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Facebook Is Getting Stern About Clickbait

Social Media Strategist at The Social Media Current
4 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Facebook is at it once again…  I was SHOCKED!

You guessed it: Facebook updates its algorithm again, but no one is really surprised (much less shocked) at this point. This time, the social platform taught its algorithm to recognize clickbait titles. You know, the ones that balance on the edge of curiosity and distaste.

Facebook began targeting this issue back in April, when its algorithm started evaluating signals like time spent on a given page. However, “while this update helped, we’re still seeing Pages rely on clickbait headlines, and people are still telling us they would prefer to see clearly written headlines that help them decide how they want to spend their time and not waste time on what they click,” Facebook team informs.

Related: 5 Lessons Learned From Running 2,652 Facebook Ad Campaigns

Since clickbait articles follow pretty much the same title formula, Facebook’s algorithm will determine a perceived level of tackiness by considering two elements: “(1) if the headline withholds information required to understand what the content of the article is; and (2) if the headline exaggerates the article to create misleading expectations for the reader.”

The algorithm will also learn pages and domains that publish high volumes of clickbait content and those will face some sort of punishment (can organic reach be any lower for Business pages?). However, there is a road to redemption: once the affected pages will stop posting clickbait content, the algorithm will eventually rank their posts higher in News Feeds. The official release also says that most of the Business Pages won’t be affected by this change (unless you were one of those publishers shocking us with celebrity outfits and diets that shred 60 pounds in three days.)  

The new algorithm tweak shows just how important quality content became. It’s not enough to merely post “something” and hope “someone” will read. Content marketing becomes a sort of a battlefield; and supplying consistent value becomes the main winning strategy in this battle. Think of content as a kingdom with its ground rules and principles. Now you see why quality content is king?

Related: 4 Tips to Create and Groom a Viral Facebook Video Ad

Even Upworthy, the most famous clickbait offender that “unleashed the monster,” realized it and changed their strategy to producing original articles and video. They even apologized for that. What Upworthy and lots of other media sites learned is that meaningful information becomes so increasingly important, because readers and consumers are so much more experienced these days. They’re educated on what clickbait looks like, and likewise, they sense insincerity and emptiness of content. Plus, they just don’t have time to fool around: they need information, and they need it now.

While Facebook gets a lot of negative sentiment every time they adjust their algorithm, it becomes clear that this update is for the good (assuming their algorithm is a good learner). Not only will it improve user experience, it will also allow smaller companies with truly amazing content shine more.

Related: 10 Quick Steps to Creating a Facebook Ad Campaign

What’s more important though is that millions, if not billions, of people made Facebook their destination for news, and not only about their closest circle of connection, but the world as well. So, love it or hate it, Facebook is still the largest, most dominant player in the field, whether it’d be social media or content in general. Thus, a much larger implication of this update is that this bold clickbait-combating strategy sends publishers a clear and definite message: the standards are being raised. From here, you have two options: step up your game or be left behind.

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