A week before Christmas in 2017, Facebook announced that they will be putting an end to engagement bait posts on Facebook.
Since the update, we've heard from dozens of account managers that they have seen a drop in reach by as much as 90%.
In this article, I'll cover what engagement bait posts are, who the changes impact, and how to refine your Facebook ad strategy to cater to these changes.
What is engagement bait on Facebook?
Engagement bait is when you ask a Facebook user to comment, share, like, or react to your post with the primary purpose of tricking the algorithm to serve your posts to more people organically.
There are many types of engagement bait posts, such as vote, react, and share baiting.
Then there's tag and comment baiting where you ask users to tag a friend who may be interested in your post, or ask users to leave a specific comment so you can follow up with a messenger bot.
Why is Facebook putting an end to this?
Because marketers are trying to outsmart the Facebook algorithm and because Facebook users are complaining.
Facebook uses the amount of engagement a post gains to decide where to rank it on the news feed. Through engagement baiting, marketers can increase a post's and Page's ranking score, allowing low-quality content to rank higher.
This results in Facebook showing low-quality content and giving their users a bad user experience.
Who will be impacted by this update?
"Posts that ask people for help, advice, or recommendations, such as circulating a missing child report, raising money for a cause, or asking for travel tips, will not be adversely impacted by this update."
"We will begin implementing stricter demotions for Pages that systematically and repeatedly use engagement bait to artificially gain reach in News Feed. We will roll out this Page-level demotion over the course of several weeks to give publishers time to adapt and avoid inadvertently using engagement bait in their posts."
It appears that if you're using engagement bait to play the Facebook algorithm, you should expect to see a sharp decrease in traffic. Speaking to several account managers who use these types of methods, some have seen as much as a 90% drop in organic reach since the Facebook update.
If you're using engagement-style postings for the right reasons, Facebook will not be taking action.
From their announcement, Facebook will only target pages that repeatedly use engagement bait as a way to trick the news feed only.
I use engagement bait, so what should I do now?
If you rely heavily on engagement bait posts, you most likely have already seen a reduction in reach.
Facebook did not state how they are reducing engagement bait, but my guess is they have put restrictions on Pages that have frequently used these types of posts in the past.
My first suggestion would be to run a Facebook advert targeting everyone who liked or engaged with your Page and let them know that if they would like to see more posts from your Page they need to turn on notifications for your Page.
You should also start to get serious about running more ads on Facebook.
With all the recent news feed updates, Facebook is turning its platform into a pay for play model for businesses.
This might be a hard pill to swallow if you were reaching thousands of people for free before, but with the right Facebook ad strategy you'll be able to scale your business much faster than using organic updates.
If you can create viral-worthy content without baiting users into leaving a comment, it's not that hard to reach hundreds of thousands of users for little ad spend.
One method is to write a blog post around a trending topic in your niche and serve it to users who are most likely to engage using the page post engagement objective.
Allocate the campaign a small ad budget, and once Facebook users start to share and engage, turn the advert off and the shares and comments should snowball into tens of thousands of unpaid organic impressions.The advert above provides value and is super relevant to anyone living in Thailand, yet users are not asked to leave a comment or engage.
This is how you need to create content going forward on Facebook – value first.
To reach your audience on Facebook, the message to brands is simple: post quality content and start running ads.
If you have recently experienced a huge drop in revenue from the engagement bait news feed update and aren't sure where to turn next, get in touch with the team at MuteSix to find out how we can jumpstart your page back to life.