In their latest algorithm change, Facebook has announced they will demote posts and pages that are “engagement bait,” decreasing the number of non-informative spam-like posts appearing in users’ News Feeds.
“Engagement bait” are posts that ask followers to comment, like, or share in an attempt to trick Facebook’s engagement algorithm. Posts that have organic engagement are ranked higher, leading some businesses to create posts designed to artificially trigger Facebook into ranking their content as valuable to users and therefore placing their posts higher in people’s News Feeds. Often, however, these posts have little to no valuable content and are only an attempt to further the reach of the original poster.
Of course, Facebook wants users to like, share, and comment on posts, but they also want the shared content to be valuable to those users. Facebook has already demoted other spam-like posts to de-clutter the News Feed. Clickbait posts and their outlandish headlines have substantially declined in the past few years as Facebook has continued to penalize such posts. Additionally, links to content-poor or ad-heavy sites, as well as photos that appear to be videos to trick users into clicking them, have all been flagged as spam.
This new change to the algorithm targets five specific types of posts Facebook considers “engagement bait”:
- Vote baiting: posts asking users to vote on their favorite item or picture by reactions and comments.
- React baiting: posts asking for reactions to questions.
- Share baiting: posts requiring followers to share the post or page, usually in an attempt to win a prize.
- Tag baiting: posts requesting followers to “tag” a friend, so additional users will see the post—whether the friend is interested or not.
- Comment baiting: posts requesting followers to comment if they agree or disagree with a post.
Facebook notes that posts asking for recommendations, advice, or help, such as missing person reports, raising money for causes, and asking for tips will not be negatively impacted by the update.