Facebook is the Internet’s largest content provider. Think about the 1.5 billion users — each one writing a considerable amount of stuff.
And despite people droning on about their latest vacation, weight loss, and whatever they are eating, big brands have figured out that Facebook is worth spending a little bit of money on.
Enter: Clickbait. A provocative way of writing that optimizes attention and drives traffic. Facebook is about to cut said bait with a new and powerful algorithm change.
Facebook has announced that the News Feed is about to change for the benefit of its users, and much to the chagrin of marketers. The social media juggernaut’s Feed Quality Panel found that it wasn’t just stories that were Liked, shared, commented on and clicked that did well. Some posts were enjoyed without any interactions.
Starting today, Facebook will rate posts based on what people want to see at the top of their News Feed, through a process that isn’t fully clear. It may use how much time a user spends looking at a post, a metric it started tracking last year, or use keywords in things a user post about to determine what’s interesting to that person.
“This update should not impact reach or referral traffic meaningfully for the majority of Pages,” Facebook software engineers Cheng Zhang and Si Chen said in a blog post. “Pages might see some declines in referral traffic if the rate at which their stories are clicked on does not match how much people report wanting to see those stories near the top of their News Feed.”
What does this mean? Everything you want to matter in social media — likes, clicks, comments, shares — will begin to matter much more. Moreover, Facebook’s algorithmic change will begin to work similar to Google’s, and provide you want to see. Or, at least, what it thinks you want to see.
This means you will see a feed that is worth watching, not necessarily reading.
If a photo or status update is entertaining or intriguing, it won’t necessarily need your touch to show up to more people. Pages and news publishers sharing glance-worthy content might gain referral traffic and reach, while those who aim to trick you into clicking could endure a drop.
Facebook wants users to find an addiction and get a fix on its platform. This way, they will feed that craving in a more powerful way and marketers will have to create another tactic to get the attention of that 1.5 billion.
Your move, spammers.