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Facebook Fights Engagement Bait with Latest Algorithm Update

Megan O'Neill

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This morning, Facebook Operations Integrity Speciality Henry Silverman and Engineer Lin Huang shared a News Feed update in the Facebook Newsroom. They announced that Facebook is fighting engagement bait with an algorithm update. What is engagement bait and what does this update mean for you? We’ll explain.

What is engagement bait?

Silverman and Lin write, “People have told us that they dislike spammy posts on Facebook that goad them into interacting with likes, shares, comments and other actions,” posts that Facebook refers to as “engagement bait.” Engagement bait includes posts asking people to LIKE, SHARE, VOTE, TAG a friend, or COMMENT.

Here are a few examples included in the Facebook Newsroom post:

What is the purpose of posts like these? Well, Facebook’s algorithm generally views lots of reactions, shares, and comments as an indicator that posts are getting authentic engagement and give them greater reach in the News Feed. As a result, some Page Admins have encouraged these actions in a less-than-genuine way in order to game the system and get further reach for their posts.

However, Facebook has announced that this week they’ll “begin demoting individual posts from people and Pages that use engagement bait” in order to “reduce the spread of content that is spammy, sensational, or misleading in order to promote more meaningful and authentic conversations on Facebook.”

How might this impact you?

Facebook has reviewed hundreds of thousands of posts in order to train the algorithm to recognize this tactic and penalize posts and pages that use engagement bait to gain reach in the News Feed. “Publishers and other businesses that use engagement bait tactics in their posts should expect their reach on these posts to decrease. Meanwhile, Pages that repeatedly share engagement bait posts will see more significant drops in reach.”

What to do moving forward?

Ultimately, on Facebook your goal should always be to share content that provides a benefit to the viewer, whether it’s to educate, to entertain, or to inspire. So simply stick to this goal, avoid spammy calls to action, and you should be A-OK! Here are a few things to keep in mind as you create content for Facebook:

  • Be authentic: Create content that promotes meaningful conversations on Facebook.
  • Mix it up: Don’t stick to one tactic. Test different things to see what gets the best reach.
  • Don’t spam: Entertain, educate, and inspire instead!

Creating this authentic content that educates, entertains, and inspires will also help you as it’ll lead to committed viewers that proactively seek out your content—something Facebook also recently announced would affect the distribution of content in the News Feed.

This change will focus on intent (people proactively seeking out content by using Search or going directly to a page) and repeat viewership (viewers going back to consume content from the same page week after week). Facebook says, “Engaging videos that not only bring people together, but drive repeat viewership and engagement, will do well in News Feed.”

What’s your take on the latest news from Facebook? Drop a comment below or head over to join the conversation on Facebook!