Facebook is taking steps to limit, or even remove, questionable traders from its platform with a new initiative that will enable users to rate businesses based on their experiences.
As explained by Facebook:
“We’ve spoken with people who have purchased things from Facebook advertisers, and the two biggest frustrations we’ve heard are that people don’t like ads that quote inaccurate shipping times or that misrepresent products. We’re taking steps to try and identify these and other common frustrations with a new tool launching globally today. It is designed to let people review businesses that they’ve made a purchase from with the hope of connecting more people with businesses that meet their expectations.”
Here’s how it works:
Now, after you’ve clicked on a Facebook ad, you’ll be able to provide feedback about that business via your Ads Activity tab. Users will also be prompted to provide feedback when they’ve clicked through on an ad to make a purchase.
If you choose to leave feedback, you’ll be taken to a brief questionnaire where you can provide insight about your experience with that brand. Based on the specifics provided, Facebook will share the information with the provider, and give them a chance to improve their practices:
“We’ll give them guidance on how to improve customer satisfaction and better meet customer expectations. This could mean setting clear expectations about shipping speed upfront or providing more transparency about return policies. If feedback does not improve over time, we will reduce the amount of ads that particular business can run. This can continue to the point of banning the advertiser.”
The escalation here may seem harsh, but it will enable Facebook to weed out bad actors. As noted by Facebook (in The Wall Street Journal):
“There’s a big difference between a business that’s trying to scam a person and a business that doesn’t know how to provide a great customer experience. We’re trying to differentiate between those two types of companies.”
Some of those scams were actually uncovered in another WSJ report, which outlined how some traders have been flipping cheap products on Facebook at hugely inflated prices. The goods delivered have eventually failed to meet consumer expectations, and these are the traders that Facebook’s targeting with this program. For genuine businesses, the feedback loop will actually provide benefit, helping them to improve areas in their process chain which they may not have been aware were problematic.
The initiative also appears to be linked to the recent Facebook Page ratings system seen in test mode, which we reported on last month.
As you can see here, the new page ratings will be out of ten, and will incorporate more feedback sources, likely including this new measurement. If a Page falls below a certain rating threshold, that’s likely where The Social Network steps in to offer possible solutions, based on issues reported by users.
The impetus behind the new initiative does seem fairly solid, though there is a level of risk that it could be used by competitors to deliberately downvote other Pages and get them restricted. And given that ad bans are in play, that could have significant impacts – in the above screenshot regarding the new Page rating system, it does note that Pages can report unfair ratings, though given the lack of response many brands see from Facebook, that probably doesn’t fill them with a heap of confidence.
Regardless, that issue hasn’t come up yet, and Facebook can only deal with such problems as they arise. Outside of that, the plan to squeeze out questionable traders makes sense, and will help improve Facebook’s reputation as an eCommerce provider – which could become even more important as The Social Network looks to improve its offerings on this front.
The idea is solid, the real-world practice may be somewhat problematic. Only time will tell.