Hook, Line and Sinker: Facebook Propose Anti-Clickbait Changes

26 Aug 2014

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“**Spoiler Alert!** You won’t believe what happens next?!” Oh I’m pretty sure I can guess - I’m going to ignore you and your spoof headline in favour of real news with real substance, thank you very much!

Newsfeed spam is nothing new and if you’re as bored as I am with it, then you probably just ignore it without a second thought. But maybe it’s time to give some thought; how it affects the content in your newsfeed and how that might affect your engagement with friends and Pages.

Clickbaiting Crackdown

80 percent of Facebook users surveyed have given it some serious thought and decided that they want less baited headlines and better content and they want it now! Following these quite reasonable demands and the very real competition for user attention, Facebook announced yesterday that it would be rolling out new updates in favour of content users actually care about through changes to edge rank.

The updates will look to reduce clickbait in newsfeeds by helping users distinguish between clickbait articles and real news stories. And how on earth are they going decide this you ask? Facebook plan to closely observe user behaviour that suggests the value of a news story and act accordingly. They will observe the time you spend reading an article before returning to Facebook and also look into the number of people clicking on a link versus those discussing and sharing it.

Currently Facebook is testing a new satirical feature that marks clickbait articles with the tag ‘satire’. This tag will appear as text in front of links to satirical articles, in the related articles section of your newsfeed. The idea is, that if users are immediately returning to Facebook following a headline click through, that the page does not hold any value (clickbait) and will be penalised.

What Really Happens Next?

With testing now underway, users won’t be seeing their newsfeeds undergoing an immediate virtual reality makeover (sorry). However, companies will start to see changes; potential reductions in the number of clicks and user interactions, based on how users are interpreting the value of the content.

To counter this potential downfall for companies not trying to lure users in, they will need to re-evaluate their social business strategy. If Facebook is the primary social media traffic driver of choice, the value creation strategy –online behaviours, processes and plans – will need to be revised.

A little social tip to help get you started - as far as Facebook is concerned, the best way forward is to create headlines that provide users with a full understanding of what they are about to read and to provide text links, rather than photo caption links. Or face the wrath of Facebook!