writes on December 29, 2017
In an announcement titled “Fighting Engagement Bait on Facebook” the social media giant has made clear their intentions to do away with “spammy posts on Facebook that goad [users] into interacting with likes, shares, comments, and other actions”.
Facebook claims that posts including phrases like, “Like this if you’re Aries!” take advantage of their engagement algorithm (until recently, posts with more likes, comments, and shares appeared higher in users’ feeds).
This change has already been implemented at Facebook, and since the company owns Instagram, you can rest assured the same change will be applied to the photo-sharing app as well.
The team at Facebook have “reviewed and categorized hundreds of thousands of posts to inform a machine learning model that can detect different types of engagement bait”. The result is that individually-targeted posts will show up less often in people’s feeds — however, in the next month, accounts that repeatedly offend the “engagement bait” algorithm will trend lower in feeds altogether. Facebook will apply “Page level demotions” to the repeat offenders.
There is one exception to these new demotions:
Posts that ask people for help, advice, or recommendations, such as circulating a missing child report, raising money for a cause, or asking for travel tips, will not be adversely impacted by this update.
What’s covered by “raising money for a cause”? Facebook hasn’t yet made that clear. Applied retroactively, the ALS Ice Bucket challenge would most certainly have been safe, but what about bands asking for funding for new equipment or studio time? There are no answers yet.
Facebook says they’re looking for greater “authenticity” in posts (*ding ding ding* a word I specifically used in How To Build A Loyal Fanbase months ago). The company wants to “reduce the spread of content that is spammy, sensational, or misleading”.
Besides reading How To Build A Loyal Fanbase for tips on how to engage with your following in a way that endears them to you and attracts new followers, and A Guide To Social Media for more tips on strategies for posting?
Stop blatantly telling your audience to like, comment, or share. Facebook has said in no uncertain terms that they will hide these posts from your followers and eventually hide your entire account.
Instead, work on providing quality content on a consistent basis that (1) presents a clear image of your brand and (2) is authentic to your brand.
For musicians this can mean approaching the promotion of a new track or album a little differently. No longer can you simply copy+paste the link to the song and ask for engagement from you audience. Something more interesting for your listeners would be to include a lyric video (even a 30 second to a minute long one) — and DIY Musician recently gave advice on how to produce one for less than $10.
You can also ask your followers: What do you guys think? or When should I drop the full album? *pondering face*. And, so far as I’ve seen, “Support your favorite indie artists!” isn’t a punishable offense by the new engagement bait algorithm.
Don’t see this crackdown as an impediment to your self-promotion, but encouragement to be more creative.