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Meta cracks down on ‘watchbait’ videos

Shocked Web Guy

Meta cracks down on ‘watchbait’ videos

Businesses and organisations that post videos on Facebook should take heed, as social media giant Meta has now announced a crackdown on what it considers to be ‘watchbait’ videos.

Watchbait is, essentially, the video equivalent of the well-known clickbait, wherein certain tactics are employed to encourage as many people to click through – or in this case, watch a video – as possible. Such tactics often include key information about the video being withheld, content being sensationalised and viewers being misled about a video’s true nature.

According to Meta, watchbait tactics can be used in any part of a video, which includes the content itself, the title, the text or the thumbnail. Feedback from Meta users has revealed that they dislike this and do not want to see watchbait-style videos on their feeds, and so Meta is cracking down on it.

In a statement, Meta explained its new approach, saying it will now be using:

“A system that detects watchbait holistically across a video post and, if detected, reduces its distribution. Videos that are considered watchbait may not be recommended to viewers and/or may receive limited ranking. And repeatedly posting watchbait may result in that Page’s overall distribution being reduced.”

Meta has provided some guidance on how to avoid falling into the trap of a watchbait-style video. Pages should avoid withholding important information in order to create a “curiosity gap” to encourage people to watch a video in full to understand the situation, using sensationalism, be that extreme language or exaggeration, and deceiving or misleading people in relation to the outcome of a video.

In addition, titles like “Their Reaction Was Priceless!” and “And then they did this!” are watchbait examples. Any thumbnails that indicate something happens in the video that actually doesn’t, or any video descriptions or titles that do the same, should also be avoided.

Guidance on what to do to avoid watchbait includes accurately setting expectations through titles, descriptions, headlines and captions, along with using thumbnails that display actual content from the video being posted.

It seems that Meta is taking watchbait seriously, and businesses should too if they don’t want their reach to reduce. If you need help with increasing your business’ reach on the web, speak to our team at Engage Web today.

Emily Jones

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