Did you think webspam is only on Google's Search Results Pages? Then it will interest you to know that Facebook is now hitting hard against spammy content as they recently announced that they are currently battling News Feed spam!
When in the recent past, Google came out hard against webspam; many thought it was simply a fight against search engine optimization. To them SEO has run its course and therefore "SEO is now dead." Unfortunately, a lot of the spammy culture has gradually shifted to social networking sites because of the very important role that social media is presently playing in online commerce and in search rankings.
Facebook, in a recent released, has made it clear that they are ready to fight this menace. Announcing this, Erich Owens, Facebook’s Software Engineer, and Chris Turitzin, Product Manager, wrote:
"The goal of News Feed is to deliver the right content to the right people at the right time so they don’t miss the stories that are important and relevant to them.
Today we are announcing a series of improvements to News Feed to reduce stories that people frequently tell us are spammy and that they don’t want to see. Many of these stories are published by Pages that deliberately try and game News Feed to get more distribution than they normally would."
From the above, it is clear that the spammy content facebook is targeting is basically brand stories distributed by brand pages in a bid to game Facebook’s News Feed. These come in 3 broad areas namely:
As all content creators know, the purpose of a link-bait is to get people to Like, comment on, or share a piece of content. Since Facebook's algorithm rewards posts that generate more engagement, many marketers now use this tactic to explicitly ask News Feed readers to like, comment or share their posts in order to get additional distribution beyond what the post would normally receive.
If you are managing a facebook page and you are using any such covert tactic then it is time to make a u-turn because the new improvements from facebook are designed to better detect such spammy content.
Here's an example:
2. Frequently Circulated Content
When you post something on facebook you expect people to reshare that content. However, some brands now misuse this by uploading photos or videos over and over again to facebook. Facebook has added these as part of the News Feed spam that must be removed.
3. Spammy Links
According to facebook these are links posted to mislead users into clicking to a web page that offers no real value to the user. To better detect these type of spammy links facebook reported they are using the number of users who end up liking or sharing the original post as a gauge to know if such a link was spam or not. And thus far there is already a 5% increase in users clicking on links that take them away from Facebook an indication that users are finding content in their News Feeds to be much more trustworthy.
So, How Do You Stay On The Clean Side?
Though facebook has made it clear that if you are not posting feed spam you will never be negatively impacted by these changes, it is important you know how facebook is doing this so you can stay clean always. You should understand that this move by facebook will increase in tempo in the days ahead and, like Erich Owens and Chris Turitzin clearly stated:
"Frequently and intentionally creating feed spam will see their distribution decrease over the next few months. We’re making these changes to ensure that feed spam content does not drown out the content that people really want to see on Facebook from the friends and Pages they care about."
I’m sure you don’t what to be caught unawares, right?
That is why you should study how Facebook determines what is spammy content?
For that, let's turn to another post done earlier by Varun Kacholia, Engineering Manager for News Feed Ranking. In that post Varun said:
"While the goal of News Feed is to show high quality posts to people, we wanted to better understand what high quality means. To do this we decided to develop a new algorithm to factor into News Feed. To develop it, we first surveyed thousands of people to understand what factors make posts from Pages high quality."
And here are the questions they asked people to determine that?
- Is this timely and relevant content?
- Is this content from a source you would trust?
- Would you share it with friends or recommend it to others?
- Is the content genuinely interesting to you or is it trying to game News Feed distribution? (e.g. asking for people to like the content)
- Would you call this a low quality post or meme?
- Would you complain about seeing this content in your News Feed?
If you're familiar with what Google is using in fighting search engine optimization spam you will agree that this is really not different. So, if you take the same precautions you are presently using to avoid being hammered by Google you will definitely escape being hit by facebook’s News Feed antispam policy.
Spam, whether in search engine results or Facebook News Feed, is one and the same and therefore we must all join Facebook and Google in fighting the war!
Share your experiences about Facebook News Feed spam if you have encountered any out there. Share in your comments below.