What does the future look like for publishers who distribute content on Facebook?
Oh clickbait, you tempting minx! I vow to avoid you, as your inflammatory headlines never cease to disappoint once I click and read the article, which is embedded in an ocean of similar titles on a web page too clogged up to load in under five minutes on my PC. Yet you keep me coming back, toying with my naïve trust!
There’s one publishing giant that’s making a move to make clickbait obsolete. Facebook has recently announced that they are cracking down on clickbait, making the content that they provide to their users more relevant and enriching, so as to keep its users on their platform for all their needs, including global news. Facebook has altered their algorithm so that headlines which “withhold or distort information” will appear less often, though not completely disappear.
Facebook listed a couple of examples when explaining the type of headlines that would get a reduced number of appearances on News Feeds: “The Dog Barked at the Deliveryman and His Reaction Was Priceless,” and “When She Looked Under Her Couch Cushions and Saw THIS … I Was SHOCKED!” are the type of headlines they are targeting. Facebook has said the algorithm will build on changes it made in June which detect when articles are liked and then quickly thereafter unliked, also targeting clickbait.
The new changes to the algorithm will keep track of websites that are producing lots of this type of content and then reduce the likelihood that users will see stories from that site in their feeds. Bounce rates will also be taken into consideration, flagging pages that have users spending just a moment or two before returning to Facebook.
What does this mean for publishers? Well, if clickbait is your main method of getting traffic to your site, you will need to rethink your strategy. Take the changes to the Facebook algorithm into strong consideration and adjust how you market to your customers, as clickbait just won’t cut it any longer.
Facebook’s algorithm change marks their ethical belief on the type of content that should be provided to users. While some may think limiting the scope of the type of media that users have access to is a negative thing, Facebook is Facebook and is unlikely to back down. Adjusting both the headlines and the quality of your content will be a necessary shift if you want to stay on Facebook’s good side.
One of the key elements will be to reduce bounce rate from your page. How do you do that? The answer is simple: give readers more stuff to look at and read, and make sure it’s quality content. If you go for quantity over quality, you’re bound to have a higher bounce rate and thus be flagged by the Facebook algorithm. Focus on fewer but more engaging articles to help you avoid being blacklisted.
Engagement will also be a key for publishers wishing to stay Facebook friendly. Make sure your content is not only enriching, but also asks the user to participate in some way. Give users things to do on your page and ways to interact: the longer they stay on your page, the better you will fare in with Facebook’s algorithm. Whether that’s done by allowing for comments, embedding short polls and quizzes, or even adding a web-based game to a section of your page, this could pay off big time in the anti-clickbait campaign.
If clickbait is your site’s bread and butter, you may need to go digitally gluten and dairy free. Adjust your marketing appeal and you’ll soon be “liked” by Facebook once again!