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Facebook Cracking Down on News Feed Spam

Credit: Matt Harnack / Facebook

Ask a search marketer if they think Facebook is essential to an online marketing strategy, and, chances are, they’ll say yes. And that’s exactly why search marketers everywhere are rethinking how to use Facebook in light of the recent announcement from the company about business spam.

Facebook, like Google, is now making changes to its algorithm to ensure its users get the best content – most relevant, newest and most original. It makes sense.

Facebook, however, isn’t just concerned with quality content – it also wants to be profitable. Why give away free advertising to businesses when they can charge them for it? By reducing a business’s visibility in Facebook, the business is forced to consider paid advertising in order to get the impact they want and need.

What Is Facebook Targeting?

It appears those most affected by the algorithm changes are those involved in three particular – and commonly used – marketing strategies:

1. Asking for Likes, Shares and Comments

Asking for likes, shares and comments in order to promote products isn’t just common, it’s expected. By getting likes, shares and comments, organic posts or photos were showing up in newsfeeds and on Pages, reaching a larger audience – without the company having to pay for it. And this has been going on for years.

Until now, there has been no reason for businesses and search marketers to think twice about this tactic.

Facebook, however, is now labeling this common practice as “like-baiting.” And if you do it, chances are your business or website now won’t be showing up in users’ newsfeeds. This means if you’re trying to reach your target audience organically through Facebook, you’re going to have a much more difficult time doing so.

Facebook is saying users are reporting these so-called “like-baiting” posts as being, on average, 15% less relevant than others with a comparable number of likes, shares and comments. From the point-of-view of Facebook, it makes sense they’d want to crack down on this practice in order to provide users with a more relevant experience. After all they want users to find content that matters to them. Otherwise what’s the point?

2. Frequently Re-Circulated Content

In addition to “like-baiting,” Facebook is now making efforts to limit the amount of content that is being re-circulated on News Feeds. Going viral used to be a golden egg search marketers could hope for. Now it holds much less power.

Before when content would go viral, it would often happen in waves. Every few months, it would go viral again. Facebook considers this content less relevant to users. According to Facebook, users are complaining about re-circulated content.

They’re also complaining about content that isn’t going viral, but is being re-posted by the Pages. Taking the same content and re-posting it will now get you off the News Feeds. Testing so far has shown users are hiding 10% fewer stories from Pages when this update is in place.

3. Spammy Links

Spammy links come in many forms. Some posts have confusing formatting, and users are “tricked” into clicking on a link. Others say they link to something of relevance, such as a photo album, but when users click on the link, they end up on a website chocked full of ads.

How is Facebook determining which links are spammy? They’re tracking the frequency of how often the original post is liked or shared with friends after the links have been clicked. And this can be a problem.

If businesses are posting legit content, but it’s just not getting the number of likes or shares it needs, it could end up being flagged by Facebook. What is a business to do? Ask users to like and share their posts – exactly what Facebook is saying they no longer want businesses to do.

Who Is Going to Feel the Facebook Crackdown?

Facebook claims that the majority of Pages aren’t involved in posting News Feed spam. So most shouldn’t be majorly impacted by these algorithm changes. In fact it’s being predicted that legit Pages may even experience a slight increase in distribution.

On the other hand, those Pages that often – and intentionally – post spam will be affected. They can expect a decrease of their organic reach over the next several months.

What is clear to search marketers is the fact Facebook is actively taking steps to reduce the exposure of businesses in Pages in order to get those businesses to advertise instead. So, what should online marketers do so they’re not victims of these new Facebook changes?

What You Need to Do Now

1. Don’t ask for Likes, Shares and Comments

Now’s the time to get crafty. You need to figure out a way to ask for likes, shares and comments without explicitly doing so. If you outright ask, the content will be flagged, and you’ll get significantly less exposure.

2. Don’t Share the Same Content Over and Over

When you’re trying to promote an upcoming event, this can be tricky. It’s going to take more work now. Instead of posting the same content, new content will have to be created each time. That way the same event gets promoted without being flagged as content being shared over and over again.

3. Don’t Mislead with Links

Out of all of them, this should be the easiest for businesses to do. Don’t mislead with your links. If you have a link, it needs to go where you say it goes. Make sure your links are obvious and won’t be mistakenly clicked on when users have no interest in doing so.

About the author

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Adrienne Erin

Adrienne Erin writes twice weekly for SiteProNews about online marketing strategies that help businesses like Country Lane Furniture Store succeed. Follow @adrienneerin on Twitter to see more of her work or get in touch.

27 Comments

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  • Adrienne Erin, Really nice tips for a facebook marketer. I am totally agree with you no one like to read again same post twice. So always share new and unique information.

  • Just uploaded and embed my twitter feed to my site sahashmi.com i have not added any fb feed ever

  • Oxymoron of the Day: Facebook Marketing
    I would say the oxymoron is Free Facebook Marketing, but I have paid for advertising at least three times and the results were pitiful. But if that’s where the people are it must be relevant. The result is desperation in the from of quotes being made into pictures that have branding, or any lame but provocative or exploitative content, almost all in the form of pictures that again have branding, either directly in the picture or by the page that shared them. Pages are becoming less and less relevant. The indie artist for one was sold out when told 100 percent of their page likes would see their posts and now only around 1 percent are seen. Seems like more and more people are going elsewhere, like Google+ yet Google leaves a lot to be desired. It’s time for a change to paid, ad free subscriptions. Someone will do it, get it right and set the trend, sooner or later. Meanwhile let all the changes start confusing the average user. Long live myspace. ha.

