Among the many policy changes, Facebook has recently implemented is something called click-baiting. “Click-baiting” is when a publisher posts a link with a headline that encourages people to click for more information, without telling them much about what they will see. Facebook claims posts like these garner many clicks, which in turn get shown to more people, and get shown higher up in News Feed.
Facebook Cracks Down On Click-Baiting
Facebook is warning publishers who frequently post links with click-bait headlines that their distribution may decrease in the next few months. Facebook insists these changes will guarantee that click-bait content does not eclipse the content people really want to see on Facebook.
Facebook’s intention is to help people find the posts and links from publishers that are the most interesting and relevant, and to flush out stories that people often inform Facebook they don’t want to see. Facebook made two changes, the first to reduce click-baiting headlines, and the second to help people see links shared on Facebook in the best format.
However, according to Facebook, when they surveyed people on what type of content they preferred to see in their News Feeds, 80% of the time people preferred headlines that helped them decide if they wanted to read the full article before they had to click through. Facebook reasons that over time, stories with “click-bait” headlines can dominate and overpower content from friends and Pages that people prefer to see.
Facebook monitors the time people spend reading an article away from Facebook, and If people click on an article and spend time reading it, Facebook assumes they clicked through to something valuable. When people click on a link and then directly return back to Facebook, it suggests the content was not something the reader was interested in. With this update, Facebook will begin evaluating whether people tend to spend time away from Facebook after clicking a link, or whether they tend to come straight back to News Feed when they rank stories with links in them.
Facebook also plans on analyzing the ratio of people clicking on the content compared to people discussing and sharing it with their friends. If a lot of people click on the link, but relatively few people click Like, or comment on the story when they return to Facebook, the company concludes that people didn’t click through to something they considered valuable.
Along with the click-baiting update, Facebook plans to modify their policy related to sharing links in posts. Shared links on Facebook frequently appear in the News Feed with a large picture, a headline and some contextual text. Publishers also share links in status updates or in the text caption above photos.
Facebook claims people prefer to click on links that are displayed in the link format (which appears when you paste a link while drafting a post), as opposed to links that are immersed 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 small screen mobile devices.
Facebook Favors The Link-Format
With this update, Facebook will prioritize showing links in the link-format and show fewer links shared in captions or status updates. Facebook advises the best way to share a link after these updates will be to use the link-format, and claims their research indicates these posts have received twice as many clicks compared to links embedded in photo captions. Overall, Facebook recommends the use of the story type that best fits the message you want to tell, be it a status, photo, link or video.
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