Facebook has announced that it will reduce click-baiting headlines on News Feed in a bid to help people find the relevant and most interesting posts while at the same time reduce spam and stories people do not want to see.
Basically, “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.
“However, when we asked people in an initial survey what type of content they preferred to see in their News Feeds, 80% of the time people preferred headlines that helped them decide if they wanted to read the full article before they had to click through.”
“Over time, stories with “click-bait” headlines can drown out content from friends and Pages that people really care about,” said By Khalid El-Arini, Research Scientist and Joyce Tang, Product Specialist on the company’s blog.
Facebook will be looking at the amount of time spent reading an article away from Facebook as a way of determining what looks like clik-bait and 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.
“If With this update we will start taking into account whether people tend to spend time away from Facebook after clicking a link, or whether they tend to come straight back to News Feed when we rank stories with links in them,” said El-Arini.
The people who will be affected by this move the most are a small set of publishers most 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 as they see a decrease in the next few months.
“We’re making these changes to ensure that click-bait content does not drown out the things that people really want to see on Facebook,” read another part of the blog.
Facebook will also look at the ratio of people clicking on the content compared to people discussing and sharing it with their friends. If a lot of people click on the link, but relatively few people click Like, or comment on the story when they return to Facebook, this will suggest that people didn’t click through to something that was valuable to them.
The social media site is also planning to prioritize showing links in the link-format, and show fewer links shared in captions or status updates a breakaway from the earlier format where people share a link on Facebook and it appears in News Feed with a large picture, a headline and some text that gives context on the link.
“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,” said the two on the post.
According to them the best way to share a link after these updates will be to use the link format as their studies have revealed that these posts have received twice as many clicks compared to links embedded in photo captions.
They now recommend you use the story type that best fits the message that you want to tell – whether that’s a status, photo, link or video.