Drawing the line on “Engagement Baiting”

It’s no secret that 2017 was a huge year of innovation for social media. Facebook, in particular, has seen substantial expansion with the Social Media giant recently announcing 76% growth year-on-year for Q3.

Despite the ongoing success of the platform and its addictive news feed algorithm, balancing the demand for advertising space and platform growth without negatively impacting on the authentic user experience was the main focal point for the company in 2017. CEO Mark Zuckerberg provided some insight into these plans during a post towards the end of 2016 when touching on the News Feed’s 10th Birthday; “We’ve made some changes to the News Feed algorithm, and we’re constantly trying to get a better understanding of what our community finds valuable and what it doesn’t.”

One of these recent changes revealed earlier last month is a plan to fight “Engagement Baiting”. So what is Engagement Baiting and how will these changes impact on your user experience?

In a recent news release, Facebook explained that based on recent user feedback the platform is putting changes in place to reduce posts trying to compel users to interact with them. Anyone who has experienced Facebook before will be familiar with News Feed posts that use “LIKE this if you LOVE FOOTBALL” or “SHARE to WIN” (we’ve included a few snapshots below to jog your memory). Posts such as these are designed to manipulate the Facebook algorithm by generating high levels of engagement with ‘artificial’ content or clickbait leading to the posts being boosted in the feed.

Providing more authentic engagement for its users was revealed by Facebook as the main motivator for the changes; “we want to reduce the spread of content that is spammy, sensational, or misleading in order to promote more meaningful and authentic conversations on Facebook”. A machine learning model has been created that will associate certain triggers with engagement-baiting posts that will then be demoted.

Certain post types won’t be impacted by the updates, including “Posts that ask people for help, advice, or recommendations, such as circulating a missing child report, raising money for a cause, or asking for travel tips”.

Facebook also warned that stricter algorithm rules will come into play throughout December and January – including tougher regulations for pages that are repeat engagement baiting offenders – giving publishers time to adapt their posts and interactions moving forward. If you’re unsure about your current strategy, take some time to read through Facebooks News Feed Publisher Guidelines or touch base with our Social Media team for an audit of your account.

What do you think about the newest changes? We’d love to hear your thoughts! For more information on Facebook marketing please contact us, we love to chat!

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