Facebook Takes Steps to Fight Click-Bait

With some simple changes, Facebook takes another step to reward creative marketers who don't attract readers by posting spammy content.

Facebook Takes Steps to Fight Click-Bait

Facebook has announced major changes regarding how the News Feed will operate. The two changes boil down to:

• Reducing Click-Bait

• Increasing True Links’ Exposure

The key to these changes is how Facebook will actually monitor and implement them. When Facebook explains the way they identify something as click-bait, it gives marketers a stronger understanding of how the News Feed operates generally.

Reducing Click-Bait

What is “click-bait”? Facebook defines click-bait as “when a publisher posts a link with a headline that encourages people to click to see more, without telling them much information about what they will see.” Facebook provided a specific example of what they deem as click-bait:

How does Facebook identify click-bait?

This is an important question to social marketers. Understanding how Facebook identifies this type of content gives marketers a clear understanding of how to avoid being penalized.

Facebook will attempt to identify click-bait in two ways:

  1. By looking at how long people spend reading an article away from Facebook – essentially, monitoring bounce rates.
  2. By examining the ratio of people clicking on the content to the number of people engaging with and sharing the content, in order to identify ‘dud’ links.

Why does it matter if Facebook tracks time-on-site?

This is a big step compared to what they’ve done in the past. Aside from the implications of how they view themselves within the internet community (becoming the barometer of “good content”), this also reinforces a concept I had discussed earlier in the year around “original content“.

In a previous study, I had noticed “original content” yielded greater reach and distribution within News Feed. With Facebook announcing this current change regarding monitoring time-on-site, this would suggest that the likelihood of my original content theory may in fact be true. Similarly, it could mean that original content experiences high levels of time-on-site because it is more in line with what users expected and wanted to see when clicking the link, therefore making it more likely to be content that is accurately portrayed by the poster in users’ News Feeds.

Regardless, the takeaway here is clear: people will find greater success by creating unique, valuable content that people actually want to read..

Increasing True Links’ Exposure

What is a “true link”? In the past, Facebook has struggled with how people use links within News Feed. It has always been Facebook’s preference that users actually “use” the link content type, for example, posting a photo with a link in the actual post copy. Here is an example of using a photo with a link in the post copy:

What happens if you still use this tactic?

Facebook specifically says in their announcement that they will “show fewer links shared in captions or status updates.” The message is clear, be sure to use the content type link when posting a link or risk reduced exposure in the News Feed.

How will these changes impact my Page?

If you’re actively engaging in what could arguably be click-baiting activity, you would be well advised to stop.

Immediately.

When Facebook specifically warns against a certain posting behavior, it’s best to stop before you are penalized. Over the years we’ve seen many Pages ignore the warnings and be penalized in the News Feed. This is something to avoid at all costs.

Also, if you’re using photos to distribute your links — you’ll want to reconsider this strategy as well. While some brands have had success with this tactic in the past, it’s not worth the risk.

Take this change as another clear step of Facebook making good on their push to be the source for “good content”. The more blood, sweat, and tears you’re putting into your content, the more Facebook will reward you.

Ask yourself, “Would I take the time to actually read the content I’m publishing? Would I be happy that I had clicked on this link?”

Facebook is demanding content publishers answer with a clear and definitive: “YES” from now on. And the Facebook experience is better for it.

Facebook® is a registered trademark of Facebook, Inc.

Founder, EdgeRank Checker

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