We’ve all seen them, and we’ve all been annoyed by them. Misleading headlines. Headlines that leave out critical information. Headlines that over-promise and under-deliver.
She put an egg in the microwave, and THIS happened.
This picture of a flower will restore your faith in humanity.
And so forth.
It turns out Facebook is as fed up as you probably are. It certainly knows that its users are fed up. They’ve been complaining.
As a result, Facebook will be changing their algorithm to remove click bait headlines from their news feeds. According to Forbes, Facebook is doing whatever it can to ensure that the typical user’s feed contains only “authentic” communication that is truly interesting.
What does this mean to companies who are currently using social media to promote their content marketing efforts?
Facebook’s algorithm will be looking for specific phrases.
Click bait headlines usually recycle the same set of phrases over and over again. To make sure that your company doesn’t get penalized by the new algorithm shift you will want to avoid headlines that use phrases like:
- “You won’t believe…”
- “…this happened next…”
- “change your life.”
- “weird trick”
- “will restore your faith in humanity”
- “secrets [someone] doesn’t want you to know”
- “everyone is talking about”
- “One powerful”
- “The only”
Companies that promote ways to make money or lose weight will want to be exceptionally careful, as these particular niches are known to abuse click bait headlines.
One powerful standby trick is probably okay.
See what we did there?
All joking aside, many click bait articles use the “list” format. You’ll read about the “15 Insanely Powerful Tricks that Will Help You Lose Weight,” or “45 Dogs that Will Restore Your Faith in Humanity.”
However, the list format is useful. Most people skim when they sit down to read a blog post. You can use numbers if they’re not outrageous, and if the rest of the headline is relatively straightforward. Numbers alone don’t make an article click bait…sensationalism and missing information does.
You’re not really losing anything here.
Click bait is a form of manipulation which can ultimately backfire. When customers click on these articles they often walk away from the experience feeling disappointed. They may even feel angry at themselves for falling for yet another click bait headline. Finally, the use of click bait makes your company look like an organization they don’t want or need to take seriously.
As you know, it’s not enough to get eyes on your website. Click bait may bring you traffic, but it doesn’t bring you trust.
Trust is what will make your customers take the next step in the process. It’s trust that gets them to sign up for your mailing list, contact you for an estimate, or even to move on and buy your products.
So you may have been relying on these headlines in the past, but that’s okay. Use this as an opportunity to take your content marketing in a new and ultimately more profitable direction.
Nobody knows the algorithm.
You may have to do some A/B testing to make sure that your content doesn’t get “eaten” by the new Facebook algorithm. While we can make educated guesses based on what Facebook has already told us, we don’t have the details of the algorithm itself.
As a result it may also be easy to make mistakes or to create headlines which run afoul of the algorithm, even if you’re writing your headlines in good faith. Thus, you should make a policy out of A/B testing all of your headlines.
This means at least some of your content will be seen, even if one of your headlines gets eaten. It also will teach you more about what your customers will respond to. As a result, you will be able to do a better job of writing headlines which will capture your target market.
Avoiding click bait has always been our strategy.
Our own clients won’t have to do anything different in response to this change. We’ve never believed in using click bait headlines in the first place.
Instead, we believe that the purpose of content is to inform and inspire readers. We step into the shoes of our client’s target customers in order to determine the questions they need to answer. We then answer those questions in a straightforward way. Often, we’ll use the question as our headline.
After all, if you’re curious about something or are seeking a specific piece of information then the exact question that’s on your mind does, indeed, make for a rather compelling headline.
The headlines that we write may not “shock and awe,” but they do convey the information that readers need to determine whether or not an article is going to be relevant to them or not.