Facebook announced two changes to their link algorithm today.
1. They will work to discredit click-baiting articles cause they supposedly crowd out content from your friends
2. They will change so that your photos with links in the captions will be shown less than links that are posted with the link associated photo and photos posted as photos
So. What do these changes to the Facebook algorithm mean?
Well. You should really read their post here – Facebook click bait and photo caption changes - And then continue reading.
The challenge with the click baiting change
I am concerned about this change as it will give less value to essentially all blog posts that are either too short or too long. You will thus have to change the format you write in order to maintain your shareability on Facebook.
So. What the heck do I mean by saying that?
Well. First off. If your article is a short how to or top list, visitors will stay shorter at your page than they would on a longer article. Regardless if you served their purpose of clicking the link in the first place. Secondly. If the article is too long, yet the introduction is really interesting, I am very likely to save the article for later reading and thus return to Facebook after a short while.
The short articles will have a bit of an easier time as they, most likely, will be compensated by users sharing and commenting on the posts. Also. Posts with Facebook comments will get priority as they are more likely to get interaction signals that Facebook can read. However, the long reads. They will most likely get less priority as a result of Facebook not being able to get any signals about how the user interacts with the story.
I would say Facebook shouldn’t do this change as users will eventually stop clicking these links if they do not like the content they receive. Facebook has a wonderful ability to push ads on a personal serve basis, and I am surprised they admit that they cannot monitor my behaviour well enough to stop serving me these types of links when I stop clicking them. However, my suspicion is that they do this for completely different reasons. But hey! I am a cynic.
The challenge with links in the photo caption change
This is challenging cause it will effect the way we do promotions on Facebook. Especially if we have legal constraints that are associated with our promotions. If let’s say we post a photo with an offer that is tied to a set of legal constraints, we will have to either boost the post more heavily, giving us a less beneficial ROI. OR we will have to post the full legal text directly in the post, pulling down conversion rates and click throughs – not because you have sucky legal disclaimers, but because the format of the post is not a nice way to pedagogically present legal changes.
I have used links with photos a lot as a navigational tool and as a game tool where the next step or a “jump” is made possible in more creative photo albums. I have also used is as a “Yes or yes” conversion tactic where I have given people the option to click the link or to share the photo which has worked really well.
Either way. Work around time!!
1. How to work with click baiting links
My advice to counter the click baiting algorithm are these:
1. Use related posts at the bottom of each of your pages in order to keep users at your website for a longer time.
2. Implement Facebook comments in order to give Facebook more signals about how people interact with your content
3. Make sure to ask a closed question as simple as “Do you like 1 or 2″ in order to get more interaction on your posts
This might not produce the most valuable content for the end user. Nor might it not be the best for the site owner. But it will counter the algorithm change if you want to do it.
2. How to work with the image caption challenges
Naturally this is a move by Facebook to get you to use the OG-meta. And that is the solution I will give you. The way to get around this is to do the following:
1. Implement full OG-meta landing pages for all of your campaigns – Get code here - and make sure you size your images correctly and use your promotional photo as the OG-image.
2. Publish photos without the link but use text such as “Visit our website for full terms and conditions. Link can be found in our bio.”
3. Use mobile cloaking based on UTM-tags, where you serve a different kind of content for visitors coming through different kind of tagged links
Either way. These changes will not solve the challenges Facebook is describing, but they will just serve the purpose of integrating your website more into the nest of the Facebook economy. When will Facebook do something cool again? When will they give us more customisation options and ability to get ads from companies we really like. I sure as hell like a great offer. Still, in 2014, Facebook has never asked me which of the Brands I like, I really want offers from…