There’s a really helpful research piece recently released by US Agency GO Digital, looking at a number of aspects of increasing sales through Facebook – we’ve put a link in at the bottom of this post and recommend that everyone running a local business (restaurant, shop, hotel etc) take a look through it.

But there’s one finding that REALLY stood out for us. The number one thing that potential customers want from you on Facebook, in order to help them decide to buy. It’s not zany, amazing content. It’s not having a huge army of Likers.

What’s the most important thing about a Facebook Page for your customers?

It’s customer reviews.

Why? Before a customer has experienced what you offer, they don’t really trust you. They’d quite like to believe what you’re telling them about your amazingly comfortable rooms or your incredible cocktails, but, well, you would say that, wouldn’t you.

They need to hear it from others who don’t have anything to gain or lose from their buying decision.

When you think about it, this makes perfect sense. Consumers are constantly looking to increase the amount of information they have access to before they make a decision, even a relatively small one like where to eat out at the weekend.

They can get your opening times from your website (we hope!). They might find your insights into the business helpful, and they’d certainly love a special offer or two. But the one thing they really want to know is, am I going to like this. And often the only way to predict that is to see who else likes it, too.

Get those comments rolling in

So every Page in the Local Business category automatically gets a Reviews box, whether they like it or not (and plenty don’t). Unless you’re doing a terrible job at what you do and manage to really upset a customer, though, it’s unlikely to get a huge amount of use. You need to encourage customers to use it.

There are lots of ways of doing that, but they mainly fall into two categories: incentives, and opportunism.

Incentives are easy: you offer a small gift, preferably one which is more valuable to the customer than it is costly to you, in return for them reviewing you. So for a restaurant, you might offer a free glass of wine on their next visit. A hotel could offer a room upgrade if there’s availability, to their most active reviewers. And so on.

Opportunism requires a little more thought, and is all about timing:  giving the customer something to do in “dead” time.  The last thing you want to do is rely on a customer remembering to go to your Facebook page and give a review once they’ve finished interacting with you; unless their experience is extraordinarily, life changingly good or bad they are generally going to forget about you as they walk out the door, or at least by the time they get home.

Most people these days will have a smart phone on them, most of the time. So, if you’re a restaurant, why not give them a small card with a QR code leading to your Facebook page, and a request to review their experience, while they are waiting for the bill? Likewise in a hotel reception, have a big banner next to where people queue for checkout, or put cards on the nightstands. This alone should lead to a big increase in reviews, and coupled with an incentive will skyrocket them!

So, there’s how to make sure that any potential customer visiting your Page has access to exactly what they want in order to make a buying decision. The rest of the research is below, and there are plenty more gems in there too!