Have you ever been contacted by a content company seeking to publish content on your Facebook Page?
This is a growing scam – content farms will get in touch with Facebook Page managers and ask them to take part in a content sharing program, through which the Page will post their content, increasing reach for their work, and boosting engagement for the page.
Many blogs and publishers get contacted about this type of thing all the time – some content providers offering ‘unique and original’ content, aligned with your topic of focus, will ask for a backlink on your site, or a bio to help them boost their reach figures.
For me personally, the fact that someone feels the need to highlight that their content is ‘unique and original’ is an immediate red flag – I’ve pitched many publications in my time and I’ve never felt the need to reinforce that it is, in fact, my own original work.
On Facebook, this is becoming a particularly prevalent issue, and as part of their ongoing effort to clean up the platform, and reduce the spread of fake and misleading news, The Social Network has announced a new push to eliminate such schemes.
As explained by Facebook:
“Over the past few months, we’ve made updates to our Pages and our Branded Content policies banning Pages and Profiles from accepting compensation for systematically sharing large amounts of third party content, and we are increasing our enforcement efforts against such Pages and Profiles. These efforts align with our attempts to reduce clickbait on Facebook.”
So what, exactly, is Facebook going to punish – and how?
Facebook provides an outline of how a sharing scheme commonly works:
- Step 1: You (or your Page) are approached to join the program - An individual will reach out to you to discuss a business proposal, and will likely offer compensation for permissions to utilize your Page for posting content. The individual will claim to be ‘Facebook policy compliant’ and that their content will help your Page drive higher engagement – which can be particularly alluring in the wake of Facebook’s algorithm changes which have reduced Page reach.
- Step 2: You sign an agreement and grant them access to your accounts – Page managers are generally asked to grant these third parties access to their accounts for posting. “Typically, they will assign an account manager to work with you to “optimize the content” posted on your Page.”
- Step 3: Content begins to be posted on your Page and you receive compensation – Content starts appearing on your Page that you didn’t post. Page managers may also receive content to post on the providers’ behalf – they’ll generally be compensated based on how many clicks each post sees.
As noted, given Facebook’s algorithm shifts which have reduced Page reach, such schemes can be intriguing for some. But they are schemes, and any time you cede control to a third party, you’re likely getting into dangerous territory. Facebook, looking to eliminate the mass distribution of fake news and divisive content, really wants to get rid of this, and as such, they’ve improved their detection methods, and announced new punishments those Pages found to be involved.
And those punishments can be significant, particularly for those that have built a reliance on Facebook:
“If your Page has been identified as being involved in a sharing scheme and the behavior continues, your Page's distribution will be significantly reduced. This means that your posts will reach fewer people and accrue a much smaller number of views. Any scenarios that are in violation of our Pages terms are susceptible to having their distribution limited. Repeat abuse could also result in losing access to monetization features on Facebook.”
Really, such schemes seem highly questionable from any perspective – allowing a third party to take over your Page and post on your behalf, without any editorial oversight, is a recipe for disaster. But the Pages that are most likely to undertake such a process are likely less concerned about ongoing audience connection – it seems like more of a get rich quick scheme than a real, long-term business process.
If you are taking part in any such scheme, Facebook suggests that you stop and sever all ties with those providers. There is an appeals process if you feel you’ve been unfairly penalized, so there are options to consider if you do come under scrutiny. But the safest way is to just avoid such schemes altogether.
As with anything in digital marketing, and general life, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Someone offering you massive increases in Facebook traffic and engagement is not going to be some magician who’s ‘cracked’ the News Feed algorithm – more likely, they’re a scammer feeding you what they know you want to hear in order to facilitate their own gain.
View all offers of digital marketing optimization with a level of skepticism, and ensure you vet all sources, and you should be able to avoid the majority of these practices.