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Don’t Get Devalued: Avoid the Clickbait Facebook Filter

Don’t Get Devalued: Avoid the Clickbait Facebook Filter

By Shannon Pecora, MA, Social Media Manager

This weird trick...
...and you’ll never believe what happens next!
This shocking story…
...and the ending is just incredible!


Clickbait titles and headlines are exciting, and they’re meant to spark curiosity. Sure they seem enticing, but honestly, aren’t you sick of them? That means most other social media users are, too!

There are certainly people who are curious enough to click, but in general, more and more social media users can’t scroll past clickbait fast enough. The truth is, most of those purported shocking endings or life-changing conclusions turn out to be anticlimactic letdowns. They end up being predictable, unrealistic, or, perhaps worst of all, nothing more than sales pitches… and the top social networks are cracking down on these types of posts and on the accounts that post them.

Sensationalism and Scandal, Plus Corruption and Crime?

On a larger scale, these types of posts don’t provide the “meaningful interactions” that are among the refreshed goals of the Facebook platform. Plus, they’re among the type of posts that may be attached to “junk” apps, “fake news,” or scam links -- all of which could simply be banned from the social network, depending on potential policy and regulations stemming from the scandals and controversy brought to light this year.

Relying on this sensationalism hurts your credibility and creates a sense that you’re extreme. For veterinary hospitals, this can spell doom because pet owners need to trust you and your stability if they’re going to come to you for pet care.

Be real on social media - no fake news for your practice!

...And With Just 10 Easy Payments…

Marketing and Social Marketing are siblings, but they aren ’t twins. That means that users come to social media with different expectations than they do to print or television ads. You can absolutely influence social media followers to make purchases from you, but your best sales efforts will work via influence, instead of via “Buy Now!” pitches.

Don’t try to make your followers and fans “Act Now!” with every post. Don’t tell them it is imperative to make a purchase immediately to avoid THIS ONE problem or achieve some AMAZING RESULT. Instead, focus over time on campaigns that illustrate and explain the benefits to their pets of whatever service or product you’d like to promote.

For example, the winter holiday season could include a series of posts about appropriate dog and cat toys: do’s and don’t’s, the benefits of bonding and play time, how your veterinary team can help assess fitness, toys in your practice’s retail collection, details about your emergency services, etc. Through November and December, pet owner social followers will learn from you why they should devote play time to their pets and the safest ways to play. They’ll be encouraged to schedule fitness and wellness exam appointments with you. They’ll realize that they can purchase holiday gifts for their pets from you. And they’ll know they can turn to your practice in the event of an accidental play time injury. Pet health and your profits are served well here, and nowhere did you have to say, “You’ll never believe what can happen if you let your cat play with THE WRONG TOY!”

Don't try to make people "Act Now!" with every post

Avoid Sales and Marketing Clickbait:

Pets absolutely adore THIS ONE THING that gives them CRAZY GOOD dental health!

Educate and influence your social followers instead:

Visit our office to see our selection of flavored pet-safe toothpastes. Chicken, beef, and salmon flavors will make tooth brushing easier on your pets and help maintain their dental health.

If She Had Followed This One Rule, She Would Have Prevented Complete Tragedy

A healthy dose of fear can work wonders for client compliance. You have models of heartworm-infested hearts, diseased dog jaws, and obese cats in your exams rooms for that exact reason. Pet owners often need to see the consequences of foregoing your recommendations to help them make the best decisions for the care of their precious dogs and cats.

But can you imagine looking at a client across an exam room table and shouting, “Only THIS METHOD is GUARANTEED to keep your pet from dying TODAY!”? A fear-mongering clickbait headline on Facebook or Twitter is the digital version of just that. These headlines are designed to be the social media version of yelling “Fire!” in a crowded movie theater. They are meant to incite at least a mild form of panic or anxiety and force a reaction. So you may end up getting some pet owners to do what you say right now, but they won’t do it in a thoughtful manner. They won’t truly understand why your recommendations are best for their pets, and once they have the chance to mull things over, they may resent you for capitalizing on their impulse. You’ll have to do the work all over again to educate them and create routine compliance. Fear is a motivator in the short-term, but it doesn’t set up a lifetime of good habits for the best pet care.

Avoid Fear-Mongering Clickbait:

Look Out For THIS ONE DEADLY Common Household Item Or Your Pets WILL NEVER BE SAFE!

Educate and empower your social followers instead:

Be sure to use only FDA-approved parasite control products. Home remedies, such as garlic or onion recipes, are not only ineffective, but they’re also quite dangerous. 

Medicine and Marketing can both be fear free

The Facebook News Feed Will Never Be The Same!

Yes, we just used a sensational, clickbait-style heading on you! That’s because we can’t ignore the big changes announced on Facebook just after the New Year -- and we can’t ignore the near-panic with which many marketing industry professionals reacted.

The facts: friend and family relationships and conversations will be valued higher, and Facebook will work to fill each News Feed with these posts. Clickbait headlines and titles don’t fit with those algorithm goals because these posts are impersonal, more meant for fleeting fun, fear, or sales than for creating deep bonds.

While Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg made the big announcement about algorithm changes in January 2018, several months earlier, they began filtering posts for the word “this.” No kidding, they filter posts on the basis of a single word. If you consider the structure of a clickbait post, you’ll see why that one word is so important: “Try THIS one tactic,” “Buy THIS product,” “Add THIS one thing to your beauty routine.” If you haven’t been working to actually be relevant to those who follow you on Facebook all along, you’ve probably already seen a drop in reach and engagement. But a truly simple shift from bait to bonding can bring about a boost.

Engagement Bait

Related to clickbait is “engagement bait,” in which you would directly ask for reactions or shares. Facebook is cracking down here, too, in an effort to foster more authentic relationships. Social Media Today explains:

Have you seen posts in your News Feed that start with “Like this if…” or “Share with a friend…”?
These types of posts will now be devalued as part of the latest News Feed update, meaning fewer people will see them. This change will impact both people and Pages which use this spammy tactic to get engagement. Facebook's taking this change seriously, and has even created a machine learning model that can detect distinct types of Engagement Bait. This will be used to further punish people or Pages who repeatedly use engagement bait in their posts.

So, What is THE ONE THING You Should Do?

Honestly, it’s more than one thing -- which is a great example of why clickbait is misleading! Draw your followers in and attract new fans with reason and intelligence. Be helpful, not sensational. Provide education and empowerment to increase compliance. You can accomplish that with various post types:

  • Links to reputable sources, including AAHA and AVMA.
  • Shares of reputable Facebook content, again from sources like AAHA and AVMA.
  • More original content with meaningful (to your audience) messages, and less content with the goal of organically reaching consumers with a sales message.
  • Questions, polls, and surveys that will encourage flowing conversation, let local pet owners relate to each other and to your practice, and provide you valuable demographic information.
  • Live videos that create buzz, give behind-the-scenes access, and encourage quality Q&A.
  • Sponsored Content and advertisements, which guarantee your place in targeted News Feeds.

Reputable sources and educational posts are part of effective marketing

When your veterinary practice really helps pet owners achieve “incredible results” and improve the lives of their fur babies, they’ll know it -- without you having to shout it out. You won’t sound like a tabloid, and you’ll gain high-quality social advocacy to boot. If there really is “ONE THING” you need to avoid, it’s clickbait!

Want to know more about how your specific social marketing efforts are working for you? A GeniusVets Performance Report will provide the insight you need to understand where you stack up in the veterinary digital marketing space!

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