Facebook News Feed Updates: Will Your Page Be Flagged as Spam?

Facebook will yet again be rolling out changes to their News Feed. These changes will affect content that is being shared pages. In a recent update:

The goal of News Feed is to deliver the right content to the right people at the right time so they don’t miss the stories that are important and relevant to them. Today we are announcing a series of improvements to News Feed to reduce stories that people frequently tell us are spammy and that they don't want to see. 

In a nutshell, Facebook will try to bring users the most relevant information by cutting out like-bait content (more below) as well as repetitions on viral content that may be circulating. 

Here's how you can ensure that your updates are not detected as spam:

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LIKE-BAITING

We've all come across posts that explicitly request users "LIKE" or "SHARE" content. Sometimes these posts are not quite relevant to the page or user. Page managers know that posts with more engagement (Likes, Shares or Comments) appear more frequently in News Feed. This is where like-baiting comes in. According to Facebook:

People often respond to posts asking them to take an action, and this means that these posts get shown to more people, and get shown higher up in News Feed. However, when we survey people and ask them to rate the quality of these stories, they report that like-baiting stories are, on average, 15% less relevant than other stories with a comparable number of likes, comments and shares. Over time, these stories lead to a less enjoyable experience of Facebook since they drown out content from friends and Pages that people really care about.

How can you avoid being labelled as spam? 

This is easy. Try to avoid explicitly asking users to "LIKE" or "SHARE" content. Add some context. Get creative. Instead of this...

"LIKE" if you love chocolate chip cookies! 

Why not try something like this:

Would you LIKE the recipe to my fave cookies? 

Of course, it is still OK to use call-to-actions when relevant. Asking users to give their feedback in the comments is still an acceptable and great way to gather engagement while staying relevant. 

Frequently Circulated Content

Another way to avoid being labelled as spam is to minimize sharing viral content. This is not to say that you must avoid popular content all together. Simply make sure that this type of content does not make up the majority of your posts. 

People and Pages on Facebook frequently reshare great content, but people tell us there are occasionally instances where photos or videos are uploaded to Facebook over and over again. 

Chances are that if you are seeing that same hilarious video on your personal page, it's probably not fresh anymore. Some of the best brands out there will piggyback off the popularity of one particular piece of content by creating a totally personal and unique take on it. 

Yum, spam! 

Spammy Links

We've probably all experienced clicking on a misleading link only to find that we've been redirected to an irrelevant landing page. This is a perfect example of a spammy link. Unfortunately, Facebook seems to define a spammy link as such:

By measuring how frequently people on Facebook who visit a link choose to like the original post or share that post with their friends, we've been able to better detect spammy links.

By this definition, it sounds as though many unassuming pages with low engagement could be labelled as spam simple by trying to drive traffic to their websites. We will have to see how Facebook manages this one. As it stands, Facebook it could potentially be prematurely flagging or blocking users/pages that have not committed any real offense. 

How can you avoid being mislabelled as a spammer? For starters, always be clear when describing what the user should expect to see should they click the link. Secondly, be sure to link to the correct landing page. If you are describing a product or service, for example, do not simply link to the homepage. Make the content that has been advertised in the post as easy to find as possible. 

Final Thoughts

I personally prefer the approach in which Facebook allows the user to rate or flag what they find uninteresting or spammy. Attempts to overfilter content may result in some pages needlessly getting the short end of the stick. Users may also miss out on interesting or useful content that has been miscategorized according to their interests. 

The first condition of progress is the removal of censorship.

George Bernard Shaw

What are your thoughts on these new updates? Have you started applying these content updates to your posts? 

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