Facebook Reduces Click Bait

When it comes to Facebook, the term “organic reach” refers to the percentage of your followers who will see something you post in their feed.  In what many commentators have suggested was an attempt to encourage people (or at least companies) to pay to “promote” their posts, Facebook has, in recent months, reduced the organic reach of a post to as little as 5%.

That means that if 100 people follow your page, only 5 of them will see something you post, unless you pay to “boost” that post in their feed.  Unsurprisingly, they came under a lot of fire for this as people suddenly stopped seeing the content of pages or people they followed.

Even as the furore died down somewhat, Facebook implemented a new change to their News Feed to “help people find the posts and links from publishers that are most interesting and relevant.”

According to Facebook of course.

Click Bait Reduction

At the end of last month, Facebook announced that they were improving their feed to automatically exclude posts that their algorithm flagged as “click bait.”  For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, click-bait refers to potentially misleading headlines (or post intro’s) that encourage you to click on a link, but don’t (necessarily) contain the information you wanted or were looking for, or that they claimed to offer.

Facebook carried out a survey, and according to the results, they found that the large majority (80%) preferred headlines that told them whether they would be interested before they clicked.

The next thing they did was look at how long people spent on the pages they clicked through to, before going back to Facebook, on the premise that the longer they stayed away after clicking, the more likely that link was to have been relevant to them. (Solid enough reasoning on the whole.)

Facebook claims to be concerned that click bait (usually posted largely for the sole purpose of generating website traffic) would drown out content from friends and pages that people wanted to see.

As a result, they will be showing less posts that they think might be click-bait in people’s feeds, based on how long people spend on the new page after clicking, and on the ratio of comments/likes to clicks.

Facebook Link Posts

At the same time, they made an update to the way that they treat posts with links in them, which can be done in the standard link format, (by sharing a link) which then provides an image and a short description of the page, as well as the link, or by typing (or pasting) the link into a picture caption.

Facebook has found that the link format is preferred by the majority of users, and is also easier for mobile users to click on.  As a result, they have announced that they will be prioritising link format posts over posts which share the link by including it in a photo caption.

Will It Affect You?

According to Facebook, this should only affect a small percentage of publishers who frequently post click-bait links, or links in photo captions instead of the suggested link sharing format.  In practice, people are concerned that Facebook could be reducing their reach even more, by excluding posts that it thinks meet these criteria from the feeds of followers.

Which will it be?  Well, we’ll have to wait and see.