Messenger Marketing + Compliance: What You Need to Know About Engagement Bait and Facebook ToS
Let’s talk about every marketers favorite topic… compliance.
There’s been a lot of recent news about Facebook’s efforts to get rid of engagement bait and plenty of questions around Facebook Messenger Marketing compliance.
If you do any sort of Facebook advertising whatsoever—and especially if you’re using ManyChat’s “Facebook Comments” growth feature—then this is something you NEED to be aware of.
So first let’s get on the same page. What is “engagement bait”, exactly?
Basically it’s any post that tries to generate inauthentic likes, comments, clicks, or shares.
For example, it could be a post that says something like…
- LIKE this post if you’re a Taurus to find true love!
- SHARE this post with 10 friends for a chance to win a new iPad!
- TAG a friend who looks like the girl in this video!
Here’s the official December 2017 announcement from Facebook with some examples. In the announcement, Facebook tells us that they “will begin demoting individual posts from people and Pages that use engagement bait.”
And here’s an example of what engagement bait might look like in action:
No doubt you’ve seen these in your own newsfeed from time to time. And if you’re like us, you don’t really care for them. Sort of the Facebook equivalent of those old email forwarding scams (“Forward this to 10 people or you’ll never meet your soulmate!”).
Now that you know what engagement bait is, let’s talk about why Facebook has such a problem with it (and why it’s something you need to be concerned about in your marketing).
Why Facebook Hates The Bait
To understand why Facebook is cracking down on engagement bait, let’s look at it from their point of view.
In a nutshell, Facebook’s business model is fairly simple.
They’ve created a service that people enjoy using. And while they have your attention, they take advantage of the opportunity to put relevant offers and content in front of you.
Basically, they show you ads and content that they think you’re going to like and click on.
And Facebook is really good at showing us things we like. Why? Because they have a massive amount of data on each and every one of us. They know what kinds of things we tend to click on, what kind articles we tend to read, and what kind of videos we tend to watch.
(That’s where the Facebook algorithm comes in.)
But if you think about these “engagement bait” posts—what they’re doing is basically giving Facebook bad data.
These aren’t posts that you WANT to engage with. You aren’t engaging with them because they bring you joy or because you love seeing them. You’re engaging with them because they’re baiting you to do so.
In other words, these posts probably don’t improve your experience on Facebook. If anything they do the opposite.
And that’s why Facebook is penalizing any post that uses engagement bait.
What Does This Have To Do With Messenger Marketing?
So how does this apply to Messenger Marketing?
Take a look at this simple bot I created – I call it “SpamBot 5000.” And SpamBot 5000 is using the “Facebook Comments” growth tool.
Here’s an example of that tool in action. First, you see this post in your newsfeed:
Then when you comment “YES,” the SpamBot automatically sends you this message through ManyChat:
A lot of marketers love the Facebook Comments growth tool because it’s a really low-friction way to build your ManyChat subscriber list.
But you need to be careful with the way you set this up. You want to avoid doing anything that Facebook might construe as engagement baiting.
You may or may not realize it, but when you created your Facebook page you agreed to their policies. And one of those policies states that you will not ask people to like, share, or comment in exchange for free stuff.
Take another look at how I worded that post:
A lot of people are using this sort of pattern combined with the Facebook Comments growth tool. Is it comment baiting? Would Facebook penalize this post?
Well…it’s up to interpretation, to an extent. We can’t say for sure if Facebook would demote this post or not.
But what we CAN do is walk you through a few things you can do to make posts like this even more compliant—and, in a lot of ways, even more effective to your marketing.
Facebook Messenger Marketing Compliance: Staying Facebook-Compliant With Comment-to-Messenger Ads
When creating a Facebook post—and this applies whether you’re using Messenger Marketing or not—you want to build everything on the philosophy around having good conversations with people.
If you do that, you are going to WIN on this medium.
So think about it from that perspective and take another look at the post I created:
The first paragraph in this post is actually pretty good. It asks a question on an important topic. It makes you think. It’s a good way to start a conversation.
However, the second sentence kinda ruins it. It distracts from the question and appeals to the instant gratification part of your brain. Instead of starting a conversation, it cheapens the interaction to “give me a comment and I’ll give you something free.”
There’s another mistake being made here, which is that it doesn’t explicitly tell people that this page is going to contact them via Messenger if they leave a comment.
Anytime you create a Facebook Comments growth tool in ManyChat, we make you check this box:
We require this because we know it’s something Facebook cares about. And that means it’s something YOU should pay attention to why you create your ads and posts.
In the post created above, we sort of imply that we’re going to follow up in some way after you comment…but we don’t say so explicitly. And we don’t tell you which channel we’ll use to do it (Messenger).
So what would be a better way to write that post?
Take a look at this one:
Notice how this post does things a little differently. Specifically, this post is more:
We’re still opening with a thought-provoking question: What do you think of copying and pasting emails into Messenger and just using Messenger as an email repeater for your subscribers?
But then we don’t cheapen the conversation by asking you to make some mindless reply. Instead, we leave the question open-ended—which is a great way to make the post more conversational.
It’s also more explicit about what will happen next, after you comment. We specify that “we’ll follow up with you in Messenger with our thoughts.” So nobody will be surprised when Messenger pops open a few seconds after they leave their comment.
Facebook Messenger Marketing Compliance: Always Seek Out Quality Engagement & Long-Term Relationships
If you’re ever unsure of what to write in a Facebook post, always err on the side of seeking out quality engagement and long-term relationships.
Note that said quality, not necessarily quantity.
Sure, engagement bait-type posts are able to generate a lot of subscribers (at least they used to be, before Facebook started cracking down on them). But they also tend to create a lot of short, superficial conversations and low-quality leads.
That’s not what you want, and that’s not what Facebook wants.
Instead you should be seeking quality over quantity. And don’t just seek to grab attention—seek to retain that attention by continuing to deliver value and building long-term relationships with people.
Because after all, isn’t that the whole point of Facebook? To be a place where we can connect with the people, groups, and brands we care about?
So keep that in mind when you’re doing any kind of Facebook marketing. This isn’t the place to try to spam as many people as possible. That won’t work today, and it probably will never work again. The world’s just too competitive for that junk.
But if you can engage with people in an authentic way, a way that makes them feel like they’re being heard, and have a conversation with them that can help them make progress in some area of their life…
…then you’ll have a customer for life.
Do it over and over and over again, and you’re on your way to creating an amazing business.