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This post engagement method is hurting your reach

By Tricia Kronenburg | Spots & Stripes

A simply way to boost post engagement is to ask followers to like, vote, comment, tag, or share. Sure, this method gets the engagement you’re looking for in the moment, but it’s hurting you in the long run.

Asking followers to perform these kinds of actions is called engagement baiting. Facebook users have reported these posts as irritating and lacking in value, this is therefore considered as a form of spam.

These are some examples of engagement baiting:

The idea that a post needs a ton of likes or comments to be considered successful is shortsighted. The follower-engagement that you’ve received from using these engagement baiting methods in reality provides little to no value when it comes to building a community and branding. The cherry on top is that Facebook will even punish you for it.

Facebook will actually begin demoting posts from people and pages that use engagement bait. Pages that even repeatedly share engagement bait posts will also see more significant drop in reach.

Wait, so I can never ask my followers to engage?!

Don't panic ;) Social media is about being social. Facebook doesn't want to take that away. How to best stay clear of engagement baiting is in how you ask for engagement and the quality of your content.

What constitutes as good content?

It boils down to 2 factors:

1: It's authentic.

2: It has value.

Value can take different forms - you can provide value in the form of information, or social value in the form of participation and community. Value is even listed as the number one publishing principle in the Facebook guidebook:

Publisher Principle 1: People on Facebook Value Content That's Meaningful and Informative.

The goal of News Feed is to connect people to the stories they care about most.

Here's an example of a great way to ask for engagement - simply ask for an opinion. The content itself is also authentic of the brand and true to the interests of the followers.

When you avoid engagement bait methods and focus on the quality of what you're putting out in the social media world, the engagement that occurs will be sincere and will ultimately be more valuable for your brand. And that really is the ultimate goal, isn't it?


If you're curious, take a look at Facebook’s News Feed Publisher Guidelines.

Here Facebook explains the type of content they wish to provide on Facebook and what goes into the algorithm.

Publisher Principle 1: People on Facebook Value Content That's Meaningful and Informative.

The goal of News Feed is to connect people to the stories they care about most. For publishers, this means creating content that's meaningful or informative. People expect the stories in their feed to be meaningful to them and we have learned over time that people tend to value stories that they consider informative. We are not in the business of picking which issues the world should read about, but we are in the business of connecting people with the stories they find most meaningful. Publishers should ideally focus on what they do best; making the important and meaningful stories interesting to their audience.

  1. People on Facebook value meaningful, informative stories

  2. People on Facebook value accurate, authentic content

  3. People on Facebook value standards for safe, respectful behavior

These are the four essential steps of the News Feed algorithm:

  1. Inventory - What stories have been posted by friends and publishers?

    • The inventory is a set of stories that are shared by your friends and the Pages you follow. Your News Feed is primarily comprised of the content shared by your connections.

  2. Signals - Who posted this story?

    • For this step, we consider hundreds of thousands of signals like, ‘Who posted this story?’ and ‘When was it posted?’ as well as small details we can discern about the viewing environment like, ‘What time is it?’, ‘How fast is the internet connection?’ etc.

  3. Predictions - How likely are you to comment on this story?

    • We look at each story and try to evaluate which one we believe is likely to be most meaningful to you as an individual. The algorithm then uses all of those signals to try and predict how likely you are to engage with a post, which is one way we assess whether or not you might find a post to be meaningful. We make predictions like, ‘How likely are you to comment on a story?’, ‘How likely are you to spend time reading that story?’, ‘How long do we think you might spend reading that story?’, ‘Would you watch the video through to completion?’ and some qualitative predictions like, ‘How likely are you to say you find this story informative?’.

  4. Score - Relevancy Score

    • Then we use all of the consolidated signals to develop a relevancy score — a number that represents how interested we think users will be in that story.

Let’s say someone likes a local news publisher’s Page, and that Page just posted an article. We look at various signals, like who posted it (one of the Pages you interact with most), other engagement on the story (this one has numerous reactions), and hundreds of thousands of other things. Then we take all of this information, make some predictions and calculate some probabilities.

Examples of what we predict:

Likelihood to click

Likelihood to spend time with this story

Likelihood to like, comment and share

Likelihood you'll find this informative

Likelihood this is clickbait

Likelihood this links to a low-quality web page

We add these predictions up into a Relevancy Score, which is our best guess at how meaningful you will find this story.

We do this for every story, for all of your connections, every time you open up News Feed. We go through the process over and over again and come up with our best guess for how interested we think you might be in each one. Then, we order these stories by the scores.

And this is fundamentally how News Feed works today.

People have told us that they dislike spammy posts on Facebook that goad them into interacting with likes, shares, comments, and other actions. For example, “LIKE this if you’re an Aries!” This tactic, known as “engagement bait,” seeks to take advantage of our News Feed algorithm by boosting engagement in order to get greater reach. So, starting this week, we will begin demoting individual posts from people and Pages that use engagement bait.

Let’s look at how these principles guide News Feed’s ranking of the thousands of stories on average that vie for attention each day in a person’s feed.

Every time you open Facebook, News Feed goes through a set of 4 steps to answer the question: Which stories are likely to matter most to your readers?

News Feed is an algorithm — meaning, it’s a formula or set of steps for solving a problem. It has become more difficult for pages to organically reach their followers.


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