Is Your Digital Marketing Strategy Guilty of Using Engagement Bait?

Author: David McMillin       

Standing out from the crowd on Facebook is not an easy task. As event marketers work to spread the word about upcoming registration deadlines, their posts are often lost in prospective attendees’ news feeds. Those seemingly endless displays are cluttered with images of their friends at parties, political comment wars between old college classmates, and calendar reminders about other upcoming events. In an effort to get those thumbs to stop scrolling, it’s tempting to resort to a tried-and-true tactic: Offer a chance to get something at no cost.

“Click share to tell your friends why you’re going to the annual meeting for the chance to win a FREE hotel room!” a promoted post might read.

“Comment below,” another might say, “and you could be one of the lucky fans chosen for a complimentary four-day registration pass to this year’s conference!”

These posts might sound exciting at first glance, but Facebook is not thrilled about these types of offers. The social-media giant calls this activity “engagement bait,” and at the end of 2017, the company announced plans to take that bait off the hook. “To help us foster more authentic engagement, teams at Facebook have reviewed and categorized hundreds of thousands of posts to inform a machine learning model that can detect different types of engagement bait,” Henry Silverman, operations integrity specialist at Facebook, and Lin Huang, an engineer at Facebook, wrote in a blog post. “Posts that use this tactic will be shown less in News Feed.”

Capturing Attention with Authenticity

Rather than rely on financial discounts or the potential for winning prizes, staying in Facebook’s good graces involves following one basic rule: Tell stories that can start a real conversation. “We are in the business of connecting people with the stories they find most meaningful,” reads one of Facebook’s Publisher Guidelines. “Publishers should ideally focus on what they do best; making the important and meaningful stories interesting to their audience.”

For marketers in the business events industry, there is no shortage of talking points that can tell those stories. From preview interviews with notable names on the agenda to videos from the previous year’s conference, organizations have a stockpile of material that can resonate with online audiences without playing any tricks on their eyeballs.

Interested in more help with your organization’s digital strategy? Facebook’s Publisher Guidelines offer a number of tips for making sure that a page is not demoted due to clickbait or engagement bait.

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