There's pandemonium on Facebook!
Social media marketers are up in arms because Facebook has banned the Like-gate.
Here's the recent announcement:
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. It remains acceptable to incentivize people to login to your app, check-in at a place or enter a promotion on your app's Page.
In other words, you can't use a third-party app to hide content then force people to Like your page to see it or enter your contest.
App developers have pushed this strategy for years -- especially those who deal with Facebook contests. You used to be able to require someone to Like your page before they could enter your contest or download your e-book.
The tactic worked great & became commonplace on many Facebook pages. But Facebook said this about the recent ban:
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.
Instead of forcing someone to Like your page, you're better off with a strategy that gets Likes from people who are actually interested in your content. Still, banning the Like-gate angered many:
17 Facebook Experts Explain How the Like-Gate Ban Affects YOU
The ban has bloggers, app developers & marketers scrambling to figure out how to respond to the change.
Many app providers depended on the Like-gate as a major feature of their product. Banning Like-gates could directly impact their livelihoods.
Don't believe me? Check out what Heyo CEO Nathan Latka said about the ban:
Will Facebook continue making it harder for small businesses to have success on the platform?
I will watch Facebook very carefully over the coming quarters to see if they further restrict fan pages' ability to have organic success in an effort to boost advertising revenues.
Facebook beat Wall Street estimates in their recent earnings call so I don’t see this squeeze coming in the next 3-5 months.
How does the small business survive? The one that creates amazing organic content, can't afford ads, and is seeing reach go into the toilet?
However, not everyone is against the ban. It's a mixed bag.
Here's what some other high-profile social media marketers said about the change:
ShortStack CEO Jim Belosic
THIS IS GREAT!
We've been moving away from Like-gating for months now, for two reasons:
1. The value of a Like is trivial compared to other data that a business should be trying to collect (emails, feedback, opinions, other data). I think that a lot of business owners have been too focused on getting a lot of likes, at the expense of encouraging actions with higher ROI.
2. Like-gating on mobile is terrible and basically broken. Mobile consumption is through the roof, yet when you send a mobile user to a Like-gated app on Facebook, the UX is atrocious. Many times the user would be asked to login to Facebook again, or the redirect back to the app would never happen and the user would be stuck on a blank page.
This policy change is a sign that even Facebook knows that a Like isn't worth as much as Page admins think it is.
Most savvy marketers have shifted away from Like-gating already, but this change will force the rest to update their methods and see better results from their efforts.
Antavo co-founder Zsuzsa Kecsmar
“Why do they mess with our customers again? Will this hurt our business?” – these were my first thoughts when hearing the news. Now I think it doesn’t matter a lot.
Clearly, cutting the Facebook Like-gate is not great news for smaller businesses that do social media without advertising, and hope their posts reach 2-3% of their fans. Here is what we predict:
- Better quality of social media posts. Social media managers need to craft engaging posts to seduce people to “Like” their Page.
- Advertising. It seems that it’s the best way to reach your fans, and your audience who is no follower yet. Facebook allows conversion pixels in ads, so you can set new fans to be the target. There are ads appearing in the news feed if you deliberately want to encourage people to “Like” your Page.
- Change in mindset. Are Facebook likes that important? You can reach the fraction of your fans anyway, and you need to run ads in order to reach them. Now it hasn’t changed much.
Antavo, the company I am co-founder of, helps marketers to run sweepstakes and contests on Facebook, mobile and web. I still can’t say that we are happy for the changes, as the Like-gate is an important element of our low-end pricing.
But I understand that these changes started a lot earlier, and we are prepared to react in time. We are slightly moving away from Facebook, and this is what we recommend for our customers too.
Don’t build your house on a rented land.
As they say.
TabSite CEO Mike Gingerich
It's not a high-value marketing method at all but so many are not yet convinced of this.
A name and email address is so much more valuable. Hopefully this forces the shift that needs to take place to better marketing methods.
We just added a "Form Gate" for the simple reason that it is more valuable to get a name and email address than to simply get a fan.
This update from FB makes that even more valid.
AgoraPulse co-founder Emeric Ernoult
Like gating has been one of the biggest motivations for page owners to install tabs on their Facebook pages for the last four years. There is no doubt about this. Like gating was simply the way to require participants into any type of contest or promotion run via an application to become a fan of the page before they could enter.
