Are you fed up of fake engagement on Facebook? These days it’s pretty hard to log on to your Facebook without seeing ‘tag that work colleague you couldn’t survive without’ or ‘like if you’re hungover this morning’, however, thankfully that’s about to change. The commonly held belief behind ‘engagement bait’ is that if you want to secure wider visibility for your brand page you should encourage fan interactions, such as shares and likes. If we are all honest shares are the panacea for any social media marketer, mainly because they receive the most points in Facebook’s algorithm. One share is reported to be worth 13 points, which is why we see so many of these spammy competitions.  Facebook has reported this week it is set to penalise accounts that encourage users to tag, like or comment on their posts to build fake engagement. This is simply phase two in its new mission to get rid of fake news from its platform, which I think is a good thing. I am sick of rubbish trashy stories that simply aren’t true. The whole system behind them is plain wrong and just a way for companies to spread crap on the internet and to secure increasing advertising revenues from people that have been duped into clicking. Facebook said:

“We will demote posts that go against one of our key News Feed values — authenticity…We want to reduce the spread of content that is spammy, sensational or misleading in order to promote more meaningful and authentic conversations on Facebook.”

So from now on, pages will have their overall reach penalised if they are seen to be begging for interaction. I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing but average organic page reach is already at 0.01% so it’s not that shocking. I’m actually in favour of this move – I am all for authenticity. I am sick of fake competitions and fake engagements that mean nothing, they actually make it harder for good quality organic content and clever campaigns. The competition spam is actually putting a lot of users off the social media channel as a whole. I know a lot of my friends have switched to using Instagram and Snapchat as their main platforms – that is because of nasty spammy content. It seems in 2017 we have now become jaded by the sheer volume of competitions and spammy like crap. Now don’t get me wrong – we do use competitions at Prohibition but in the last twelve months we have cut back quite a bit, where possible (cause some clients love a comp), because the engagement you get isn’t always from your customers – often it can be from “compers” (professional competition entrants that do it all day every day) and what good is that for your client or brand page? It isn’t – it is fake engagement. We can’t stop the compers trying their best but it doesn’t really help your business grow. The truth is the Facebook algorithm looks at every brand page and takes a long-term view on engagement and shares – so comps can help, but now every PR and marketer out there better start considering using their competitions just a little bit more strategically. If you are worried about breaching the rules you can always refer to the good old Facebook page guidelines.

About Chris Norton

Chris Norton is the founder of Prohibition and an award winning communications consultant with more than twenty years’ experience. He was a lecturer at Leeds Beckett University and has had a varied PR career having worked both in-house and in a number of large consultancies. He is an Integrated PR and social media blogger and writes on a wide variety of blogs across a huge amount of topics from digital marketing, social media marketing right through to technology and crisis management.