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Just when you think you have Facebook figured out, things change. One of those recent changes involves the death of the like gate. If you’ve never heard of it, you’re not going to miss it but if you’re like so many digital marketers who use it to make their business page look more impressive, this is sad news.
What is a Like Gate?
If you’ve ever come across a Facebook page that threw up a giant screen that said, “Ike our page” before you got to the content, you understand the like gate. In the old days of Facebook, the like gate could keep you from seeing anything on the page. Under more recent rules, that’s no longer the case but marketers could still use the like gate to try and get your like before taking you to the page.
But now it’s going away altogether
What Does Facebook Say?
Here’s what Facebook said in an August 7 post on their developer’s blog:
“You must not incentivize people to use social plugins or to like a Page. This includes offering rewards, or gating apps or app content based on whether or not a person has liked a Page.”
If you or somebody you know plays games on Facebook, you probably know that a common practice is to offer rewards within the game for certain actions—such as liking the company page. Other companies will offer a coupon, a free ebook, or some other incentive.
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Like gating doesn’t look the same across all online properties but the basic premise is common. Go to a company website and it’s likely to ask you to sign up for an e-mail list in exchange for a free gift.
The same thing happens in the offline world. A storeowner might ask you to complete a card with your contact information in order to put you on a mailing list—either “snail mail” or an online list.
Why is Facebook Doing This?
Here’s the official response found in the same paragraph of Facebook’s blog post:
“To ensure quality connections and help businesses reach the people who matter to them, we want people to like Pages because they want to connect and hear from the business, not because of artificial incentives. We believe this update will benefit people and advertisers alike.”
Facebook appears to be doing something that should make every marketer happy—making sure every connection we make is real and relevant. If you like a page, Facebook wants it to be because you had a real interest in learning more. Liking something to receive a free gift is a pretty low quality fan—marketers everywhere know that already. Why spend the money to market to somebody who will never engage with your brand?
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If you’re not already paying for Facebook advertising, it’s likely that sometime in the future you will. Facebook appears to be working to make sure that the people that see your paid ad have a reasonable chance of being interested. By taking away the like gate, that ups the quality of the like. It gives Facebook more accurate information about its users. When you pay to reach people on your page, you can feel better about knowing that the people are interested. As the price of Facebook advertising rises, the quality of the fan will become a much bigger deal.
What do I do now?
If you’ve used like gates to drive traffic to your page, you have until November 5 to make other plans to gather fans.
First, if you’re still operating under the idea that page fans are essential for a successful Facebook page, it’s time to alter that thinking. By now, you’ve heard that you only reach a small percentage of the fans on your page anyway so the value of a fan is lower than what it was in the glory days of free Facebook.
Marketers now use Facebook advertising to reach a tightly targeted group of people regardless of if they like their page or not.
That doesn’t mean that the page like isn’t important. A larger fan base still increases your chances of reaching more people organically (free) but gone are the days where quantity was a measure of quality.
If you use a like gate, you’re probably annoyed--understandably so but as a marketer, be happy that Facebook is putting more rules in place that will increase the accuracy of the data it has on each fan. It will make your marketing dollars go further.
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