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Updated May 2018 

Facebook's Trigger Words

Here's the thing,  I'm in a lot of online groups and one of the things that people complain about on almost a daily basis is that their Facebook business page posts get almost no ‘reach' – they just aren't getting seen.  I think it's been pretty well documented at this stage that Facebook has definitely become a ‘pay to play' platform for businesses.

Facebook is a business and they are in it to make money (just like you are in your business to make money).  Basically, if you really want your promotional business posts seen by a large audience you need to pay for advertising or boost your posts, that's just the reality now on the Facebook platform.

Okay, I'm going to get  a bit nerdy on you here.

Facebook's trigger words – you are probably already thinking what on earth is she talking about?  Basically, a trigger words ‘trigger' a reaction in the Facebook algorithm. Facebook doesn't actually admit to using trigger words, most likely because they don't want marketers to go crazy using them, however if you've used Facebook for a while you've probably noticed that when you are typing a post on your business page you might get a ‘suggestion' to create an ad while you are typing this is most likely because you've used one of those ‘unofficial' trigger words.

Some trigger words work in your favor – words like ‘anniversary,' ‘congratulations,' and ‘birthday' tend to get shared in feeds more widely by Facebook. However, others don't.


facebook's trigger words facebook business pages engagement
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That doesn't mean, however, that you can't still get good organic reach without paying, it's just a bit trickier.

At a minimum, you should follow the 80/20 rule – 80 percent social fun posts and only 20 percent promotional posts.

Now, from my own observation and experience as a Facebook user – a very large portion of direct sellers on Facebook use their Facebook page as one giant advertisement. It kind of feels like their page feed is one long digital infomercial (let's face it no one wants to interact with a never-ending commercial). It's one promotional post after another for a product or ‘join my team', or ‘on sale now' – this is bad for a number of reasons, but I'll stick to  how it affects your post reach for the sake of this article.

The Nitty Gritty

The ruling factor on Facebook is its famous algorithm (the many thousands of factors that determine whether Facebook decides to show a post to your fans or not).  One of the filters that are part of this algorithm is called the “overly promotional” filter.

This was introduced back in 2014 after Facebook surveyed hundreds of thousands of users about how they feel about certain types of content in their feeds.  The key thing you must always remember is that people are on Facebook to be entertained they aren't there to be sold to, and what Facebook found (see original source here) is that “a lot of the content people see as too promotional” came from posts on pages they liked rather than actual ads.

That makes sense since Facebook has controls and criteria for actual ads on their platform which dictate the quality and also the number of ads you see on your news feed.  The same thing wasn't happening on actual promotional posts being made by pages.

As a result, they created the “overly promotional” filter. You might have seen this filter in action when you've written a post and Facebook has given you “suggestion” to boost your post because it contained a certain keyword like “offer” or “limited time.”

Facebook has never outwardly said that they limit the reach on promotional posts but it there is no shortage of anecdotal evidence from business page users who say these types of posts have the poorest reach.

facebook's trigger words facebook business pages engagement
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But What Does it All Mean?

If you've been paying attention at all to Facebook in 2017/2018 you know that they have had their share of issues and have taken a very proactive stance in making Facebook a platform that is about community.

In late 2017 Facebook made the public announcement about the algorithm change that would target ‘engagement bait' – basically posts that asked for ‘likes' or ‘shares' would be suppressed.

“We will demote posts that go against one of our key News Feed values — authenticity. Similar to our other recent efforts to demote clickbait headlines and links to low-quality web page experiences, we want to reduce the spread of content that is spammy, sensational, or misleading in order to promote more meaningful and authentic conversations on Facebook.”

This announcement was the first time that Facebook basically came out and said they were outright targeting certain types of post and ‘words' and demoting them in the newsfeed.

Try to Avoid

As a direct seller or business operator, it's incredibly common to use Facebook's trigger words in your posts.

Facebook is putting at it's core the concept of building community and relationships.  Your posts should be about connecting people with you and your business. That said you still want to promote you products and services. Try to avoid these types of words that Facebook can see as promotional and could be killing your reach onto your fans news feeds.

As mentioned above some of Facebook's trigger words actually increase your reach. These words, however, appear to be ones that can hamper your reach, examples are assumed to be words such as:

  • App
  • Buy
  • Comment
  • Coupon
  • Deal
  • Discount
  • Download
  • Follow
  • Free
  • Freebie
  • Giveaway
  • Install
  • Offer
  • Percent
  • Percentage
  • Promo
  • Promotion
  • Sale
  • Sample
  • Save
  • Share
  • Shop
  • Sweepstake(s)
  • Win

Typical examples are words like “Free”, “Like”, “Share”, “Buy”, “Sale” are proving to be some of the biggest and most obvious reach killers. Facebook dislikes brands trying to force reach (“Like” and “Share” being obvious examples). Promotional words like “Buy” and “Sale” are obvious choices as well.

So What's the Solution?

Well, there is no fool-proof solution (and even if there was one Facebook would probably change things anyway!).  There are however things you can try to work around Facebook's trigger words and algorithm and hopefully get better reach with your promotional posts.