  • I regularly receive unsolicited emails from companies offering 1000’s of Facebook likes. That just screams out spam, that, like link spam in Google, this practice will eventually be detected and penalties applied.

    OK, I am not the best online marketer, far from it, but I would rather produce good, interesting content that try to trick the system.

  • Marketers have the talent to ruin everything in their way and here comes on stage contextual marketing, the new disruptive method to heal the mind of the consumer πŸ™‚

  • My opinion is:

    1) Mark Zuckerberg already has plenty of money made from Facebook, Its nothing but a marketing move, same as Google, and also same as Google you are fixing to see the content of who spends the most money on Facebook. Yep there is plenty of bad content out on the web, even on facebook, but I would rather have uncensored results and content. Broadens my choices so to speak.

    2) Far as users complaining, well hate to say it but these days you could give a person a 16 pound bar of gold and they would complain that its not yellow enough. Facebook is a good example of this. You can chat with your friends 24/7, play games, even video chat with them all at the low price of, yep the one low price of your internet connect. And as the author says, users are complaining. Too comical!

  • Seeing the same content all the the time does get very tedious. So much so that I am taking a personal refreshing break from Facebook. I feel cleansed already and am really not missing the photos of the immaculate cup cakes a friend’s child supposedly made!

  • Good article. I recently wrote about the same topic on my blog (timfelmingham.com/facebook-likes-shares/).

    My take is that it’s really a question of quality – you can still occasionally ask for likes or shares, providing it’s appropriate, in contect, and genuinely valuable. However, deliberate spammy bad practices will be spotted and shut down. As they should be!

  • good article. i but i have an outher problem, facebook block my URL. and show a massage this site are not safe, then i cheack my site but havnt any broken link or malowar, and i many time say to facebook about this eror, but facebook not unblock my site url.
    then i completely change my databesh, and i crat custom cms, all link are seo frindly, but and then i say facebook, but result zero. and i never dont spam on facebook

  • Its really Good i am getting same page content every where and i dislike it thanks Facebook I like this News

    Thanks
    Sgb

  • In the era of SMO, Facebook is one of the best plateform for brand promotion and now the time to restrict spammers.

    Useful sharing of Do’s & Don’ts of this update.

  • Facebook’s advertising money grab will relegate it to another myspace within 2 years (probably much sooner). Unless they lower the cost of advertising and throw the big page owners a bone.

  • Facebook started off great but now with so many restrictions and limits I rarely use it anymore. I feel Twitter is better than all of them. Fewer restrictions and monitoring content is easier.

  • I work on facebook 4-6 hrs a day for my clients. Lately i have seen a slew of paid advertising. And most FB advertisers say its garbage, expensive and doesn’t work. I also have a ton of friends that deleted their FB accounts because of so much “Garbage Advertising” being thrown at them…FB is loosing ground as a social network and becoming a PAID ADVERTISING network. My personal opinion, Facebook Sucks, i cant stand it! But it works for advertising because millions of people are ADDICTED to it. Most people i know that use facebook thaink that facebook is the internet and dont even know what Google is…Funny but true. Great article for us FB marketers.

  • So basically what this amounts to is that like Google, Facebook is now making it more difficult for small businesses to get the word out in favor of larger operators with deep pockets who can afford to pay for the advertising.

  • This is not good from Facebook πŸ™ It is making it more difficult for small brands and businesses that do not have much money to invest in advertisements.

  • Hi Adrienne,

    Thanks for your post. So, what will be Facebook’s strategy if businesses share interesting post or content that may not Get any Likes and Comments? This may happen as Facebook users are over flooded with feeds and may miss a feed by a business.

    Thanks
    Raunak

  • It is well overdue Facebook did something about spammers. Spammer have been slowly taking over with the poor quality content and consent flood of pretty much rubbish. Spammers make it harder to actually find good quality content these days and now Facebook is cracking down they only real way to get your post shared is by spending your money. If the future if you are not going to be prepared to pay Facebook to spread your work, you simply will not get your work spread.

  • Hey Adrienne, does this “revamp” affect only business Pages? I want to hope so, because it would get absurdly restrictive on Facebook profiles, that aren’t used only by businesses.

    Asking for Likes may be seen as “spammy”, but asking for shares and comments does not, IMO. Especially comments (some people are just a bit lazy to put their thoughts in a comment; happens to me, too).

    Anyway, organic traffic to my business page has always depended on how much I engage and help my users, and it has recently gone up again, so the effects of the “crackdown” may be subjective.

    – Luana S.

  • Hey Luana,

    As far as I know, the revamp is just for business pages. I don’t think they clamp down on personal updates nearly to the degree they do with business ones.

    Good luck.

    • Hi Adrienne,

      That’s a relief. πŸ™‚ People enjoy a bit of freedom and relax on their social profiles, so that wouldn’t be a smart move from Facebook’s team.

      Let’s see how the thing goes for business pages.

      Thank you! Good luck to you, too.

      – Luana S.

  • If done right, this could be a good thing. The social space is getting a bit cluttered. I have concerns, though, that this is just one more controlling move by FB. Social is personal…and a place where no one wants to be controlled.

  • Facebook blocked my URL in September 2012, and I do not know what I will do to reactivate it.

    Well, my URL has 15 years old and all user marked the site as Reliable and Clean for virus and malware.

    I verified thats one day, some unconsequent person marked with malware in 2010 at Mywot.com. However, this person is not reliable, because do not respond my messages and e-mails.

    The URL blocked is: http://www.musiconline.com.br

    Sign my petition in > https://www.causes.com/campaigns/73252-the-facebook-respect-safe-websites-please-unblock-the-url

    Well, I thank you all for help.

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