Facebook can be a great tool for companies, helping them to communicate with their target audiences and to raise awareness of their products and services
However, firms have to tread carefully when it comes to their advertising strategies on the social networking site. If they try to use underhand measures to boost their profiles, they may find they end up wasting valuable time and resources.
Under new measures announced by the Facebook team, organisations that create spammy links, frequently circulate the same material or rely on “like-baiting” to boost their stories on users’ News Feeds will be penalised.
According to Facebook, some News Feed stories use inaccurate language or formatting to trick people into clicking through to websites that contain only ads or a combination of frequently circulated content and ads. The tech company is cracking down on this custom. It stated that by measuring how frequently Facebook users who visit links choose to like the original posts or share these posts with friends, it has been able to better detect and reduce spammy links.
Like-baiting refers to the tactic of explicitly asking News Feed readers to like, comment on or share posts. This is done to provide stories with greater exposure than they would otherwise get. Because people often respond to posts asking them to take action, these stories tend to get shown to more individuals and rise higher up in News Feeds. However, when Facebook surveyed people and asked them to rate the quality of such posts, they reported that like-baiting stories are, on average, 15 per cent less relevant that other posts with a comparable number of likes, comments and shares.
Facebook believes that, over time, these stories lead to a less enjoyable experience for its users. To address this problem, the social network says it has made improvements to better detect such stories and to ensure they are not given greater prominence in News Feeds than other, more relevant stories.
Frequently circulated content
The site is also cracking down on publishers who frequently repeat photos and videos. It claimed that early testing shows the change has caused people to hide ten per cent fewer stories from Pages overall.
Who will the changes affect?
Facebook’s motivation for implementing the crackdown on spam and like-baiting is to make the site more pleasurable and relevant for users. However, some firms may be worried about the potential ill-effects on their marketing campaigns.
Offering reassurance to organisations, the social network suggested that the “vast majority” of publishers aren’t posting spam and so should not be affected. If anything, they may see a very small increase in their News Feed distributions. The firm went on to suggest that a smaller set of publishers who are frequently and intentionally generating spam will see their distributions fall over coming months.
Delivering the right content to the right people at the right time
In a blog post, Facebook software engineer Erich Owens and product manager Chris Turitzin said: “The goal of News Feed is to deliver the right content to the right people at the right time so they don’t miss the stories that are important and relevant to them.”
Commenting on the site’s attempts to improve user experiences, they added: “We’re making these changes to ensure that feed spam content does not drown out the content that people really want to see on Facebook from the friends and Pages they care about.”