The Facebook “best practices” you can throw out the window

by on October 1, 2014

Things are always changing over at Facebook.

All these changes can start to get frustrating to a busy small business owner. Perhaps it’s better to stop thinking of Facebook as a social media platform that can be mastered with an unchanging rule book and start thinking of it as a living breathing organism that will constantly grow and evolve with the times.

For the last little while, there were some “best practices” recommended to small business owners that you can now throw out the window. So let’s just say “Ixnay to the estbay acticespray”! Hoping this might sound so much more fun if written in pig latin 🙂

Ixnay to like-gating

Facebook has announced that they will no longer allow business pages to “like-gate.” This refers to the very common practice of offering something (eg. a discount, an e-book etc.) to a user in exchange for a “like.” Just thought I should give you the heads up in case this tactic was something being considered or perhaps being used already. It’s a very common practice that has long been accepted as a powerful way to get that like. Facebook is asking for Pages to come into compliance by November 5, 2014. It’s stated as such:

“You must not incentivize people to use social plugins or to like a Page. This includes offering rewards, or gating apps or app content based on whether or not a person has liked a Page. It remains acceptable to incentivize people to login to your app, checkin at a place or enter a promotion on your app’s Page. To ensure quality connections and help businesses reach the people who matter to them, we want people to like Pages because they want to connect and hear from the business, not because of artificial incentives. We believe this update will benefit people and advertisers alike.”

Facebook’s philosophy behind this is to stop (supposed) fans from liking a Page just for a reward because that’s not a true fan at all. The alternative recommendation is to continue beneficial interaction such as to invite people to sign up for your newsletter or provide feedback on a product. They’ve coined this type of interaction maneuver as “action-gating”.

Ix-nay to like-baiting or click baiting

“Like-baiting” is a post that explicitly asks someone to like, comment or share in order to get additional distribution. For example, you post something about your biz and write: “Please share  so that all can see. Would really appreciate this!” or “Hit like if you agree” or something to that effect. It was shown that this type of asking was effective at getting more interaction on a post.

While this could have seemed relatively harmless and perhaps a small biz owner would think this is an honest way to get someone to take action (dagnabbit!), Facebook is now considering this type of action as “spammy”.

Facebook is stating that it’s not going to be tough or focus on Pages that are being genuine, but will focus on those Pages that are consistently asking for likes/comments/shares.

Another even more intense tactic to like-baiting is “click-baiting” (While I wouldn’t consider this a best practice by any stretch of the imagination, it’s worth a mention here). It’s the (slightly sneaky) way of getting someone to click on your link by leaving mystery. It’s providing a link but not explaining exactly what the link is about. An example of this:


Facebook click baiting


…and it’s the link to my latest blog post. Kinda deceiving, eh? This is a fake post by the way 🙂

Facebook states that it will try to show fewer of these click-baiting links. Their reasoning is that Facebook users hardly seem content with the result of a click-bait, and after the original temptation of finding out the secret, quickly leave the link and don’t bother liking or sharing. Facebook has also surveyed users and found that people prefer knowing what a link is about so that they can decide before the click whether or not they are interested in reading it. Facebook says they’re going to suss this out based on how long someone actually stays on the page whether they like it or share it. More on this here.

Ix-nay to hidden links

The “hidden link” technique might be used by small business owners trying to get images up front and center. It’s when a picture is posted with a little message and a link alongside it; this technique would make the picture super big and noticeable in the Newsfeed. This is as opposed to just posting the link  in the Facebook link format where the link window is included underneath your message. Is this getting confusing? This is the difference:

Facebook Hidden Link

The above is an example of a “hidden-link”. I have uploaded the picture and then just put my blog post as a little shrunken link. Another way you can do this is to not have an image at all, making the post “text-only.” For a long while, these text only posts got MUCH better reach, as we talked about here. In the pages that I manage, I’m still noticing that these text only posts get significantly better reach, but we may see things shift over time as Facebook is making these tweaks to its newsfeed algorithm.


Facebook Link Preview

The above is an example of a normal Facebook link. I put in the URL for my blog post and this is the visual that Facebook automatically creates. It’s a little bit smaller and definitely more link-looking than the hidden-link post above.

Facebook states that it shows preference to the normal Facebook link to the hidden-link technique.

So, what are the consequences?

Loved this frank piece of advice from Jon Loomer in his article about the recent adjustments: “Marketers tend to overreact whenever such news is announced. Let’s not get crazy here.” – Jon Loomer

Was your small business using some of the “best practices” that are now being ixnay-ed? Then just tweak your posts slightly with the above advice.

The results if you don’t? Facebook is stating that it will be removing the ixnay-ed techniques from Newsfeed views. All small businesses on Facebook are trying to get as much visibility for their posts as possible, so it’s in your best interest to comply.

Things are always changing with Facebook’s algorithm. Images were getting more attention, so Facebook marketers adjusted their strategy to focus on those. Sharing content from other pages got you virtually no reach, while now that’s no longer the case. So it’s important to note that there are always adjustments happening and different pages will get different results. Just keep tabs on your Analytics to see the types of posts that are the most popular on your page, and focus on having fun, offering value and being genuine with your content.

On to you. What do you think about these changes Facebook is making? Do you think they will improve the Facebook experience? Meet you in the comments…

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