It’s common to see businesses employ social media tactics to ensure greater visibility without additional advertising costs, such as asking for likes, comments and shares on Facebook. In this instance it means business pages can be seen by more than those who have liked their page and become fans; their posts can instead potentially be viewed by users’ larger networks. Facebook is soon going to introduce an update however which will mean these ‘like-baiting’ posts, as they’ve so deemed them, will be penalised. Is it a move to improve user experience (as Facebook are saying) or to further reduce organic visibility and therefore steer businesses towards paid advertising?
The fact is, it is probably a mixture of both. What may possibly benefit the user will also likely reap benefits for Facebook, in that businesses will be less likely to create posts that will spread throughout Facebook organically and therefore give them advertising for free. Facebook are calling these types of posts, which use language such as ‘share/like this post if you agree’, spammy and claim that they are 15% on average less relevant than posts which don’t ask for a response outright yet have a similar number of likes, comments or shares.
It’s true that many posts that lure people to share them in this way can be spammy, although bona fide businesses also use this approach in the same way and so this will greatly reduce the options they have to get in front of as many Facebook users as possible. Facebook also intend to target posts which link to content that doesn’t match up with the posts text, as they also believe this to diminish user experience. Content that is shared repeatedly will also be a target – previous tests that Facebook have undertaken revealed users are 10% less likely to hide the activity of a page they have liked when they don’t see repeated posts.
So what can businesses do other than pay for more advertising to get around these changes? The truth is, it will take a bit more creativity, as well as avoiding acting in a similar way to the pages which do act in a spammy way. Facebook have said action is aimed as pages which explicitly ask for likes etc, so a way round it is to come up with a way which encourages that response without expressing it so obviously. Businesses may often have genuine reasons for sharing the same content more than once, about an upcoming event or a promotion they are offering for instance, in which case they will have to include the same information but present it in different ways. Arguably this will make it more interesting for their fans in any case. Likewise posts should always be relevant to the content that is being shared.