Social media giant Facebook is constantly updating its algorithm to keep users happy. The latest change is a crackdown on "like-baiting."
Even if you don't recognize the term, you've seen this technique used by a lot of marketers: brands will often post a picture or video that's unrelated to their business or original content, and ask fans to like, share, or comment on it. The idea is to make such posts appear in users' News Feeds, so that their friends see the business page, and hopefully, start following it.
For a social media marketer, this technique sounds like a dream - it's an easy way to get more likes on your page and hopefully drive more people to your website.
At Ripley PR, we encourage strong social media engagement to our clients as a part of their B2B public relations strategies, and there's no doubt that effective social media marketing can drive website traffic and increase your business.
So why is "like-baiting" such a problem?
Often, it's used in a way that Facebook sees as spamming users.
According to the site, "like-baiting" posts are those that explicitly request likes, shares, and comments.
Many times, these posts are frequently-circulated photos, videos, or memes, and end up cluttering users' News Feeds.
Facebook users have complained about the number of unwanted posts that make it harder to see the content from friends and family - and even brands - that they really want to see.
What, then, does the crackdown on asking for likes and shares mean for social media marketers? Well, there's no doubt that it can be used in legitimate ways. Some brands use the technique to ask followers to help them win a contest or award; others use it as a way to track followers and offer a prize or discount in return. There is value in running such a campaign.
However, the crackdown means that most companies will probably have to find more creative ways to encourage this engagement. It doesn't mean that companies are discouraged from social media marketing; to the contrary, Facebook wants brands to continue using its site for that purpose. But companies will have to begin placing more of an emphasis on relevant, original content - and ask questions to encourage engagement, rather than just fishing for likes.
We think that social media marketing is an important part of any brand's marketing and PR strategy, and chances are that finding more creative ways to encourage engagement on Facebook will actually work to your benefit, rather than your detriment.