Click bait is SO over: now Facebook is clamping down on ‘engagement bait’

They’re the social media manager’s dream right now: Facebook posts encouraging the public to ‘like for this’, tag a mate or comment with which of nine pictures of the Hound from Game of Thrones they feel like that day.

It’s nice, easy, sharable content and it boosts your engagement figures. Bloomin’ fantastic. Sadly, that could all be about to go down the drain, as Facebook has announced that it will be penalising ‘engagement bait’ posts on the channel.

Facebook says it comes after people “told us that they dislike spammy posts on Facebook that goad them into interacting with likes, shares, comments, and other actions.” FS Susan. You get tagged in one post about not being able to handle your tequila and you ruin it for everyone.

So, what will change?

Facebook has been reviewing and categorising thousands of posts, in order to create a machine learning model that can detect engagement bait. Posts that the machine believes is an engagement bait will be shown less in the news feed – ‘demoting’ the posts whether they be from pages or from people. It will be interesting to see if this will also affect sponsored posts.

But that’s not all. Pages which are deemed repeat offenders will be further demoted, and will see ‘more significant drops’ in reach.

Luckily, Facebook is in the Christmas spirit and is giving us poor, weary and mince-pie filled social media people a few weeks before bringing in these harsher penalties – giving us time to adapt to the new rules.

It’s worth noting that authentic posts, such as people asking for help (ie to find a missing child or pet), recommendations or raising money will not be affected by this update.

So – what will this mean for the general public? Not a lot, except less times being tagged in posts telling you you’re going to be a parent in 2018, or that you’d be able to eat 300 McNuggets in 10 minutes.

For social media managers though, it’s back to the drawing board to get all those promised engagements for the client.

Ishbel Macleod is a PR and social media consultant for Equator

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