet.

  6. @Vansci
    At this point, it appears to me that the business information, other than location, is not discoverable. In its initial incarnation it is just a place where friends can meet…but I agree that the way in which Facebook makes this more detailed information visible will to a large extent define how well the product succeeds.

    Certainly in its current, limited scope reviews are not threatened. I think Seb’s point (which I don’t totally agree with) is that at some point these locations will acrue lots and lots of comments and likes and that will be the equivalent of good reviews…

    Currently the base data is coming from Localeze which does allow for bulk uploads. One would hope that that info will regularly flow into the FB page…

  7. @Zac
    Localeze does have a bulk upload and it is expensive


    I am with you BUT and this is a big BUT if those with money and time pollute the reviews in an effort to increase their business AND Google & other review sites do nothing then reviews become useless and “Likes” take on more value.

  8. As I said here, , that Like is the new review. I believe that the authenticity is an issue. Consumers appreciate and want TRUST. Social is the new review. Whether it be via check-in, sharing, liking, or tweeting. Long or short. Search engines are forcing profiles and personalities. This is the new review. The best directory sites will be those that recommend, share, or communicate the trust of doing business in the most effective manner. Those that tap into social media will have a future. Those that can’t or won’t, simply will fail. That is my two cents.

    Great discussion fellas! SUBSCRIBED.


  9. @chris,

    I understand that the short messages won’t stick…. but as profiles and personalities become the norm, your Facebook being tagged to your Google, to your Yahoo, etc., you will see a connection between the short bursts of excitement or dissappointment towards a business… the difference is that it will be instant.

    The real question is:

    How will businesses begin responding to reviews and comments? Since they can finally attach to who did the review, will they respond with resolutions to problems and be held accountable for “doing the most good” or will they continue to ignore reputations and customer service?

    Might be better to discuss this separately.

    Mike Stewart

    p.s. I decided not to attend BIA/Kelsey here in Dallas. Makes sense to save the conference fees for PubCon. If any of you guys want a drink, meet me at the meeting on the 15th….. on me of course!

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