In our last piece I analysed some of the main takeaway points form BrightLocal’s 2022 annual online consumer survey that established the near total reliance consumers have in reading online reviews before contacting businesses. One point in the survey results has stuck with me these past few weeks and I’ve thought it through in great detail. That “Only 7% of consumers say they’re ‘not at all’ suspicious of reviews on Facebook.” Which, in another way means that 93% of consumers are suspicious of Facebook’s ‘reviews’.

Taking that number into account, I thought about the ways that the ‘social network’ has changed since its inception and questioned just how useful it is as a marketing tool for businesses.

Like however many billions who have signed up to Zuckerberg’s platform over the past 17 years, I used to use Facebook a lot. It was a great way to communicate with family and friends who were out of town or overseas; it was a good way to feel remotely connected to those who were far away. I opted out a year ago after questioning my reaction to the shouting matches and hatred that Facebook engenders and the suspicious algorithms that present unhelpful and false information. Leaving was the best thing I’ve done online because I personally found it toxic. I don’t have the time or energy for fighting with strangers about things that aren’t even really that important. Learning that millions of people had their data lifted from Facebook by Cambridge Analytica affirmed any suspicions I already had.

But – what about businesses? Does a social network that is geared to make billions out of advertising actually help businesses who use its services and pay for advertising? In my opinion, no, it doesn’t. Reputationally the platform is compromised and Zuckerberg appears to be more committed to a name change (Meta) that signals the company’s foray into virtual reality. The recent substantial dive in share value suggests the company is on the downturn.

But the telling thing is the overwhelming distrust consumers have in Facebook reviews. If consumers do not trust a platform’s review system or more importantly, the voracity of those reviews, then business owners would be better advised to spend part of their marketing budgets elsewhere.

As the BrightLocal report says, the suspicion of reviews on Facebook goes hand in hand with the overall perception of the platform, itself. “The results for Facebook, on the other hand, flip the script. While the data from the previous question suggests that fewer consumers have seen fake reviews here than on Amazon or Google, an incredible 70% of consumers are already ‘fairly’ or ‘very’ suspicious of fake reviews on Facebook.

What this tells us is that perception doesn’t have to match experience: plenty of consumers might have seen fake reviews on Facebook in the last year, but many more are generally suspicious of the platform and its content, and of what they might see in the future. Conversely, while 50% of users admit they’ve seen fake reviews on Google, fewer feel that they need to be suspicious of Google reviews.” (Source: “Local Consumer Review Survey 2022,” BrightLocal, January 26, 2022).

Just as consumers will buy or hire from businesses they trust, business owners need to ask themselves – do I want to spend my money with a company that has substantial reputation issues that consumers are wary of? I know the answer, It’s pretty simple, really. It’s a big ‘yeah nah’,