The health product industry is a juggernaut of the modern economy. People have a genuine desire to improve their health, and many health product manufacturers have marketing campaigns that speak to that desire. Coupled with the fact that natural supplements are a loosely regulated industry, consumers face a barrage of information that makes wild claims about the health benefits of a product. Facebook recently announced a crackdown on content on the platform that make sensational health claims.
Facebook and its related apps have come under fire in recent months for the amount of health misinformation that is spread on the platform. A substantial number of the health claims made on the platform have little evidence to back their supposed benefits, and worse still, some people on online platforms are promoting dangerous remedies that could severely harm people buy these products or use the techniques they find online. For example, YouTube was criticized recently for hundreds of videos that promote bleach as a cure to autism.
To reduce the spread of misleading medical information, Facebook has updated its algorithm to reduce the reach of posts that make sensational health claims. This effort will target marketing for dubious health products and for posts that make exaggerated health claims.
In a post announcing these updates, Facebook wrote, "In our ongoing efforts to improve the quality of information in News Feed, we consider ranking changes based on how they affect people, publishers and our community as a whole. We know that people don't like posts that are sensational or spammy, and misleading health content is particularly bad for our community. So, last month, we made two ranking updates to reduce (1) posts with exaggerated or sensational health claims and (2) posts attempting to sell products or services based on health-related claims."
By attacking the problem from both angles, Facebook should be able to reduce the amount of content published on its platform that makes sensational health claims. Page owners will see their reach decline if they publish posts with exaggerated claims, and product manufacturers will have a harder time marketing items that are based on these claims.
However, by not banning such posts and content outright, Facebook has ensured that these misleading health claims will remain on the platform and will continue to spread. There are entire groups built around people sharing sensational health claims about "the secrets big pharma doesn't want you to know."
Most businesses will not be affected by this algorithm change by Facebook. However, companies that sell natural health products and supplements will need to choose their words more carefully. Facebook hasn't made it clear where the line is on what constitutes a "sensational" health claim. At the very least, Facebook marketers will need to remove the term "miracle cure" from their lexicon. That phrase will always be a red flag for an algorithm monitoring for misleading health claims.
If your health-related Facebook page sees a decline in organic reach, it may be the result of this algorithm update. Take a look at your content and see if any health claims stray into the realm of exaggeration. Once you've removed any sensational health content, your post visibility will return to normal.
For more recent news about social media marketing, read this article on Facebook's new plan to address comment baiting.