In the latest Facebook update, the social network is taking a shot at cleaning up spam in the News Feed by targeting pages using dodgy marketing tactics.
In Facebook’s recent statement on the topic of News Feed spam, they explained the following:
Today we are announcing a series of improvements to News Feed to reduce stories that people frequently tell us are spammy and that they don’t want to see. Many of these stories are published by Pages that deliberately try and game the News Feed to get more distribution than they normally would.
First, before you get nervous, your page probably won’t see any negative changes, especially if you’ve been genuine in your marketing efforts. In fact, you could see a small boost in your page metrics, since this crackdown will free space in the News Feed.
Facebook went on to explain the three areas they’ll be cracking down on.
- Like Baiting
- Frequently Circulated Content
- Spammy Links
Let’s dive into more detail about what content this list is referring to…
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Like baiting refers to page updates that explicitly request fans to like, comment, and share in order to artificially increase the reach of that update. In other words, updates that request a specific action(s) often show up higher in the news feed, even if the content is less relevant.
According to Facebook, surveyed users said like-baiting stories are “15% less relevant than other stories with a comparable number of likes, comments and shares”.
Facebook has vowed to target these like-baiting updates and prevent them from gaining prominence in news feeds.
Key takeaway for businesses: Encouraging conversation and activity is recommended, but avoid explicitly asking fans to take actions on your updates. That might mean going back to third-party apps for contests is the best idea, rather than asking people to “Like and comment to win!”.
Frequently Circulated Content
Facebook didn’t provide much detail in this area.
They only briefly described the problem on their blog, saying “People and Pages on Facebook frequently reshare great content, but people tell us there are occasionally instances where photos or videos are uploaded to Facebook over and over again.” Facebook stated that pages using this tactic will have their content de-emphasized.
Key takeaway for businesses: Original content always wins. You should be creating original, unique content anyway, but this is added incentive to stay away from re-sharing content just because it seems popular among Facebook users.
Oh, just your standard spam issue that’s been with the Internet forever! With this update, Facebook will be targeting pages whose updates have “inaccurate language or formatting”, which tricks people into clicking bad links.
Early testing by Facebook showed “a 5% increase in people on Facebook clicking on links that take them off of Facebook.” Facebook users being more comfortable clicking links is a great sign for page owners who are trying to drive visitors to their external websites.
Key takeaway for businesses: Obviously don’t use deception to get people to click your links. Not only will it drive people away from your business in the long run, but it will also now get your Facebook page penalized.
How Your Page Can Avoid Being Penalized
To summarize, you can avoid running into trouble with Facebook by:
- Encouraging conversation without explicitly asking fans to take a specific action such as like, comment, or share.
- Creating original, unique content whenever possible and avoiding re-shared content solely because it seems popular among Facebook users.
- Be transparent, truthful, and honest in your marketing. That principle applies to all marketing, whether on Facebook or not.
Over the past 6-8 months, Facebook has drastically changed the way business pages are treated and there has been no shortage of challenges for page administrators and marketers.
However, even through all the changes, the core principles remain the same: deliver genuinely great content, provide value to your fans, be consistent, and stop chasing Likes and reach solely for the sake of increasing the two metrics.
If you stick to this model, your page will perform just fine!