Facebook’s Newsfeed changes to combat ‘Click-Baiting’

Facebook has made two new updates to the algorithm that dictates what displays in users’ newsfeeds which is designed to punish those Pages that use ‘click-bait’ in the headlines and text of their posts. They are also making changes which will impact the visibility of posts that contain links based on the post type that is used.

Click Bait Headlines

A click-bait headline is described by Facebook as a headline that doesn’t provide sufficient information about what the user is clicking through to see. In many marketing circles this is also known as curiosity clicks. While it can generate a very high click-through rate they don’t typically result in conversions or creating long-term customers / readers for the website.

“Click-baiting” is 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. Posts like these tend to get a lot of clicks, which means that these posts get shown to more people, and get shown higher up in News Feed.

This is a very popular technique on Facebook, particularly by content sites to get users to click through to the site to find out the answer to a question or see a picture, like in the sample shown below. This high click-through rate is an indicator to the Newsfeed algorithm that it is content that people are interested in and, therefore, is shown to a larger number of people.

lifestyle

In order to determine what posts are ‘click-bait’ Facebook will be using a few new measurements that they believe indicate whether or not users are truly interested in the content. This includes the amount of time away from Facebook (how long the user is spending reading the article and visiting that website) as well as the volume of Likes and Shares that the post receives from users who have clicked over to the article.

Sharing Links in Posts

Facebook is also making additional changes to what posts are shown based on the type of post. This is not the first time that Facebook has announced this change. Back in January Facebook announced that the best way to share a link was within a ‘link post’, rather than including a link in a status update or the text associated with a picture post. Their comment below is almost verbatim of what they had said six months ago.

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.

According to Facebook’s post, links that are posted in the Link format (rather than with an image or status update) receive twice as many clicks. While we don’t see quite this same data when looking at post types from our Facebook pages it is certainly worth more testing, particularly if posts that contain links in post types other than Link Posts are going to be shown to less users in the future.

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