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Facebook Sets Its Sights On "Engagement Bait"

Facebook has taken aim at its latest threat: Facebook engagement bait.

In an effort to create a News Feed filled with meaningful conversations instead of gimmicks and cheap tricks, Facebook announced that it will be “demoting individual posts from people and Pages that use Facebook engagement bait.”

Facebook’s buzzword in 2017 was authenticity, and for good reason. With growing competition from other social media sites like Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat, standing out is key to their long-term success.

What is engagement baiting?

Broadly, it’s any spammy post that goads users into liking, commenting, or otherwise engaging. It aims to trick the algorithm into thinking that a post is organically popular.

You’ve seen them on your feed:

  • “Like this if you’re currently rocking a ponytail.”
  • “Share if you remember Lite Brite!”
  • “Tag a friend who needs to see this dancing banana.”

In their December 18th blog post, Facebook mentions five types of engagement bait.

  1. Vote Baiting
  2. React Baiting
  3. Share Baiting
  4. Tag Baiting
  5. Comment Baiting

Facebook’s article also clearly explains what isn’t engagement baiting: “posts that ask people for help, advice, or recommendations such as circulating a missing child report, raising money for a cause, or asking for travel tips.”

What it means for you

Rolling out slowly, Facebook will use a machine-learning model to identify and demote posts from individuals and Pages that use engagement bait.

Those posts will show up less in the News Feed, be seen by less of your target audience, and ultimately impact the effectiveness of your social efforts. Eventually, Facebook will be “implementing stricter demotions” at the Page-level for those who are guilty of repeatedly using engagement bait.

Make no mistake, this is just the start. Facebook has made it clear with their work in 2017 targeting clickbait and links to low-quality websites that they take these initiatives seriously.

Stefania Sainato, Audience Development Manager for New York based blog,, says, “Facebook's penalization of pages that consistently use "engagement bait" tactics to manipulate the algorithm and artificially gain reach has been a long time coming. The latest machine-learning update underscores that there are no shortcuts to authentic engagement and building a loyal fan base.”

This announcement makes clear the consequences at stake for Pages who currently use this tactic. Engagement baiting is a pretty solid indicator that a post links to a site with low-quality content and, while they’re not outright banned yet, these types of posts will now detrimentally impact your brand.

Tara Teng, Miss World Canada 2012 and founder of Justly , an online ethical marketplace states, "The worst part about these bait tactics is that, while it may increase page views, it fails to foster true engagement and build a sense of belonging to a brand. This is a disservice to both the client and the company because they miss out on the opportunity to build relationships and community."

Your social strategy moving forward

It’s as simple as this: Publish quality content.

As you build out your 2018 social strategy and content calendar, your community building efforts should focus on attracting participants on the basis of your content’s quality, integrity, and (here’s that word again), authenticity. Facebook values content that matches the premium social environment they seek to achieve.

So build out posts that provide relevant information, provoke thought and discourse, and create a real emotional connection between the consumer and your brand.