Facebook’s Like-Gate Ban Takes Effect Today. Here’s Why it’s a Good Thing

Posted by Jim Belosic on 05 Nov 2014 / 0 Comment

Facebook recently announced that it would no longer allow brands to “like-gate” apps or campaigns and today the policy takes effect.

The like-gate ban announcement freaked out a lot of people because the practice of rewarding someone with “fan only” content — especially entry forms to contests/sweepstakes –– in exchange for liking a page has been, for years, a popular way to increase the number of Likes a brand’s Facebook page has.

I’ve been recommending against like-gating for awhile now because it doesn’t tell you much about your customers or users. It doesn’t give you a way to reach them outside of Facebook. And there’s no way to tell if they’re liking your page because they actually want to see your posts or if they just want to enter to win the iPad you’re giving way.

The concept of action-gating — asking users to do something besides like the page (e.g., share a piece information about themselves) in order to get something from you (e.g., an extra entry into a contest or access to a promotion) turns out to be a way to get more useful data.

Here are three things you need to know about Facebook’s like-gate ban, and why you should action-gate instead.

Facebook wants your fans to like you – not just like your contest  

One of the top reasons that Facebook users say they like a brand’s page is to gain access to special content, including contests, coupons, discounts. But guess what happens once they’ve gained access to that content or once the contest is over? Yep, they unlike the page. Or worse, they might hide your posts from their feed. Facebook considers hiding a page as negative feedback and if you get too much of it, pretty soon no one will see your posts.

Facebook no longer supports brands forcing fans to like their page in return for a coupon, contest entry or free download because a good chunk of those likes probably don’t come from people who will interact with the brand on a consistent basis. Facebook says the ban will improve the experience for users and advertisers, ultimately making Facebook more valuable for everyone.

Action-gated campaigns give you data that’s more valuable than likes

When someone likes a page, they don’t necessarily want to see updates from that page in the newsfeed but the like doesn’t give you a way to stay in touch with them. What’s more valuable is information such as email addresses that you can use for future marketing,  location information — so you know where your customers are — user-generated content submissions, especially photos and videos, which you can use for social media marketing.

We recently published a new eBook that we didn’t like-gate (something we have done in the past). Instead, we asked people who wanted the book to give us their email address. In one month we collected 5000 email addresses which we gave us a way to follow up with people who downloaded the eBook. And we’ve since linked to more than $ 10,000 worth of revenue to the ebook. Our Facebook likes also went up slightly more than average, even though liking our page wasn’t a requirement to get the book. Bottom line: We’ve realized that when users don’t feel forced to like a Facebook page, they will do it anyway, as long as they are being provided with valuable content.

 The like-gating ban is better for your users

As I mentioned earlier, presumably one of the reasons Facebook is putting the kibosh on like-gating is that they want to improve the Facebook experience for both users and brands.  Just last week, on his #AskGaryVee Show, Gary Vaynerchuk addressed the issue in a way only he can:

“A lot of people who built their fan bases on Facebook in 2009-1010 by offering free ipads… [that] was insanity. Those were Apple fans, they weren’t fans of your … cereal. Facebook once again is making a  hard-core move that is actually helping the users and the businesses.”

I’ve often written about the fashion brand Kate Spade New York because they do so many things right on Facebook, including action-gating; as far as I know Kate Spade has never liked-gated.  But to gain access to Kate Spade’s popular 75 percent off surprise sales, and access to their other Facebook “exclusives,” users first have to provide an email address. Don’t you think the sales team at Kate Spade would much rather have the email addresses of their customers so they can market directly to them with future offers? A person who comes to your page but only leaves a like might as well be a ghost.

By the way, you don’t have to offer sweet deals on purses and wallets, or give deep discounts to your products or services in order to harness the power of Facebook. You just have to offer your fans something your fans find valuable, whether it’s a contest prize, an ebook, or a coupon.

Don’t forget that even after they’ve liked your Facebook page, only a tiny percentage of your fans will come back to your page “organically.” This means that when you have a campaign running on your page, you have to promote it. You want to make sure you’ve designed it so people can easily share, that you promote it on your website/blog, update all your social media platforms, do some email marketing and, ideally, spend some money on advertising.