Facebook Graph API changes aren’t that bad

A closer look at what these changes really mean to advertisers

Facebook announced earlier this year that they would introduce changes to their Graph API and so they have. Since 19th July 2017, the ability to edit the title, description and thumbnail that comes up when you share a web page in a post, is no longer available. They explain these changes are part of their “efforts to stop the spread of misinformation and false news on our platform”.

Facebook Graph API

This is a reasonable response to a growing trend taking place all over the internet, not only on Social Media. The internet has transformed into a place where everyone – not just businesses – fights for a piece of your attention, which is only limited and therefore simply “posting” something out there isn’t enough – and hasn’t been enough for quite a while now. This gave birth to a new term: Clickbait. The “official” definition of Clickbait is “content whose main purpose is to attract attention and encourage visitors to click on a link to a particular web page”, however, this is a very charitable view of what Clickbait really is, or at least how it’s widely implemented – Swap the word “encourage” for “trick” and you’ll probably be closer to understanding what the problem is and what Facebook is trying to do with these changes.

Most marketers aren’t all that keen on these changes and say they are bad because Facebook is limiting our possibilities or freedom to post whatever we want. I’m somewhat surprised of this reaction. Here are 3 reasons why:

1- The digital marketing industry is an ever-evolving entity that never stays still and its changes are constantly provoked by what marketers need, what users want and where technology goes. Whoever complains about big, sudden changes, just doesn’t get the industry at all and is simply on the wrong side of history.

2- No one likes clickbaity stuff. Really, who likes to click on an article thinking they’re going to get the information they want/need only to find seconds later they’ve been tricked, yet again, to visit a poorly written piece – hosted in a dodgy site, surrounded by a million ads that oh, by the way, have nothing to do with the article or the user? Exactly, no one. So, if clickbaity stuff damages sites’ and businesses’ reputation and makes for a terrible user experience, how can anyone be against changes that prevent it?

3- If you’re relying on clickbaity images/titles to get people to visit your site, then you’re doing something wrong. You may be targeting the wrong audience, or maybe your content is not interesting enough, either way, you should focus on nailing both of them. In most cases, users know their favourite media outlets, youtube channels, facebook pages and twitter stars, which is to say that users consume content because it’s interesting and relevant to them, not because they’re constantly tricked into thinking content is interesting when it’s not.

From my point of view, there are 3 things you should focus on (and should’ve always focused on) to prevent this from affecting you:

  • Know your target audience and cater your content to them: Focus on knowing your ideal customer profile and make sure you create interesting, unique and relevant content to them. Also, I think it’s worth mentioning here that there’s a huge difference between provocative/interesting titles or images and clickbaity stuff. If your content is good, users will keep coming back to you and will almost take care of the promotion for you by sharing your content.
  • Have a properly optimised website: All Facebook does is pick up the information they display from the web page you’re sharing. This means that if you’ve optimised that page correctly, you shouldn’t really have to change the title, description or image on the Facebook post. Read Facebook API Changelog here.
  • Find additional/alternatives of promoting your content on Facebook: Try different features out to see which one is more successful for your business. For example, did you know that if you share a link on Facebook, you can add several pictures to it, and each one of them can have their own link and their title can be edited? aha! This means you can have a single post, with several articles, each one with a different picture and title of your choice, which means that’s a way to go around Facebook’s change – There’s a little nugget for the clickbait lovers…

All in all, this is a change that will make advertisers and business owners be more truthful, produce better content and create better websites. Who can be against that??