Engagement Bait Penalties on Social Media

Posted by Magiweb on October 24, 2019
Engagement bait tricks people into engagement with a post to boost their social media status, by asking for things like reactions, comments, shares or other typical engagement markers in terms of data. Quality engagement is the biggest sign of a successful company with real figures to draw from. It’s also very rare these days.

Defining Engagement Bait

Around 2016 or so, someone figured out they could force engagement and it caused a reaction by Facebook who made announcements in response to it, and their plan of action against it – finding it an abuse on their users.
It could be asking their visitors to vote on a poll using reactions, or to voice their opinion using them, or asking for likes for a contest nobody can prove is even real. Facebook didn’t like it, and hasn’t from the start. They’ve said they weren’t going to put up with the abuses on their users anymore and would roll out penalties to those who continued the practice. While there was a large, and immediate reduction in these types of posts, they’re still seen today.

What Color Is Your Aura?

This sort of personality test, and plenty of others just like it –

- What character from Disney would you be?
- What element are you?
- What fantasy creature would you be?
- What is your Patronus?
- Where is your dream vacation?
They seem so harmless at first, and most will just answer the questions to get the fun answer at the end, thinking nothing of the event. Stop for a moment and consider the kinds of questions those ‘innocent’ personality tests ask. Most of them are the very security questions some may choose for their username/password combinations. This data, taken individually, like only having the answers from one battery of personality test via that method, and only 16 questions long, may not prove terribly damaging. When this information is combined with any other type of test taken, or anything else the user has given up their details to, it’s not harmless anymore.

This is what worried Facebook early on; that marketers who were less ethical would have access to a large data pool they should never see, which gives them unfair access into a person’s life. When it began to work well – giving super-targeted results which were paying off, everyone started using it; including Facebook themselves ironically, because their “Did You Know” which is an endless set of questions tied to a user’s personal profile, on the left side beneath their friends somewhere. The more a user answers, the more they reveal, for purposes not entirely ethical when it comes to sales, or even one’s own security. Answering sensitive questions freely or easily available to many, is a sure way to be targeted.

People Have Had Enough

Facebook has provided a direct response for feedback about the things they wanted to see most, and what they really don’t want to see anymore in order to deliver on what Facebook feels is their promise to their users. Every single dislike has been caused by overzealous, greedy advertisers who have ruined it for everyone else who have been doing business above-board, causing many to need to rewrite their entire marketing plans.
In response to those complaints, Facebook has a system for determining penalties, and the order of severity. Spam tops everything!

A. Clickbait
B. Engagement bait
C. Unsubstantial pages/cluttered with ads
D. Unethical Pages

How to Gain Your Social Edge

Facebook’s point has been to create a meaningful place online for friends and family to share the things which matter the most. Being hypertargeted by businesses doesn’t fit into their model, unless – it’s them doing it. They can, however, penalize others who choose to.

Many of Facebook’s regular users who are online daily or nearly daily will have noticed their surveys and questionnaires asking for participation so they can figure out how to fix what they feel is broken with their system. Much like Facebook, a marketer or business with an online presence can fix what they feel is broken within their own system. If a company had been using bait prior, it’s not too late to stop and strongly urged to.

All the social media giants want people publishing content to create the highest quality content they are able, because if their site becomes known as an authority on something, it quickly becomes popular. The better off the site does from this, the better off the publisher does as a result. Due to a huge lack of originality on the part of many publishers/posters, there became a need for further response. Facebook removed the ability of Instant Articles and third party video creators to generate income to the posters and are making it harder for people who will continue to break the rules by adding new penalties and introducing demotions to force compliance.

Real Engagement/Real Stats

A company cannot hope to grow using false data, which is all that bait brings in the end. True engagement occurs when people are having a conversation below a post, and genuinely reacting to the content within the post. The best way to do this, has always been to write with quality in mind, and with no intent to deceive or mislead. Invite the people on social media to enjoy the success of the business through quality posts, which inspire a person to react or to comment.

A great ice breaker to get people talking is an ‘ask us anything’ post, but ask for responses via private messaging, so nobody can see if it fails. It might take some time to get it right, but since real data will come from the visitors, a company can change what isn’t working until it does.
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