Facebook has released a sternly-worded warning to like-baiters, spammers and oversharers by way of an update to “clean up” the newsfeed.
However, as long as the organic reach for Facebook Pages continues circling the drain, they aren’t in a great position to demand higher quality content and more effort from Page administrators.
So what do you have to do now to hang on to that abysmal, dying ability to reach your own fans on your Facebook Page?
Here’s the list of things Facebook says “Pages that deliberately try and game News Feed to get more distribution than they normally would,” are doing:
1. Like-baiting (this is where you ask people to like your content):
Facebook’s statement on what they call like-baiting is pretty crazy. Did this actually make sense when they wrote it?
“People often respond to posts asking them to take an action, and this means that these posts get shown to more people, and get shown higher up in News Feed. However, when we survey people and ask them to rate the quality of these stories, they report that like-baiting stories are, on average, 15% less relevant than other stories with a comparable number of likes, comments and shares.
This update will not impact Pages that are genuinely trying to encourage discussion among their fans, and focuses initially on Pages that frequently post explicitly asking for Likes, Comments and Shares.“
Translation: We understand that you are simply doing what your audience expects you to do, by asking them to engage. And you’re doing it, even though we’ve made it more and more difficult for you to get content in front of them. We’d like you to stop that now, though, because our EdgeRank algorithm can’t gauge the quality of your content and therefore we can’t tell legit businesses and spammers apart. Just trust us, mmmkay?
Facebook, that’s a YOU problem. You cannot tell on a case-by-case basis which post is asking for an action because they’re trying to encourage discussion and which is trying to game EdgeRank, because you cannot read minds.
As small business Page managers, you’re just going to have to deal with this new reality – that Facebook may label you a spammer if you ask people to like, comment or or share your Page posts.
2. Help Us Stop Oversharing
“People and Pages on Facebook frequently reshare great content, but people tell us there are occasionally instances where photos or videos are uploaded to Facebook over and over again. We’ve found that people tend to find these instances of repeated content less relevant, and are more likely to complain about the Pages that frequently post them. We are improving News Feed to de-emphasize these Pages, and our early testing shows that this change causes people to hide 10% fewer stories from Pages overall.“
This seems reasonable enough. As a business page, you should be careful about what you’re resharing anyway. Does it add value for your audience? Is it somewhat unique or have they seen it 15 times already? Is it something they can’t get from anyone else? Content curation and sharing are important aspects of a well-rounded social strategy, but you probably want to avoid sharing the kinds of memes, articles and other content (Upworthy, anyone?) that your customer could have got from their Aunt Freda who just learned how to use Facebook.
3. Link Spamming
Here’s how Facebook describes spammy links:
“Some stories in News Feed use inaccurate language or formatting to try and trick people into clicking through to a website that contains only ads or a combination of frequently circulated content and ads. For instance, often these stories claim to link to a photo album but instead take the viewer to a website with just ads.“
My question is, how are people who use this strategy to reach people organically getting any traction at all? Sending people to a spammy ad site from anywhere is a bad experience. Interestingly, they’ve included “frequently circulated content” in their description of what you might find on a spam site.
Anyway, if you’re operating a legitimate business and have a real, live website where you try to engage customers and actually promote your products and services, this shouldn’t affect you. This is important to consider, however, if you’re curating content and linking to other websites. Always, always check the destination of a link to be sure you know where you’re sending people.
- Use calls to action in your posts wisely. As hypocritical as Facebook’s reasoning is for labeling Pages that engage their fans like-baiters and spammers, you should probably at least cut back on asking for likes, comments and shares or risk the wrath of Facebook.
- Be careful with your content curation and resharing. You might even need to become a little stingy, but that’s not a bad thing. View your Page’s shares as a personal and professional endorsement of the content and don’t hit Share if you’re not willing to put your business name behind it.
- Don’t be a spammer. Don’t enable spammers. Don’t accidentally promote spammers.
In closing, Facebook wrote, “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.”
A cynic might point out that they’ve created the atmosphere in which Page administrators will jockey for what limited position is left and beg for Likes. Facebook Pages with under 500,000 followers – like yours, I’m guessing – are seeing just 2% organic reach. Two percent REACH, not engagement, meaning just two percent of the people who already told Facebook they care about your business enough to follow your page will see any given update you post.
Facebook, if you want to give the millions of small businesses on your network reason to create the best content possible and help you create a better experience for users, it’s time to stop punishing them for doing exactly as you’ve asked them to do. If you’re not happy with pages like “when your teacher accidentally scrapes her nails on the chalkboard and you’re like whaaaaat” (the Page Facebook used as their like-baiting example), deal with them.
A FUD campaign against Page owners isn’t necessary.