Every couple of years, Facebook has tried its best to crack down on clickbait in the Feed. Now Meta, Facebook’s parent company, is warning marketers to avoid a new tactic they call “watchbait.”
What is watchbait? According to Facebook, watchbait is video content that “intentionally withholds information, sensationalizes content, or misleads viewers into watching or engaging with the video.” Watchbait can happen in the title, caption, thumbnail or within the video itself.
Here are six examples Facebook cited as using watchbait:
- His Reaction Was Priceless!! 😂😂
- THIS IS THE WORST WAY TO WAKE UP!! 😂
- And then his GF did this!!!
- Absolutely mind-blowing details in the latest recipe from Kai!
- Your bestie just sent a crazy message to your girlfriend! 😰😰😰
- SHOCKING weather phenomenon could explode your plans!!!
What will happen if a Page uses watchbait? If Facebook’s system detects watchbait in your video, the company says it will limit how often it is recommended and its ability to rank. If you regularly post watchbait, Facebook may reduce your page’s overall distribution.
What not to do. In short, what should you avoid when publishing videos on Facebook? Don’t:
- Omit key information
- Use exaggeration
- Use extreme language
- Use excessive capitalization or emojis in the title
- Create misleading expectations
- Deceive users
- Use Photoshopped or cropped images that aren’t taken from the video as your thumbnail
- Portray staged, scripted or fake content as being real
What to do. So what should you do when publishing videos on Facebook? Do:
- Use accurate, informative headlines
- Add your voice
- Be original
- Be authentic
- Use actual clips from the video as your thumbnail
Why we care. Watchbait results in disappointed or frustrated viewers, as Facebook noted. We all know that clickbait works – that’s why Facebook has to make changes like this every couple of years. Always make sure you’re giving something of value to your viewer – something that is relevant, helpful, useful, or inspiring. Deception may be great in the short-term or even expected in some specific industries, but the question you have to answer is: is it worth potentially damaging or destroying your reputation (and your discoverability and visibility) in the long run?