As a good marketer, you’ve probably created your Facebook content around the understanding that generating “likes” are good for a post, but comments carry the most weight in the ever-shrinking organic reach algorithm (the formula that determines what content you see in your news feed and what gets left out). We abide by these principles on our pages, too, and have invested a considerable amount of time crafting and curating content to maximize our page.
So when Facebook recently announced another change to their News Feed algorithm, I was not expecting good news. Well, there was at least some.
The good news:
If you haven’t posted with the intention of tricking people to clicking a link in your post to get visitors to your page, then this probably won’t affect you much. It may even weed out some competition in the feed.
The bad news:
Unless you’re familiar with Facebook best practices when posting, you may inadvertently be posting in a way that will give your content less priority in the News Feed.
Here's what's new: Facebook is Cracking Down on "Click-Baiting"
Chances are you’ve encountered this in your own feed. You read an interesting headline, with a fascinating picture. When you click on the post, you’re taken to an article or site that has nothing to do with the headline topic. Or worse, they’re trying to sell you something.
“Click-baiting” is posting with a sensationalized headline that requires the reader to click to read more, without giving any real information about what they’re going to see. Users have been complaining to Facebook, reporting these posts as spam, and expressing that they don’t want them in their feed.
(think “You Won’t Believe What They Did” or “This Changed My Life.”)
This is great news for the reader. But as a page administrator, it creates a bit of gray area. Our job as marketers is to craft a headline that stimulates curiosity, promotes click-throughs and, dare we say, hopefully goes viral.
So, what does Facebook consider click-bait, and how do you avoid getting penalized for it?
The important thing to know is that this implementation is not just headline filtering. There’s a complex algorithm to how click-baiting is determined.
One metric is read time. Facebook now times the duration between when a user clicks on the link and when they return to Facebook. If many users click on a link and immediately return to Facebook, there’s a disconnect - the story probably didn’t deliver content consistent with its headline.
Another metric being used is engagement. Facebook tracks how many readers click on a link without commenting, sharing or liking it. A lack of engagement indicates that the content may be weak.
This is not really a new concept on Facebook. Many posts even incorporate a call to action that encourages the reader to “Comment”, “Like” or “Share” the post to increase organic reach. I’ll admit we’ve used this practice ourselves at times.
Here’s why we won’t be doing that anymore. "Facebook is Penalizing Posts for “Like-Baiting.”
This is when a post explicitly asks the reader to Like, Comment or Share a post in order to gain additional distribution in the news feed. Although like-baiting posts do increase engagement, according to Facebook, these types of posts are 15% less relevant than other stories with a comparable number of likes, comments, and shares. Facebook defends this new policy in order to include “more relevant and valuable content in the news feed.”
“This update will not impact Pages that are genuinely trying to encourage discussion among their fans, and focuses initially on Pages that frequently post explicitly asking for Likes, Comments and Shares,” Facebook explains.
What can you do to maximize your Facebook page?
Continue to focus on content that is relevant and interesting to your audience. Include information that people find useful and easy to share, such as contests, tips, infographics and video. You can still encourage discussion about your posts’ content, but avoid openly asking for likes or shares. We’ve found the best way to do this is by asking an open-ended question at the end of the post that keeps the conversation going.
I’d love to hear how you are navigating these changes on your page. Do you think they will have a big impact on your engagement? Join the conversation on one of our social media sites: