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Facebook News Feed Updates

Posted on 8.26.2014

Facebook is taking steps to improve the News Feed once again, and this time the social network is taking aim at “click-bating” headlines and shedding light on sharing links in posts.

For starters, Facebook defines click-baiting headlines as posts that contain a link and a headline that encourage people to click in order to see more. The headline, however, does not provide much information about what people will see when they click the link (see an image example below). These vague headlines tend to get a lot of clicks, which increases their visibility in the News Feed. This increased visibility can also disrupt the Facebook experience, as a study by the social network reveals that most people prefer headlines that contain information to help them decide if they want to read the full article before they click through.

Because of this, Facebook is taking steps to show less of click-bait articles in the News Feed. One way the social network is doing this is by monitoring the time people spend interacting with the content they click.

“If people click on an article and spend time reading it, it suggests they clicked through to something valuable. If they click through to a link and then come straight back to Facebook, it suggests that they didn’t find something that they wanted,” states the Facebook announcement. “With this update we will start taking into account whether people tend to spend time away from Facebook after clicking a link, or whether they tend to come straight back to News Feed when we rank stories with links in them.”

In addition to monitoring the time people spend with content, Facebook is also looking at the ratio of people clicking on the content compared to the people discussing and sharing the content with their friends. This is because people are more likely to take action (like, comment or share) after they click on and interact with valuable content.

Aside from taking aim at click-baiting headlines, Facebook is also shedding light on the best way for brands to share links within posts.

According to the announcement, people prefer to click on links that are displayed in the link format rather than links that appear in photo captions (the link format appears when users paste a link while drafting a post). People prefer the link format because it displays additional information associated with the link, making it easier for someone to decide if they want to click through. Moreover, Facebook notes that the link format makes it easier for someone to click through on mobile devices. Because of this, Facebook is beginning to prioritize content that uses the link format and will share fewer links that are shared in captions or status updates.

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