It could definitely be argued that users who like the page simply because they want to (and not because they “have” to) will definitely be more likely to later engage with the page. That argument makes sense.
Forcing people to do something because you want them to do it and not because they want to do it has never been the best way to get the most out of any action, whether it is becoming a fan, a follower, an email subscriber or anything else related.
In a way, one could argue that this is good news because this will increase the quality of your fans.
I know for a fact that a significant number of pages have been using Facebook contests and giveaways to “fan-gate” them and grow their fan base.
At least 80% of pages launching contests and promotions on their page using AgoraPulse were doing so using our “fan-gate” option, whether or not this was good practice to ensure the quality of their fan base.
Does that mean that removing that option will make them abandon their Facebook contest efforts altogether? It’s hard to say at this point. Most probably won’t, but some will.
Will this change impact app vendors? It probably will, but it’s hard to predict the magnitude of that impact.
This certainly means that being exclusively a “Facebook apps” vendor will soon be a thing of the past. Many vendors already anticipated that, long before Facebook made this announcement.
Numerous vendors have re-positioned themselves as “campaign builders for Social Media, the Web and Mobile”, and have made Facebook just one of the possible channels.
Others, like us, have decided to go “cross channel” and add more social networks, and therefore more engagement features that are not contest- or promotion-related.
A big shift is going on; it will be interesting to see what directions the ecosystem of app vendors will take over the next few months. One thing is for sure, they will all take (or continue to take) directions that take them away from dependency on “Facebook only”.
Contest Domination CEO Travis Ketchum
Apps won't have to "be in compliance" by November 5th because FB is killing the feature all together.
Any and all like gates that unlock content will stop working. Facebook is going to make the response to apps (which is how they tell if someone has liked something or not) to respond with "liked".
This means, even if you have a like gate for your content or page, it will automatically show because there will no longer be a specific indication for those who haven't actually liked the page or content you've asked them to.
That being said... I can see why Facebook would want to kill this. Creates a big group of lukewarm prospects at best (instead of really interested fans). As a brand, you shouldn't be too sad to see this go because like gates have increased your cost per lead.
You can still suggest that people like you on Facebook, and a lot will organically like you if you've provided them with actual value.
Aside from vanity metrics (ie social proof) your total like count shouldn't be your measuring stick anyway since the organic reach of posts has completely fallen off a cliff in the past few months.
Social Boom CEO Kim Garst
I think that Facebook is really trying to force us to do it right. Facebook is trying to build a better content delivery system and put content in front of fans that truly want it versus being enticed to connect with a fan page/community based on an incentive.
They want true organic relationships OR they want you to pay to put your content in front of people that are more likely to be interested in your content.
Make no mistake, they are wanting to build their ads platform but they are also, in my opinion, trying to streamline all the content that is being posted to Facebook each and every day.
Jon Loomer Digital owner Jon Loomer
The motivation here is preserving the value of the like, which ultimately significantly impacts the quality of content in your news feed. Incentivizing likes devalues that action -- you only did it to get something.
As a result, you are now being shown more content in your news feed, and more content that you may not care about.
Of course, this isn't much different than marketing lead magnets -- offering something of value in exchange for email addresses.
But understand that who likes what has a huge impact on Facebook's graph. The value of advertising and the value of content shown is dependent on it being tied closely to what people actually care about.
I appreciate the move, and it may actually help the user experience. If a user rarely interacts with a brand, they won’t see that brand’s content anyway. But I doubt it will do much of anything for advertisers.
This isn’t the end of the world. Embrace that your fans will be those who care most about your brand. But also accept that it will now be harder to increase those numbers, particularly if you previously thrived with contests and other like-gating.
Polygraph CEO Chris Treadway
Like gating causes inaccuracy.
This is about keeping the data accurate. Your feed is going to naturally degrade a little as you go from 100% friend content to say 50/50 friends/ads.
But if the underlying data is accurate, the ads will be relevant to you.
1) the user doesn't care about organic or inorganic content. the user cares about relevancy.
