Facebook is fighting spammy, “engagement bait” posts

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This week Facebook announced it will begin to demote posts in your news feed that are deemed as spammy or “engagement bait”. These posts aim to encourage likes, sharing, comments, and tags – a tactic that plays off the platform algorithm to going viral.

Facebook has decided it doesn’t like publishers gaming the system this way, and claims users don’t like it either. “People have told us that they dislike spammy posts on Facebook that goad them into interacting with likes, shares, comments, and other actions,” the company wrote on its blog.

When paired with compelling and authentic content, this type of engagement really helps to ensure quality posts are surfacing amongst news feeds. However, in practice and most cases, growth marketers have been abusing this to drive traffic to promotions and/or clickbait landing pages filled with advertisements. Facebook’s goal is to combat this. The company says posts that ask people for help, advice, or recommendations like raising money for charity or asking for travel advice won’t be affected by the update. In addition, paid advertisements that encourage engagement to deliver an off-platform asset (value) should not be affected as well.

So what exactly is Facebook doing?

Facebook analyzed and segmented hundreds of thousands of posts and built a machine learning system to detect the different types of engagement bait. If you own a Page and practice these tactics, the company states it will apply these models in a few weeks to allow publishers time to adapt and adjust their strategy. Moving forward, much stricter demotions will be applied to Pages who continue to produce spammy posts with engagement bait. Facebook says Pages that repeatedly post engagement bait will see more “significant drops” in reach.

In a statement, Facebook said, “we will continue to find ways to improve and scale our efforts to reduce engagement bait…We want to reduce the spread of content that is spammy, sensational, or misleading in order to promote more meaningful and authentic conversations on Facebook.”

If you’d like to learn more on how to avoid being tagged as engagement bait, you can find Facebook’s guidelines here. If you’ve been using these tactics and need help finding an organic and authentic way to reach your audience, please feel free to reach out to us for help.

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