Facebook goes after clickbait headlines - five tips to maintain reach

Facebook has announced the rollout of three more updates designed to target and eliminate clickbait headlines. Here's how to make sure you aren't affected, and maintain your Page's reach in the midst of the changes.

Facebook is determined to reduce clickbait headlines. What’s the best way to ensure that your brand’s page won’t be affected by the latest updates?

Facebook wants to help readers discover more valuable stories on their news feeds, and that’s why last month, it announced an attempt to get rid of as many clickbait headlines as possible.

Three updates aim to reduce the reach of exaggerating and misleading headlines, hoping to improve the quality of information presented to Facebook users.

Thus, it announced the following updates:

  • From now on they are analyzing clickbait in an individual post level. This means that the process becomes more manual, but also more precise.
  • The focus will be divided into two signals, checking each headline for withholding or exaggerating information.
  • Clickbait analysis goes beyond English, expanding into German, Arabic, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Italian, Thai, Vietnamese, and Chinese. This will increase the chances of reducing spammy headlines in a wider content that goes beyond the English language.

Can you unintentionally create clickbait headlines?

Not every publisher creates content with the intention of misleading the target audience. However, it can be tempting to create a more appealing headline that will increase the traffic towards a page.

Facebook is determined to improve the browsing experience and the quality of users’ news feed stories, which means that any attempt at creating clickbait headlines will decrease the story’s reach.

Thus, even if you’re not intentionally creating clickbait, here’s what you need to avoid.

Headlines that withhold information

This is a fairly typical clickbait strategy – teasing a detail or a secret in the headline that requires readers to click through to the article in order to find out what it is. While the example above is pretty obviously clickbait, be careful not to fall into this trap unknowingly.

Ask yourself: does the article headline unnecessarily withhold a detail from the reader that will be quickly answered by reading the piece? Is there a good reason to withhold this information? Remember that giving away the main message of your content or its “big reveal” in the headline doesn’t mean that the content itself isn’t still interesting to the reader. Often, it will actually make it more appealing.

Headlines that exaggerate in the details of a story

A lot of the time, clickbait headlines play up the actual content of the article, leading to inevitable reader disappointment when they read a piece. While it’s tempting to go with the most sensational headline you can think of in a bid to attract readers, make sure it genuinely matches the content of the piece and doesn’t set up expectations that will go unfulfilled.

How does clickbait affect a Page?

According to Facebook, posts with clickbait headlines will appear lower down the news feed. This means that if you consistently create misleading (or exaggerated) headlines, you’re reducing your brand’s chances of reaching a bigger audience.

Facebook’s complicated algorithm is all about the consistency of the value, which means that if you fall into the trap of clickbait headlines, you will have to try even harder to show up higher on the news feed afterwards.

Publishers and Page managers may have already noticed a decrease in their reach when distributing content, and this could be a warning sign that it’s time to reconsider your publishing guidelines.

Five tips to maintain reach after the clickbait updates

It’s important to familiarize your with Facebook’s suggestions on what makes a clickbait headline. In fact, this may also be a good opportunity to evaluate your Facebook strategy in general with a view to improving the engagement and reach of your Page.

Here are five tips to ensure that your reach won’t be affected by Facebook’s latest updates:

  1. Aim for authentic communication: Focus on your audience and create content and headlines that they will appreciate. This increases the chances of engagement and thus, your posts have more chances to keep showing up higher on their news feeds.
  2. Add value: What would your target audience appreciate? What would make them click on your page? There’s no need to think of clickbait techniques to increase the traffic to your page, provided that you know how to add value to the topics they are interested in.
  3. Don’t exaggerate: Exaggerated headlines are no longer welcome on Facebook. This may have been an easy way to increase traffic on your site, but it won’t lead to the same results anymore. Focus on the actual content and offer a more accurate description to ensure your Page is not facing a reduced reach.
  4. Don’t omit information: Clickbait may also occur with headlines that omit information in an attempt to increase visits towards the site. This tactic will no longer be effective, which means that it becomes crucial for Page managers to inform the audience as much as possible through the headlines.
  5. Be clear and accurate: As simple as it seems, clear and accurate headlines will have more chances to show up in users’ news feeds. It’s probably the best time to leave behind exaggerating content for the sake of authentic and descriptive headlines.

What’s next?

This is just the beginning of Facebook’s attempt to get rid of clickbait headlines and promote more informative content. Even if the rollout is still quite recent, there’s no need for Page managers to delay updating their strategy and risk losing their Page’s reach for the sake of a few tantalizing headlines.

Start by thinking of your audience, and create content that they will appreciate. This way the clicks will be all the more organic and valuable.

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