Facebook has never been more difficult to use from a content and marketing perspective.
The target is always moving when it comes to what “success” looks like on Facebook, which can make life frustrating for the social media marketer. But, as I have said before, this is part of what makes Facebook fun for me. It feels like a game whose rules constantly change.
One of the most recent rule changes on Facebook is the suppression of content that includes “engagement bait.”
What Is Engagement Bait Generally?
Engagement bait is exactly what it sounds like: content on Facebook that is purposed to move people to engage with a piece of content.
Why would Facebook want to curtail this? Facebook rightly (in my opinion) wants content to encourage engagement organically. Engagement that occurs because an audience was goaded to engage isn’t really “organic” even if it wasn’t caused by ad spend.
Engagement bait are key words that are used to try to get Facebook users to engage with a particular piece of content. But what counts as engagement bait?
Here are three kinds of engagement bait you should avoid:
Asking someone to share a piece of content. For example, “Share if you think students should be able to take a mental health day!” along with an image of a student falling asleep in class.
Asking your audience to share your content will cause Facebook to decrease the reach of your content. It is baiting your audience to take an action, and Facebook wants to prevent this sort of content.
Asking someone to comment on a piece of content will also cause Facebook to limit the reach of that piece of content. Everything Facebook has published has supported this idea.
However, I have to add a bit of a caveat to this point.
Facebook is also putting a lot of weight on comments right now. They value comments highly right now. A friend showed me a piece of content from the other day in which he said, “Comment on this post for a free book.” The post had more reach than his average piece of content because it had so many comments.
So I am beginning to wonder if Facebook’s positive weighting of comments at the moment outweighs the negative weighting of “engagement baiting.”
That may very well be the case.
The third and final kind of engagement bait that Facebook has explicitly said is discouraged is asking people to like content. The same principle applies here as applied to asking people to share.
It is best to actually create good content with which people want to engage. You should not have to ask people to engage with your content. Your content should be created in such a way that people want to engage with it.
Chris Martin is the Co-Creator and Chief Content Officer at LifeWay Social as well as a Content Strategist at LifeWay. He and his wife Susie live outside Nashville, TN.