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Beat Facebook’s New Clickbait Crackdown with These 4 Tips

John Patterson.

I’m sorry. I couldn’t help myself. An article about clickbait deserves an equally clickbaity title. First off, I lied to you, I can’t really beat the algorithm. What I can do is show you how to make sure your articles and links earn the eyes of your readers. Which is really what you wanted to do in the first place, right? Good. Let’s dive in.

While I am not sad to see clickbait go, Facebook isn’t cracking down in an effort to increase the value of content in your newsfeed. It’s all much more self-serving than that.

I can hear your astonished gasps from here.

So Why is Facebook Suddenly Cracking Down on Clickbait?

In short, because it works. Clickbait is VERY good at getting you to click on a link. This is where clickbait becomes a problem for Facebook.  Facebook’s model for advertising is predicated on you spending time in your newsfeed. They then sell advertising to brands and marketers who wish to reach you either A) In your newsfeed with content or B) on the right hand side of your newsfeed in more traditional banner style ads. Media outlets have become extremely good at writing headlines. It shouldn't surprise anyone that this tactic has been used to sell magazines and newspapers for a hundred years. Remember newspapers? They’re those things you wrap your trinkets in when you move.

No matter how you feel about clickbait (or newspapers) the move for Facebook to abolish clickbait is almost certainly because it threatens Facebook’s ability to sell advertising. By very effectively taking users to the .coms of media site,s Facebook likely sees money hemorrhaging from their pockets into the pockets of sites like BuzzFeed, Viralnova, and many more.

How Do Brands Earn Eyes on Content?

The old school agency guy in me wants to say “It depends on your content strategy.” The truth is it likely won’t impact your content strategy all that much. Assuming that you actually want to produce quality content for your consumers/readers. If you’re producing garbage articles just to dupe people into clicking, you've earned a special place in content marketer hell. Let’s look at a few common sense tips to make sure your links are not getting shut down by the clickbait police.

1.  Develop your headlines using solid SEO practices.

Including keywords in your headline is great for SEO and also naturally gives context to what users can expect to see when they click the link. If written correctly it can be every bit and enticing as a clickbait title without the chance of getting shut down by the new algorithm. SEO is always a good time investment. If you’re not sure how to write for SEO simply use the upside down triangle method. Make content at the beginning of your article more keyword heavy and then lessen your keyword density as you move through the article.

  1. Design Content to be Socially Shareable

Another key factor in Facebook’s clickbait calculation is the amount of engagement as compared to clicks. Spend some time thinking about the copy of the Facebook post that will promote your article or link. It should be designed to encourage sharing as much as possible. This will also help generate engagement.  Some great tips to drive engagement include asking questions, using strong calls to action, and crowdsourcing product/service etc. decisions. Give your audience real involvement in what you’re doing day-to-day and they will engage.

  1. Diversify Your Syndication

The great thing about the social web is that Facebook isn’t the only game in town anymore. There are many other platforms that allow for the free sharing of content. Lately I have really liked LinkedIn’s new publishing tool. I just published my first post What Brands can Learn from the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. There’s also Twitter, Reddit (if you’re brave), StumbleUpon, Digg, and Technorati to name a few. My main point is, don’t put all your eggs in the Facebook basket. Even if you have a large established fan base there.

  1. Content by Number(s)

It’s sort of like paint by number. Using metrics makes content creation easier. Use your website analytic tools in combination with the metrics from your social channels to determine where and when you should be sharing articles/links. Identifying peak posting times can help drive increased engagement and reach. It can also help you create a consistent viewing appointment with fans which will also earn you more eyes and engagement.

What are your strategies and tactics for earning eyes on your links and articles? Tweet to me at @johnpatterson85 and let’s chat social media, whiskey, Disney movies, or anything at all!


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