Why Facebook is Cracking Down on Clickbait?

Sep 9, 2014

Social media giant Facebook recently launched a campaign to reduce the volume of click-baiting posts that appear in users’ News Feeds. According to Facebook, a new algorithm update is aimed squarely at reducing the number of clickbait posts, allowing users to see more of the type of posts that they prefer.

Exactly What is Clickbait?
facebook clickbaitClickbait involves the use of a tabloid magazine-type of shock headline that entices readers to click through to see what the post is all about. The headline frequently has little if anything to do with the actual post – its sole purpose is to generate clicks no matter what type of outrageous claim has to be made.

Not surprisingly, clickbait headlines usually get a lot of clicks; people just can’t seem to resist the temptation to read about how Elvis Presley was spotted driving a taxicab in Kansas City. The real problem is that the more times the clickbait headline is clicked, the higher it shows up in News Feed and the further down the more legitimate posts get pushed.

  • A study conducted by Facebook has shown that 80 percent of users prefer headlines that give them sufficient information to make up their own minds about whether they want to click through to read the entire story.
  • Facebook’s concern is that clickbait headlines will dominate users’ News Feeds to the extent that legitimate content such as favorite pages and posts from friends will eventually be buried.

How the New Facebook Algorithm Works

  • Facebook will attempt to identify clickbait by tracking the amount of time spent reading content that was linked from a user’s page. The underlying methodology is similar to Google’s measurement of a site’s bounce rate; the more time a Facebook user spends reading an article, the more valuable it is believed to be.
  • Another analytic that Facebook will measure is the ratio of comments and shares to the number of users who are clicking on the content. A high volume of clicks without a corresponding amount of engagement is a pretty fair indicator that users found little value in the content.

How Facebook’s Algorithm Changes Affect Your Business
According to Facebook research, users prefer to click links that are shared as link posts rather than image posts that contain a link in the image caption; the format of a link post allows users to make a more informed decision as to whether they want to click on a link. Facebook’s new algorithm will give preferential treatment to link post-formatted links, which receive twice the number of clicks that image posts do.

While the use of a catchy headline is still the best way to attract users to your post, don’t fall into the clickbait trap. Your headline needs to provide users with enough information to convince them that your post is relevant and worth taking the time to click through and read. As long as you keep this in mind, your reach should be unaffected by Facebook’s algorithm update; you might even experience a bump in your reach metrics as the clickbait posts begin to drop off.