Use graphics – people love pictures on social media, use a great original graphic and mention your offer in a text overlay.   Instead of putting the information about your offer in the main post use a graphic and then put the details of your offer in the first comment.  This also sneakily helps with engagement because if they are interested they are going to click-through to see the comments and that ups your engagement straight away.Click on the link to check out this awesome post from Social Media Examiner to see some great graphics examples.

Use Video – people and Facebook love video – so use it – do live streams announcing your specials, share your news and new products by engaging with your community through video content.  These posts will get you more traction than any wordy post you come up with, every day of the week.

Keep promotional posts to a minimum – focus on creating posts that people want to see – in the Facebook realm that's things that make them laugh, make them think – showcase your personality so that your fans connect with you and invite them to engage in a setting like your VIP group – this is where you'll get more mileage out of relevant promotional posts.

Pay to Play – If you really do want to get a promotional message out there then pay for an ad (make sure it's allowed in your P & P if you are in direct sales), but be informed and do it right so you get the most bang for your buck!  Facebook advertising doesn't have to be expensive and if you get your audience targeting right it can be a great boost to your business.

Want more tips on how to grow your business through social marketing? Come and join the Socialite Suite and learn how to grow your business through building relationships and community.

Tammy Rose-Townsend
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Author: Tammy Rose-Townsend

Tammy is a mom to 5 kids ranging in age from 20 to 3 - they all have Pyrrole disorder and MTHFR gene modification and she is passionate about sharing tips on what works for her family in managing symptoms naturally and on a budget. When she's not taking care of the gang she is blogging and sharing tips on how to make money from home through blogging, social media and direct sales. She also runs the online direct sales site the leading online direct sales consultant directory and blogging platform.

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I Would Love to Hear Your Thoughts

21 thoughts on “Are Facebook’s Trigger Words Killing Your Reach?

  1. excellent article! would love to see it updated if needed for 2020. Thank you!
    Posted on October 14, 2020 at 6:42 pm
  2. Thank you!
    Posted on July 19, 2020 at 3:51 am
  3. Hi Tammy! I have been trying to find facebook's actual page about trigger words so I can use it to benefit my social media marketing. Could you send me the link where you got all those trigger words? That would be wonderful! Thank you so much!
    Posted on May 18, 2018 at 7:08 am
    1. Hi Michaela - Facebook has no official documentation on this - the words list is one I compiled with a group of fellow marketers and have gleaned from Facebooks statements on click-bait.
      Posted on May 25, 2018 at 12:04 pm
  4. great tips have shared with my team :)
    Posted on June 4, 2016 at 7:51 am
    1. Thank you Sharyn!
      Posted on June 4, 2016 at 10:35 am
  5. This is very helpful. I've almost given up on FB because I never know what is going to be worth the effort. And that 20% text rule is sooooo annoying if you are trying to do paid promos. These are some helpful ideas.
    Posted on June 3, 2016 at 2:56 pm
  6. "Facebook to be entertained they aren’t there to be sold to." Words to live by! I'm sharing this for sure. Thanks.
    Posted on June 3, 2016 at 1:04 am
    1. Thanks Theresa! I know I personally don't like a long progression of 'ads' in my FB feed!
      Posted on June 3, 2016 at 8:32 am
  7. Great post. Will use this as a guide from now on.
    Posted on June 3, 2016 at 12:17 am
  8. Thanks for the great info. I had read a bit on this in the past, and only to scratch the surface. Doing some social media work for a business, and this is super helpful!
    Posted on June 2, 2016 at 11:57 pm
    1. Great Patricia hope it helps - Facebook doesn't like to make it easy for business!
      Posted on June 3, 2016 at 12:02 am
  9. interesting, I don't actually sell anything but still want to use facebook to reach my blog audience. It's frustrating that despite people liking the page they will rarely see it in their newsfeed. What advice would you give for non paying blogs?
    Posted on June 2, 2016 at 11:47 pm
    1. Hey Amanda - business pages are downright frustrating my best advice is to try and build relationships with those who follow your page and keep a good mix of posts that 1) Show your personality - things from your daily life, pictures or quotes that reflect your personality 2) Add value to the type of follower you have so for example you have a parenting blog then share items that you find that relate to parenting and then 3) Your promotional things - so sharing your blog posts, freebies etc that relate directly to your blog. Hope that helps!
      Posted on June 2, 2016 at 11:59 pm
  10. Tammy, I enjoyed this post. It is very informative, and I did not know this information. Thank you for posting it.
    Posted on June 2, 2016 at 11:45 pm
    1. Thanks Roy I'm so glad you found it helpful!
      Posted on June 2, 2016 at 11:59 pm
  11. Thanks very much , this is really helpful and I will take care in my next posts on facebook !
    Posted on June 2, 2016 at 11:37 pm
  12. Thank you. I am fairly new to Facebook and have noticed hardly any engagement on my posts. I do the 80/20 rule but 80 of others, 20 of my own posts. I really appreciate the breakdown here and the explanation.
    Posted on May 29, 2016 at 11:11 pm
    1. Hi Jen, Facebook is a tricky platform these days for pages! We need to use all the tricks we can get but persevere - once you get some true fans who interact with your page it makes a huge difference!
      Posted on May 29, 2016 at 11:54 pm
  13. Tammy, you are the bomb!!!! Thanks for this.
    Posted on May 25, 2016 at 9:43 am
    1. Thanks Karen!
      Posted on May 25, 2016 at 10:26 am