Back in August, Facebook announced a bunch of updates, one of which was disabling the fan-gating feature. And on November 5th, those changes went into action. For brands and companies that used this feature to grow fans, it’s time to take a new approach.
For the uninitiated, “fan-gating” is when a brand requires consumers to like its page before they can view content or enter a sweepstakes. It was a way to incentivize people to become fans. However, when the relationship between brand and consumer is tenuous, those fans unfollow.
Mairead Ridge, senior manager of marketing at digital marketing agency Offerpop, says fan-gating was a smart feature in the beginning, but social media marketing is evolving.
“Marketers are getting more sophisticated about the way they think about the value of acquiring and engaging a Facebook audience,” she says.
Instead of focusing on a growing fan base or following, it’s more about growing an audience that will really engage with the content you create. Fan-gating really created faux engagement opportunities and valued a higher fan-count over other important business metrics.
For instance, Ridge says several Offerpop customers have used the fan-gate feature over the years. But when Offerpop looked at the data, non-gated campaigns captured 26 percent more email addresses than gated campaigns. Removing the fan-gating feature is actually good for businesses, according to Ridge, who says it enables brands to acquire email addresses and drive more valuable business metrics.
“[Email addresses] allow businesses to maintain a one-to-one relationship,” Ridge says. “It’s really about owning your audience, rather than renting it.”
Just to be clear, brands can still run campaigns that encourage users to like a page. However, the feature that enabled brands to force consumers to like a page for access to exclusive content is no longer available.
“There’s really nothing wrong with including a call to action with your content,” Ridge says, adding that with the decline in Facebook reach, it’s important for marketers to emphasize quality in their campaigns.
A lot of her clients ask about how to get engagement without fan-gating. Ridge suggests companies get experimental with types of content and figure out which days and times different types of content get the most traction. Ultimately, though, content is king.
“By producing engaging content [brands] are ultimately going to grow their fan-base.”
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