Facebook is pushing back against clickbait with more targeted approaches. Ensure your content isn't confused with clickbait in Facebook's new initiative by learning what they're changing and the best practices to make your content stand out.
Content vs. Clickbait: Facebook's Clickbait Crackdown & Making Your Content Stand Out
Facebook's fight against clickbait is nothing new. The emotionally-manipulative headlines with thin, overexaggerated, or misleading content are disruptive to someone's internet experience at best, and spammy or cluttering at worst. Now, with Facebook going harder after fake news and continuing to crack down on clickbait, legitimate content publishers looking to use the social media platform will need to be aware of how they can make their content stand out without getting flagged by Facebook for one of these two categories. In this blog post we'll review the changes Facebook has made and the strategies you can utilize to make sure your content doesn't get confused as clickbait.
Facebook's News Feed Improvements: What They Are, What They Mean
Facebook's latest step in their march against clickbait is an improvement to their News Feed. In a May 17, 2017 press release Facebook engineers announced three major changes to help reduce the amount of clickbait that appears on a user's News Feed:
- Clickbait at Post Level: Previously, Facebook had targeted clickbait from domains and pages that were using clickbait tactics. Now Facebook will be able to identify clickbait content based on what's in an individual post.
- Headline Red Flags: There are users who are savvy enough to identify the differences between clickbait and content with integrity by looking at the headline, and now Facebook is doing the same. Facebook will evaluate if a headline withholds information imperative to the content, or if it purposefully exaggerates information.
- Expanding Languages: Clickbait is not limited to a single language, and Facebook is addressing that by testing this initiative in other languages.
While the third effort is applicable only to content publishers who create content in other languages, the first two are entirely relevant - and important to be mindful of.
Measuring content at the post level is a significant step forward for Facebook. Previously, Facebook's efforts to block at the domain and page level helped push down clickbait websites, but not necessarily sites that were in good standing but would sometimes fall to the "dark side" of content with a clickbait headline. Now, with evaluations going to the post level rather than page or domain, websites who remain in good standing but occasionally post a clickbait headline will be caught. This effort should help those content publishers refrain from creating clickbaity headlines.
The second initiative, evaluating clickbait by headline habits, is critical. Headlines have always made an effort to grab the attention of the reader - whether it be playing on an emotion, asking a question, or using suggestive language - but clickbait uses those tactics in ways that are deceptive to the reader. This has been studied by numerous experts, and websites such as MarketingProfs break down common elements of clickbait headlines as well as the number of elements commonly used. Facebook's two-prong effort to evaluate headlines for omitted relevant content and exaggerated claims creates a basic formula that can be leveraged and utilized for clickbait reduction.
This is all good and well, but it raises a crucial question: where does this leave you, the content publisher? How does this affect your effort to create and gain traffic for your content on Facebook, and what can you do to ensure your content isn't misidentified as clickbait?
The answer may surprise you!
Best Practices to Separating Your Affiliate Marketing Content From Clickbait
To help content publishers avoid being flagged as clickbait, Facebook has listed some guidelines that publishers can follow. However, these are general guidelines - for affiliate marketing content publishers, things may feel a bit different. We've taken a look at some of Facebook's best practices and added affiliate marketing tips and strategies (as well as some best practices of our own) to ensure that your content stands out for the right reasons.
- Meaningful Content: When you create a piece of content you should be thinking about who your audience is. Facebook encourages content publishers to "focus on understanding the audiences they want to reach," and in affiliate marketing this is crucial. You need to have a firm grasp on not only who your audience is and what value this content brings them.
- Something New and Informative: Having a valuable, independent. and well-articulated opinion helps establishes your credibility as a fresh voice and builds trust for your readers. Facebook notes that they're "always working to better understand what is informative to each person" and that "those stories will appear higher up in [user's] feed." Thinking one step further into an affiliate marketing mindset, that higher placement means your content is doing its job of having original, unique content and can encourage readers to make a purchase through your content.
- Information Accuracy: It's not enough to get your content out first to the masses - you also have to be right when you publish it. If you're a content publisher who focuses on the latest trends of an industry (fashion and technology are two good examples) and your content is first but wrong then you won't have readers for very long - or a good placement on Facebook. Facebook notes they take inaccuracies seriously since "false information is harmful to our community" because "it erodes trust." Trust is a valuable asset to have with your readers as a content publisher, especially if you're trying to compel them to purchase a product you recommend or a brand you partner with, so make sure your content is credible. This goes for personal opinions and reviews as well - back your claims up with in-depth, careful evaluations and prove that you've put the time and effort to make sure your views are accurate and trustworthy.
- Headlines That Work: We've talked a lot about the idea of clickbait headlines, but there's a reason why people can't resist clicking on clickbait. HubSpot notes that studies show "curiosity is a cognitive form of deprivation from realizing you have a gap in your knowledge. And when you have that deprivation, you're gonna try really really hard to reverse it." Does that mean you should make every headline, or even some headlines, clickbait-focused? Absolutely not. Take the time to craft compelling headlines that give the reader a desire to learn more while also being upfront about what they'll learn. If your content is well-written, informative, compelling, and interesting, it should be no problem to get a reader excited to read it. A good strategy is to remember that you don't just want readers to click on your article, you want them to read through and be compelled to do more afterwards - be it click a link to make a purchase of a product you recommended, shop a brand you shared your love for, or simply be informed about the latest products they may care about. Action for affiliate marketers doesn't stop at the click of a headline, so give them a reason to click it and keep going afterward!
- Avoid Spam: This seems like it should go without saying, but we can't stress the importance of avoiding spammy content enough especially in affiliate marketing. The last thing you want is for your readers to click your content and think you're just posting affiliate links with thin content to try and get them to convert. That will make readers feel they're being tricked and will likely get your content alienated. There are two ways to avoid this. First, have meaningful content. Second, disclose your content. Don't be afraid to share that you're an affiliate partner with a brand, and absolutely disclose if a blog post is sponsored by a brand. It's not only the law to do so, it's actually beneficial to you: consumers aren't all that bothered by sponsored content as long as the content is good, so worry less about how your reader might respond to the disclosure and focus more on giving them a reason to enjoy the content regardless.
These are just some content publishing best practices you can leverage to ensure that your content stands out and isn't confused with clickbait. When in doubt, always consider the reader - who they are, what they care about, and why they clicked on your content. Be honest and upfront, from headline to content to disclosures, and always aim to have something unique and interesting to share.