Facebook Newsfeed Update Penalizes Click-Bait, Favors Link-Posts

Today, many of our users asked us how Facebook’s recent changes to the Newsfeed algorithm will affect their pages’ reach. So here’s our take on yesterdays news!

1. Penalisation of “Click-Baiting”

The primary, more obvious change is the announced penalisation of “click-baiting” content. This means that links or posts that encourage people to click & read more, but ultimately offer no or disappointing content on the promised headline, will receive less distribution and traffic from Facebook newsfeed.

clickbait

Popular examples of “click-baiting” sites include BuzzFeed or german Heftig (pictured above). Decreasing the reach of low quality, click-bait content is widely received as good news: most users are not genuinely interested in the these posts, and reducing there reach in Newsfeed should free up distribution for legit brands, like our clients! 🙂

Facebook announced that it will try to identify click-bait automatically, by looking at the clicks-to-share/comment ratio and by analyzing how long people actually look at the story, once they clicked it. It remains to bee seen how effective this automatic algorithms turn out, but as stated above both users and brands should be happy with any improvement!

2. Penalisation of “Click-Baiting”

The second change announced this week is about sharing links in posts.  Since Facebook started to display link-posts with a visually much larger preview image, link-posts have quickly become best practice for posts which are meant to drive traffic to an external website. Many publishers nonetheless still use post photos or text-updates with embedded links to achieve these goals (the screenshot below shows the difference between the two ways of posting links to Facebook using Swat.io).

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According to Facebook, people seem to prefer “real” link-posts  and more happily click on these stories. In consequence, Facebook announced to be boosting organic reach Newsfeed of link-posts over photo-/text-posts with embedded links:

We’ve found that people often prefer to click on links that are displayed in the link format (which appears when you paste a link while drafting a post), rather than links that are buried in photo captions. The link format shows some additional information associated with the link, such as the beginning of the article, which makes it easier for someone to decide if they want to click through. This format also makes it easier for someone to click through on mobile devices, which have a smaller screen.
With this update, we will prioritize showing links in the link-format, and show fewer links shared in captions or status updates.

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It remains to be seen when this change is rolled out into effect. Please keep in mind, that due to the nature of the Newsfeed algorithm all pages/users won’t be affected with the same magnitude! If you’re regularly using text/photo-posts to drive traffic to your website, we recommend to keep an eye on the numbers (you can use Bit.ly links on Swat.io to measure the clicks easily). When in doubt, use link-posts instead!

Sources: Official Statement by Facebook, AllFacebook.de (German), Thomas Hutter (German)


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About the Author

Michael Kamleitner

Michael Kamleitner is CEO & Product Manager at Swat.io, a Social Media Management solution that’s helping companies to improve their customer support & content management on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others. Swat.io is currently used by companies such as 3Österreich, Hitradio Ö3, ÖBB, Focus Online and Burda Intermedia.

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