2) organic content has been smashed for 8 months, but people who do it very well have still fared reasonably well. But for the people who aren't doing a good job, it's pay to play now. no more freebies -- this has been coming for several years. SMBs can choose to play or not.
SocialMouths owner Francisco Rosales
“Like-Gating” is very similar to email opt-ins, they don’t work when a marketing plan focuses only on “top of the funnel” strategies, usually building a massive fanbase or email list, constantly running promos or giving away iPads.
Then I agree completely with Facebook’s statement: “we want people to like Pages because they want to connect and hear from the business, not because of artificial incentives."
Unfortunately, for the smart businesses that do this right, implementing a full marketing funnel approach that provides tons of value for prospects at all stages, that starts with a simple Like but ends with great customer relationships and actual sales, they have to reconsider their honest and successful strategy too.
CommsAxis co-founder Lilach Bullock
Whilst initially I was surprised Facebook is doing this, it should be welcomed by businesses.
It’s a great way to filter out the crap – Facebook Pages will be more targeted than ever with genuine people who care and like their brand.
We will start to see less of a numbers game and brands will now have to be much more creative and engaging to get likes and, more importantly, shares – which is not a bad thing in my book!
RazorSocial CEO Ian Cleary
It makes sense that Facebook doesn't want people forced to become a fan just to win a prize in a competition.
For competition vendors this is a blow to them because so many businesses only look at their fan count and its growth and that's why they like fan-gated competitions.
What will happen going forward is the bribe to become a Facebook fan will be replaced with a bribe to become an email subscriber!
RaviShukle.com owner Ravi Shukle
In my opinion, Facebook killing the “like gate” feature on apps is a good thing.
Having the “like gate” in place meant businesses were unable to distinguish whether a fan wanted to connect with their business or just for the incentive behind the “like gate”.
This update will now allow businesses to concentrate on building a deeper connection with their fans through email or comments whilst also improving the quality of their fans.
Social Identities owner Hugh Briss
Yeah, I think the forced like to get something ran its course a while ago but I will miss the ability to add a reveal page that loads after someone likes the page, because it was a great way to provide links to other social pages and include email capture forms without sidetracking people on the main page before they liked the page.
I think TabSite's new Form Gate is a great alternative. Instead of requiring someone to like the page they have to provide an email address to get the content.
No different than what everyone does on their blogs and websites when they offer a free newsletter or webinar or e-book in exchange for an email address.
Ignite Social Media Senior Community Manager John Patterson
Facebook has added a ban on incentivizing likes to its continued war on marketers. Add this to spiraling reach and an algorithm that at this point requires witchcraft (or a massive ad spend) to deliver content effectively for brands and you've got an ad supported network that hates advertisers.
Sound like a strategic mistake? That’s because it is.
I am not giving carte blanche to marketers to fill our news feeds with banner ads or garbage content, but quality content from brands should be served to users in a natural and organic way. If you like a page you should see content from that page.
This represents a fundamental shift in strategy for Facebook. Removing the ability to organically grow your audience by creating a natural incentive to engage with your brand removes a fundamental marketing tool that has been used by brands for 100 years.
What’s next? A ban on asking fans to like your page within content? A ban on page-like calls-to-action within email communications and on websites? Those may seem ridiculous, but two years ago this ban would have seemed equally ludicrous.
By not allowing marketers to work on the principle of social exchange for access to exclusive Facebook content has removed one of the most powerful and versatile tools in the marketing toolbox.
Kovar Systems Web Marketing Manager Dani Loebs
I think this is good. Like-Gating was a gimmicky strategy that promoted shallow fan behavior.
I usually argued against it in content strategy planning.
Social media coach Andrea Vahl
I think the biggest problem with this is running contests that required users to Like your Page.
While that was never perfect anyway, it still made it easier to get more Likes.
Forcing people to Like your business page to get some content or open the entry form to a contest was not helping your company. In fact, it was likely hurting it.
You're basically ending up with people Liking your page who couldn't care less about your company, which means they probably weren't engaging with your posts & that hurts your ranking in the news feed algorithm. I wouldn't worry much about this feature being gone because it's a tactic that lost its usefulness long ago.
Which of these experts gets it right? Did Facebook screw up when it banned Like-gates OR is it one of the best moves the social media website has ever made?