This article was prompted by a question I asked on Facebook yesterday:
I’m sure you’ve heard of clickbait – where a company will post an ad that says something along the lines of “You’ll never guess what happens next..!” or “This is crazy!!!” They don’t tell you anything of substance, they just tease you into clicking the link to learn more. Clickbait. Man, I hate it!
There's a new bait in town
But this time it’s engagement bait, and man, does Facebook and Instagram hate it! Oh boy, do they ever!
So, what exactly is engagement bait? And why should you care?
Engagement bait is where you use certain words to attempt to coerce people to engage with your social media posts (versus clickbait which coerces you to click through to a landing page).
You see, back in January 2018, Facebook changed their algorithms – and this time it was not just a little tweak – it was huge! They wanted to start, as Zuckerberg put it, “focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions.”
And the uproar ensued..!
But, not with me. I was ecstatic! Since I began working professionally in social media back in 2008, I believed and taught that it should be used to actually BE social with one another – not blatantly promote yourself with no real engagement being had – especially not in organic posts.
Fortunately, during my tenure with realtor.com, I had quarterly meetings with Facebook marketing department and I knew that their “meaningful interaction” changes were coming six months in advance of the notification being made (P.S., I still have regular meetings with them, which, as you can imagine, is a HUGE advantage in staying current with changes about to happen). So I began implementing how my team could best utilize this advanced knowledge and started right away on making changes to how we posted content – especially the messaging.
Before we knew it, our engagement rate went through the roof (and our competitors were dropping). And, I was even more ecstatic!
But, the most important thing we learned (and as of my meeting with Facebook yesterday, is still very much in effect today) was to not include three specific words in our messaging.
So, what are these three things?
Consider, for a moment, what an offline social interaction looks like. If someone came up to you and instructed you exactly what to do, you’d probably balk and walk away, right? This is exactly what Zuckerberg doesn’t want you to do on Facebook (or Instagram) either.
Just as you would expect offline, when you’re starting an interaction with someone on online your hope is to have the other person respond because they want to, not because you tell them to. So using these three words is not only a natural thing to say, but it will absolutely make your post get in front of less eyeballs than if you were not to use these three words.
Each of these words is like a curse being placed on your social post. But, the good news is, you can still engage with people in a meaningful way by being more natural in your desire to have someone respond back to you.
The first may seem super obvious, but it’s worth stating. If your content is not thought provoking or valuable, people will just keep scrolling.
Asking questions naturally evokes a response, but I would caution you about what kind of questions you ask. If you are in real estate, for example, it would make more sense to ask questions surrounding that subject. An example of this would be something like “How old were you when you bought your first house?” A question about what your favorite breed of cat is, for example, would be weird and come across as almost desperate for engagement.
Meaningful interactions doesn’t mean ask a question and then move on without paying attention to what the responders are saying. Again, if you could imagine this in a real life scenario, it would be kinda rude, right? So, make sure you respond to each answer… in a meaningful way. Not just an emoji or a click of the like button.
Lastly, you can encourage people to respond by using more natural language as noted above. It really does sound more friendly versus just saying “Click the button,” or “Like this…“.
I love to help people with their social media marketing, so please feel free to either contact me or reach out with the yellow icon at the bottom of the screen.
I really hope this helps, but more so, I really hope you take these words out of your online vocabulary, put the above suggestions in place, and see how your engagement improves!