Facebook News Feed Changes: More Efforts to control Bait-and-Switch

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Facebook is not sitting around idle with their 2nd Quarter successes!

The attack on “baiting”, “spam”, and more in the News Feed continues.

On August 25, another Facebook News Feed change was announced that targets “click-baiting.”  This follows-up on the April 10 Facebook change that targeted “Like-baiting”.

What does the Facebook News Feed Change Involve?

Facebook is announcing the pursuit and war against attempts to entice clicks through headlines that are misleading.

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Like the image above, the “Click to find out…” is being viewed by Facebook as poor quality and bad for user experience.  How do they determine this?

According to Facebook…

“One way is to look at how long people spend reading an article away from Facebook… If they click through to a link and then come straight back to Facebook, it suggests that they didn’t find something that they wanted. With this update we will start taking into account whether people tend to spend time away from Facebook after clicking a link, or whether they tend to come straight back to News Feed when we rank stories with links in them.

Another factor we will use to try and show fewer of these types of stories is to look at the ratio of people clicking on the content compared to people discussing and sharing it with their friends. If a lot of people click on the link, but relatively few people click Like, or comment on the story when they return to Facebook, this also suggests that people didn’t click through to something that was valuable to them.”

In short, Facebook is monitoring “click and bail” rates, much like a web page where you monitor if the “time on page” is low and if the user left directly from that page they entered on.

Facebook is also looking at what I’ll call the “Shock and bail” approach.  This is the attempt to “shock” the viewer into clicking to see what it’s about but immediately disappointing them with the what’s on the other side.  It’s an attempt at gaming.

I’ve got a number of large publishers in mind immediately who this refers to, how about you??

Link Sharing Update: An Important Note From Facebook

In my opinion this is the MOST IMPORTANT aspect of their update!

Formerly, we used to recommend Pages upload a Photo to Facebook, add a description, and then paste the link to the tab or web page in as well.

In essence, this was a Photo post with a link embedded in the description.

Facebook says don’t do this anymore!

Here’s an example of what Facebook says not to do any longer….

A photo uploaded, with description and link to click…

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Facebook had the following to say:

“With this update, we will prioritize showing links in the link-format, and show fewer links shared in captions or status updates.

The best way to share a link after these updates will be to use the link format. In our studies, these posts have received twice as many clicks compared to links embedded in photo captions. “

Facebook has tried to address this in the past but this appears to be a next-level effort to force a change in user behavior.

They do not want you to use a photo for sharing a link!

NOTE: The new Facebook “Save” feature requires a link in order to save the article, so it makes sense from a perspective of allowing users to “save” a article to read later in addition to what is outlined by Facebook in terms of their tracking data revealing clicks are higher on link posts.

What does it mean for Facebook Marketers?

Just like Google has made changes to stay ahead of those that are trying to “game” the system, Facebook is similarly pursuing means to let authentic, quality content rule in the News Feed.

  • Expect more changes to come!

Because just like search rankings on Google, there are those that try to game the system.  So Facebook will make changes to combat that.  It’s actually a good thing. It rewards those who are putting forth quality, above-board efforts.

  • Review your content and your posting practices.

The goal is to engage fans but do it in an authentic way!  As well, if you have been posting photos to Facebook and adding the link in the description caption, it’s time to move on past that!

  • Keep it classy!

In doing so, you’ll be in good standing with Facebook and will not experience any “hits” from the change.  Simply make efforts to stay true and not get involved in “baiting”.

  • Your Blog Content Matters!

Since Facebook wants links to valid, quality resources, and since Facebook displays link images at a large, visually appealing size in the news feed, then it makes sense for your team to focus on good content and great images in your content!   Images in your content will increasingly impact the way your post is viewed on Facebook.

Great images in your link share, great visual impact on Facebook!

That’s my initial take on the Facebook change.  What do you think?

About Mike Gingerich

Author: Mike Gingerich, TabSite Co-Founder. Facebook and Social Marketer. Part geek, part marketer, total social media junkie. Mike is a writer and speaker, having presented at Social Media Week Lima, Social Media Camp (Canada) and more. He is a regular contributor to Social Media Examiner and Business2Community. Mike is a marketing, social media, and internet enthusiast with 10+ years experience building apps, consulting, and training businesses with winning integrated web and Social Media Strategies. Mike loves deploying tactics to increase awareness, sales, and maximize ROI in both B2B and B2C markets via digital media.