Content marketers, native advertisers and even journalists take warning: Facebook is not looking kindly at your click-bait headlines (for a good example, see my headline above). And they're doing something about it.
In a blog post Monday, Facebook announced a strategy to weed out spammy posts with headlines that lead on and purposefully deceive users about what a full article will be about.
The strategy is two-fold. First, the social media giant will begin looking at how long people spend reading an article after clicking away from Facebook. "If people click on an article and spend time reading it, it suggests they clicked through to something valuable. If they click through to a link and then come straight back to Facebook, it suggests that they didn’t find something that they wanted," the company explains. Those that fall into the latter category will be given less exposure in news feeds, dampening their reach.
Another factor that Facebook will put to use is the ratio of people clicking on a piece of content compared to people discussing and sharing it with their friends. If people are only clicking on a piece of content and are not liking, sharing or commenting on it, it suggests that the content isn't valuable. Again, those posts will get less exposure in news feeds.
For professional communicators, these somewhat punitive measures from Facebook contain important lessons for content creation. For starters, make sure that the content you post on Facebook has a representative headline that will bring genuinely interested users to your content and keep them there. At the same time, it's no longer enough to just encourage interaction with your content. Now, it has to be an integral, necessary component of the experience.
Even after these changes, much has stayed the same. Users and networks alike demand authentic, valuable content. Those that create it will be rightfully rewarded, and those that don't are quickly losing their influence.
Follow Brian Greene: @bwilliamgreene