Businesses relied heavily on word-of-mouth marketing before the days of Twitter and Facebook. But rather than replace personal recommendations, the global adoption of social media has made word-of-mouth marketing much more prevalent and actionable for businesses.

Today, marketers can monitor, measure, and interact with consumer recommendations. And with more than 1.3 billion members, Facebook is now home to a wealth of data around customers and businesses.

Although members could post about businesses for quite some time, the social network only began allowing members to officially rate them on a five-star scale back in early 2012. At the time, however, those ratings weren’t prominently displayed, making it difficult for businesses leverage positive online reviews. But in November 2013, Facebook put the ratings front and center on Facebook Pages, making them a very important element of your Facebook presence.

While there are obvious benefits to having your rating and reviews prominently displayed on your Page, some admins have found that the feature makes it more difficult for them to effectively manage their presence. Here’s more information about Facebook’s Rating and Reviews feature to help you determine if it’s right for your business.

How Ratings and Reviews Can Help

Many marketers rely on Facebook Likes as a way to gauge interest in and happiness with their business. But while Likes are a popular metric to track, they’re quite ambiguous in nature.

The number of Likes something has can indicate a popular mindset, but not necessarily sentiment. And while comments help to paint a clearer picture, not everyone leaves them, and more importantly, they’re not as easy or fast to digest as a visual rating.

Star ratings not only make it easier for people to discover great businesses, but the feature also encourages more people to rate businesses on the social network. Those posts are then eligible to appear in News Feed where they can help more consumers discover businesses they didn’t know about previously.

Monitoring your ratings and responding to reviews can show your customers that you’re dedicated to social customer care. Earlier this year, Facebook gave Page admins the ability to respond to public reviews as the Page itself.

This has created a lot of opportunity for consistent engagement among businesses and customers. For example, you can respond quickly to negative reviews and resolve issues before they become major pain points. Additionally, you can thank customers for their positive feedback.

How Ratings and Reviews Can Hurt

One of the biggest complaints from businesses regarding the ratings system is that ratings can be left anonymously. When someone adds a rating to your Page, that person can select an audience. So if they add a star rating and select Friends as the audience, then only their friends can see that rating/review. This, in turn, allows for discrepancies between your overall rating and the rating that is visible on your Page.

Your Page’s star rating (which is displayed above your Like count) is the average of all public star ratings that your Page has received. Let’s say that you’ve received 50 five-star ratings but only 10 of those are public. Your displayed average will only consider 10 out of 50, letting any two- or one-star ratings weigh down your average.

As you can see, the overall star rating doesn’t always give visitors an accurate description of what customers think about your business.

How You Can Reduce Discrepancy

Well for starters, only businesses with a defined location have access to star ratings. This means that unless your business has a physical address listed on its Facebook Page you won’t be able to turn on the feature. If you’re a local business and wish to turn off the feature, you can do so by accessing your Settings and unchecking the box next to “Show map, check-ins, and star ratings on the Page.”

That said, if people are unhappy with some element of your business, they’ll find a way to make it known. It’s better that they have a controlled environment in which to vent so you have the opportunity to get involved and turn a skeptic into a loyal customer.

And while you can’t control whether someone leaves a public review or selects a limited audience, you can encourage loyal fans to contribute in other ways.

For example, a quick video testimonial from a happy customer can be uploaded to your Page’s Timeline, where it will be seen by anyone who visits your Page, as well as others through the News Feed. Anyone who engages with this post will only help to increase visibility as it will be shown to their networks as well.

And while it won’t stop haters from hating, it’ll help counteract some of the discrepancy Although it won’t stop haters from hating, it’ll help counteract some of the rating discrepancy.

For more information about Facebook’s rating and review feature, including details on how to turn it on or remove it, visit the Pages With Locations thread in Help Center.