Facebook’s latest effort to improve authenticity will have the social media giant take on engagement bait style posts. What does this mean for digital marketers?

Facebook has been making a big push to provide users with a more authentic and enjoyable experience recently. Earlier this year the social media Goliath made changes so that clickbait content posted on Facebook would be identified and penalized. Now Facebook is taking another step forward and directly targeting posts that would be considered engagement bait.

This change is something all digital marketers who use the social platform, from influencers to brands and Facebook Page managers, should be aware of. Violation of these changes will result in the Facebook Page or individual being demoted on the News Feed. This means offenders will see their engagement and reach on posts drop, and repeat offenders will continue to be hit harder with their entire Facebook Page being penalized – not just the posts. This change is expected to roll out this week for individual posts, with penalties to entire pages coming a few weeks later.

What is Engagement Bait?

If you’ve never heard the term engagement bait before, or might be unfamiliar with the concept, you’re not alone. Facebook defines engagement bait as posts which “goad them into interacting with likes, shares, comments, and other actions.”

There are five different ways that a post can be considered engagement bait.

  1. Vote Baiting: Posts that ask users to cast their opinion through a like (or using one of the “like” responses such as wow, love, or laughing), share, or comment will now be considered engagement baiting.
  2. React Baiting: These types of post tend to ask a user to like or share something if they agree with the content of the post or feel similarly. “Like if you agree!” is one of the more common forms of react baiting you’ll see.
  3. Share Baiting: Share baiting encourages users to share the post either for similar reasons to react baiting, or because they may win something as part of a content. “Share this post to win!” and similar language will exist in these types of engagement bait tactics.
  4. Tag Baiting: Tag baiting encourages followers to tag someone they know in the comment of the post. For example, posts that encourage a user to “tag someone who you know that hates Mondays!” or “tag your best friend!” would be considered a form of engagement baiting.
  5. Comment Baiting: Unlike tag baiting, comment baiting doesn’t require a user to tag anyone in the comments – they can simply just write a comment. Similar to share baiting, this form of engagement baiting is commonly used in contests as a way to drive engagement and participation.

Why Would Pages Engagement Bait?

There are many reasons why a company might partake in engagement baiting. Some of the main reasons, however, are that the page or individual could be looking to improve their performance on Facebook, drive engagement, and grow their audience. The problem with this method is that it’s not organic or authentic. According to Facebook, this is gaming the Facebook algorithm in order to generate a greater reach, which they want to reduce because they aim to prevent “the spread of content that is spammy, sensational, or misleading in order to promote more meaningful and authentic conversations on Facebook.”

How Can Facebook Page Managers and Influencers Maintain Reach and Avoid Penalties?

This change in engagement baiting treatment will affect both Facebook Pages and individual posts. However, the changes will not go into effect for another few weeks, giving managers of Facebook Pages and their individual pages time to adjust their strategies and reduce the amount of engagement bait they publish.

Facebook has offered some insight for publishing content that is authentic and adheres to the new guidelines. These guidelines stress authenticity, creating meaningful content, and being respectful, but this is only the beginning. For many content publishers, influencers, and social managers who are looking to ensure they stay compliant while maintaining active engagement levels and a strong reach. Other strategies to encourage natural, authentic engagement can include:

  • Replying to comments and answering questions.
  • Publishing content that users are interested in leveraging.
  • Creating social content with your audience in mind.

You should ask yourself before every article if what you’re publishing is part of a good user experience or not. Your goal should be to have users who follow and interact with your page because they’re interested in your content and what you have to say, not because they were encouraged to do so for the chance to win something.

Although this change can impact many digital marketers, those continuing to follow best practices will not lose reach or have their opportunities impacted because of this new algorithm.