The Fate of Like-Gating on Facebook and What to Do Now
In a recent platform policy change, Facebook has announced that they will soon be disabling the functionality that allowed businesses to engage in popular practice known as “like-gating”, where users are required to “Like” a page before they can enter a contest or have access to content, rewards or apps. As of November 5th, like-gating will no longer be allowed, and businesses are now being forced to utilize alternative strategies in order to encourage visitors to connect with their brands. This new policy, which was announced by way of Facebook’s Developer Blog, is aimed at improving the quality of the user experience; in Facebook’s own words, they want people to like pages because of a genuine desire “to connect and hear from the business, not because of artificial incentives.”
Like-gating has been an immensely popular practice for several years, as it’s a quick and relatively simple way for brands to generate new Facebook fans using incentivized content. In recent months, however, brands have shifted their focus from attempting to garner new fans to engaging deeper with their current fan base. One of the contributing factors to this shift is the recent decline in the effectiveness of organic reach where Page posts are concerned; recent studies have revealed that dozens of major brands have suffered a 49 percent drop in organic reach for published content since October 2013. The shuttering of like-gating along with the diminishing impact of organic reach has prompted many businesses to ponder whether they should continue using Facebook at all.
All is not lost, however; businesses can still leverage the popularity of Facebook’s platform to attract fans and foster genuine engagement with their Page visitors. Below are a few simple strategies you can put into practice to keep your Facebook presence strong and effective.
1. Utilize Form-Gating
One of the most effective techniques for building your Facebook fan base is a simple process known as “form-gating”. The basic premise of form-gating is that you will offer your visitors some type of free item such as an ebook, white paper, product discount, contest entry, etc., in exchange for filling out a quick form that captures their name and email address. Let’s face it–while it may be thrilling to see your “Like” count continue to rise, it doesn’t give you any real indication of who your users are. It is much better to be able to engage them in a manner that encourages them to provide a small bit of information about themselves, so that you can establish a more long-term line of communication with them. This incentive-for-information exchange carries a far greater value for your business over the long haul than simply having them click the “Like” button. The great thing about form-gating is that you will find your “Like” count increasing organically anyway due to the value you are providing your fans by way of the free incentives you offer.
2. Publish Valuable, Relevant Content
By focusing on sharing valuable, relevant content with your fans, you will automatically generate more likes, comments and shares to your page. This has been a long-standing mantra among social media marketing professionals, and for good reason: People don’t mind sharing valuable content that addresses their needs, wants and interests. Attracting and engaging people with high-quality content never goes out of style, and will go further towards building authentic relationships than utilizing gimmicky tactics with little to no long-term value.
3. Use Facebook Ads
While small businesses may feel a little uneasy about conducting a Facebook Ads campaign due to the cost, there are quite a few things you can do to ensure that your advertising dollars are being used in the most efficient manner possible. One of the most important tools that Facebook Ads offers is the ability to use targeting options that narrow down your audience to those people who have shown an interest in products or services that are similar to what your business offers. You can also utilize the “Insights” feature, which provides analytical data to help you gauge how each individual post is performing. Focusing your advertising dollars on the posts that have already produced likes, shares and comments will help you get the most bang for your buck.
While Facebook’s dominance of the social landscape doesn’t look to be changing any time soon, it is important to remember that there is a world outside of Facebook as well. You may also want to consider increasing your usage of other popular social platforms such as Instagram, Tumblr or Pinterest, so that you can establish a presence that fits those particular audiences as well. This recent ban on like-gating has been seen by some as a disingenuous move on Facebook’s part to force businesses to advertise, but by using the simple strategies outlined above, you can minimize your reliance upon paid advertising and still grow your business with a balanced mix of social media marketing techniques.