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    August 25, 2014 // 4:38 PM

    Facebook Updates News Feed Algorithm to Crack Down on Photos With URLs and Click-Bait Headlines

    Written by Lindsay Kolowich | @

    update-announcement-megaphoneThe folks at Facebook have been working hard these past few months to defend the News Feed against spammy posts by brand pages. In April 2014, they cracked down on like-baiting, frequently circulated content, and spammy links.

    This afternoon, they announced two brand new updates that'll crack down on posts by brand pages. Let's dive into the updates below where you'll learn about what happened and how you need to react.

    Update #1: Facebook will now prioritize link posts over photo updates that have URLs in the captions.

    When you want to post a URL on your brand's Facebook Timeline, you have two options: You could either post a link directly to your timeline, or you could post a photo and include a URL in the photo's caption.

    In link format, users see additional information about a link like a headline and meta description. Here's what a link post looks like:

    Photo posts with the URL in the caption don't display that information. They just have a photo and a caption that contains a link. Here's what a photo post that includes a URL in the caption looks like:

    In the past, we've recommended posting URLs in photo format. This is because photo posts with URLs were displayed much more prominently in the News Feed compared with link posts, which pulled in a thumbnail image that was much smaller than a photo image. Check out how the two compared:

    photo-vs-link-facebook-posts-resized-600-1

    (Note: This screenshot was taken from 2012 -- now, link updates can have a much more prominent photo.)

    Plus, the study we conducted in 2012 that photos on Facebook Pages received 53% more Likes and 104% more comments than the average post.

    Two years later, Facebook says it's finding people actually prefer to click on URLs displayed in text posts, rather than URLs in photo captions. As a result, Facebook will now be prioritizing showing links in link format over photo format.

    This doesn't necessarily mean you should stop posting photo posts altogether -- it just means that when you want people to visit a link via your Facebook Page, you should post in the link format, not in the photo format with a URL in the caption. 

    Update #2: Facebook will be devaluing click-bait headlines.

    By Facebook's definition, "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." Here's an example:

    click-bait-example-facebook

    Irresistible headlines like these draw people to click on them more often, which causes them to take over users' News Feeds even if the article itself isn't interesting. Facebook says it found that users prefer headlines that help them decide whether they want to read the full article before they click through about 80% of the time.

    To help clear out those uninteresting articles with click-bait headlines the News Feed, Facebook will devalue content that gets high clickthrough rates, but low on-site reading time or low discussion about it on Facebook. Brands that rely on click-bait headlines to drive traffic to their website will likely see their distribution decrease with Facebook's new policy.

    Both of these updates are pretty straightforward for marketers -- luckily, Facebook was pretty clear about what to do and what not to do. So going forward, we should 1) Use link post formats when we want to share links on our Page, and 2) Write clear headlines that communicate what articles are really about. 

    Are you surprised by either of these updates? 

    Topics: Social Media

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