Finally Facebook is doing something about the irritating click bait posts that have taken over the newsfeeds of many users over the last few years. This is of course supermarket tabloid journalism and it has become an industry all to it’s own. Many sites have popped up just because they know they can drive traffic based on the fact that people HAVE to know. So it appears that withing the next few months the “National Enquirers” of the newsfeed are going to have to develop another strategy to get people to click.
The social network revealed the change in a blog post on Monday, citing continued pressure from users to present better content in the News Feed. To do that, Facebook is employing a metric becoming increasingly popular across the Internet: time spent on page.
From the Facebook article:
“Click-baiting” is when a publisher posts a link with a headline that encourages people to click to see more, without telling them much information about what they will see. Posts like these tend to get a lot of clicks, which means that these posts get shown to more people, and get shown higher up in News Feed.
“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,” Facebook employees Khalid El-Arini and Joyce Tang wrote in the blog post.
Clickbait began as a term for headlines that offered up only a certain piece of information. Facebook used the example “You’ll NEVER believe which two stars got into a fight on the red carpet last night!! CLICK to find out which starlet they were fighting over!!”
The change could have a major impact on digital media companies. Facebook has become one of the most influential publishing platforms, driving major traffic to sites that have a strong following on the site and are able to get users to share posts with friends.
Facebook drives the most traffic of any social network, and it’s not even close. Facebook drove 23% of all social traffic in June 2014, with Pinterest at 5.7% and Twitter at 1%, according to Shareaholic.
Since we mainly stick to music around here we’ll bring up a few examples of music news sites that employ these techniques although they are far from being the only ones that do it. Site’s like Loudwire and Ultimate Classic Rock have based a large part of what they do on this type Facebook sensationalism….they both have a little over a million fans each and they churn out Facebook click fodder like this:
This band broke up a few years ago, but because of recent headlines, they’re back in the spotlight as they’ve been mistaken for a terrorist group. See the full story here: Loudwire
JUST IN: A surprising announcement from Shadows Fall about the future of the band. Details here: Loudwire
Happy 63rd birthday to Judas Priest legend Rob Halford today! You won’t believe which job the metal god had before joining the band. Find out here: Loudwire
Unfortunately, this is what happens when a metal band’s van meets a moose while traveling through Canada. Details here: Loudwire
Sammy Hagar (The Red Rocker) took the ice bucket challenge, and you won’t believe who he challenged to go next …Ultimate Classic Rock
He’s about to take a long, long, loooong ride for a good cause.. Ultimate Classic Rock
Guess which rock star’s vowing to go on with the show despite this nasty sprained ankle …Ultimate Classic Rock
The list goes on and on. That’s not to say that they don’t have legitimate content on their sites, because they clearly do so we aren’t calling them out about that but the click bait tactics they employ seem to be the type of thing that Facebook is going to clamp down on.
A small set of publishers who are frequently posting links with click-bait headlines that many people don’t spend time reading after they click through may see their distribution decrease in the next few months.
Facebook also announced they are going to start showing less photos that contain a link in the description and said they will favor showing the links instead. Aren’t they the ones that said they want more photos on the site? Anyhow, take note because Mark Zuckerberg and crew are making some changes that might affect the way you use the social media site.
More from the Facebook article: We’ve found that people often prefer to click on links that are displayed in the link format (which appears when you paste a link while drafting a post), rather than links that are buried in photo captions. The link format shows some additional information associated with the link, such as the beginning of the article, which makes it easier for someone to decide if they want to click through. This format also makes it easier for someone to click through on mobile devices, which have a smaller screen.
With this update, we will prioritize showing links in the link-format, and show fewer links shared in captions or status updates.
The best way to share a link after these updates will be to use the link format. In our studies, these posts have received twice as many clicks compared to links embedded in photo captions. In general, we recommend that you use the story type that best fits the message that you want to tell – whether that’s a status, photo, link or video.