Facebook’s click-bait crackdown is a catch-22 for brands

The first stone in the war on click-bait has been cast by Facebook. The platform has a history of dictating how publishers can share content, making small tweaks to the algorithm that penalizes content shared in a way Facebook does not prefer. Today’s announcement is sending digital marketers scrambling to revise how we share content yet again.

It was announced that posts suspected of being click-bait will be penalized in the news feed algorithm, preventing them from being served up as often simply because they have a high click-through rate.

Facebook clickbait crackdownClick-bait, as described by Facebook

So far so good, right? Less click-bait-y posts means less clutter for brands to break through. The update came with a part two that might not be as beneficial to brands, though.

For the last year or so, brands have been encouraged by Facebook to focus on visuals when posting. The news feed has adapted to accommodate this, with the space allocated for images increasing. In turn, brands have adapted, as they do, to Facebook’s suggestions and many have been posting like this:

Facebook penalizes clickbait

This appears to be the best of both worlds: A large, beautiful image, text to describe the article plus a trackable link to the article in question. This makes sense for a lot of brands, especially those who place a lot of stock into visuals and use Facebook as a way to share out content from their website. Food brands (QSR / CPG) in particular appear to have benefited from this way of sharing content – it allows for larger-scale “food porn” that has the tendency to interrupt in the news feed while also allowing for clickthrough to a website – generally for a recipe.

“With this update, we will prioritize showing links in the link-format, and show fewer links shared in captions or status updates.”  – Facebook

Facebook did some research, however, and claims that users don’t like to see their content in this way anymore. Instead of having a link embedded in an image caption, Facebook recommends link-based posts. According to Facebook, this format improves the user experience both on desktop and mobile: all users will get increased information about where they’re clicking while mobile users will find it easier to click on a link post vs. link in a photo caption.


If you’re currently considering a serenade of Quit Playing Games With My Heart to the Facebook gods at your desk, you’re not alone. Yes – digital marketers like to be nimble, quick, adaptable. But this change forces us all to go back to our content plan for yet another time this year to make sure our clients are not affected by yet another algorithm change.

What do you think: will this change impact how you feel about the Facebook experience? Will you change your content strategy to abide by this new tweak?