Facebook recently announced that they’re now taking into account the time spent on a story. Even if the viewer doesn’t ‘Like’ or comment on the post, they’ll still give some weight to the fact that they spent time reading it, which means they were engaged by it. This builds on the previous August update for click-bait content which assumed content was likely click-bait if the user clicked the link and then came straight back to Facebook, indicating what they found was not what they’d been hoping for.
So what do these changes mean for your content? Lets take a look at how to best work with these changes to the Facebook news feed.
Thin Is No Longer In
With these changes in place we now know that thin content simply won’t work. Anything that can be consumed in short order simply shouldn’t be shared as a link. A short blurb on your website? Put it in a status update instead. A photo on the web? Picture post instead. Before sharing, we need to consider how long it will take the viewer to consume the piece. If it’s less than a minute or two, think about other ways we can share it that either keeps them on Facebook or extends the time spent on your site. You can turn content to a picture or video and share it on the Facebook platform. You could add more to the page you’re linking to. Or maybe, it’s just not something worth sharing (lets be honest, there is a lot that gets shared that never needed to be and only hurt the future reach of the brand sharing it).
In addition to thin content, not setting the correct expectations for what the user is getting (click-bait) will also hurt our organic reach. Make sure the link share headline, image, and description give the user a clear idea of what they’ll be getting. If you’re sharing a link to a site other than your own and find they didn’t go a great job with the schema, edit it to be more informative (this is also an opportunity to make it more appealing and increase your CTR). If it’s your own site and the schema isn’t the best, change it on your site rather than just for your own Facebook post. Others sharing it won’t likely change it and Facebook will write-off the link for others that share it too after noting the click-bait performance for their sharing.
In the end, the message Facebook is sending is clear; users want to be able to consume quick content on the site. Many marketers are focused on making snackable shares for their followers but Facebook (and its users) have spoken. They don’t want to go to your site if they can get it quicker and easier on the site they’re already on. And can you really blame them? Think about your own experience. Would you rather see something on the site you’re on now or be directed away for a few moments and then have to close a window to come back? Most of us certainly wouldn’t choose to consume content in this way.
By putting some consideration into our content before sharing, we can get the best performance from our Facebook posts and make our audiences happy in the process.