Will Facebook Reviews Gain Relevance in 2016?

Here’s a little food for thought as you head into the end of the year: What if Facebook decided to take on Yelp and Google?

Right now, Google and services like Yelp “own” the online review space across the U.S. More specifically for attorneys, lawyer directories serve a valuable role in the evaluation stage of their search. But there’s simply no denying that Facebook has a lot of muscle when it comes to business reviews and ratings, and it looks like they’re starting to flex it.

Just in the past month, several sources have drawn attention to www.facebook.com/services – a new search tool that offers local results and ratings for businesses. In spirit, it’s very similar to any other business directory you’ve ever seen. And while the tool itself is a bit half-baked at this time, there are a few noteworthy things to consider for your business: 

  1. It’s Desktop-only. (For now.)
    As of this writing, the site only works on desktop browsers. But Facebook updates their mobile app on a weekly basis and certain tools (like Facebook Messenger) have been split into discrete apps in the past. So while the future of this service remains unknown, mobile availability seems to be a reasonable assumption.
  2. The search is separated by practice area … sort of.
    Type “Lawyer” into the tool’s drop-down box and you’ll quickly see that suggested searches for “Bankruptcy Lawyer” and “Copyright Lawyers” are available. This segmentation is far from complete, but it’s nice to see some attempt to help guide users towards the results that will be most useful to them.
  3. The results don’t appear to be ranked.
    Running a search for “Criminal Lawyers” in St. Paul with multiple accounts yielded obviously different results. In fact, the first two searches I performed had attorneys in the #1 position with absolutely zero reviews or ratings. For now, it looks like geography might play a bigger role than reputation, but don’t expect that to last if this service gets the full treatment.
  4. You don’t have to be logged-in to use it.
    Oddly (for Facebook) this service is fully functional for anonymous users. Of course, you’re encouraged to log-in to connect with the businesses you’ve found, but it’s not required. Their full contact details are right there for users to find. Which is simply another reminder to take stock of your online accounts and make sure they’re consistent.

Now, there’s no need to take swift action for your law firm. The future of this new tool is very unclear at this time.

But if this sneak peek into a possible future makes you think about what you’re getting (or not getting) out of social media, it’s probably time to download Legal Marketing 103: Beyond A Basic Website today. This digital playbook offers a quick survey course in social media, blogging and attorney videos – all for free. Download your copy today.

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