The practice of ‘like-gating’ on Facebook has been taken up with relish by advertisers and for many it has offered a legitimate way of increasing the number of users who see their brand and for creating target marketing lists. It has also been over and mis-used as well however and a result of this Facebook have decided to ban the practice altogether.
The social media powerhouse recently released an update to their terms for advertisers and at the bottom the following was included:
“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.”
This meant that for anyone using apps such as Heyo, TabSite, Shortstack etc which incorporated the like-gating feature, this feature would no longer exist. Like-gating refers to when a user has to like something in exchange for something else. This might be a competition or to receive a related product or service for free; all of which is given or in with a chance of winning in return for a like.
For instance a business page may post a competition, for those who are already fans they will need to click enter to apply and any non-fans will need to hit the ‘like’ button for their page to be entered.
This is not inherently bad practice. Some companies genuinely provided users with content they want to see and ask for likes from those who may be interested in seeing the content from their page on an ongoing basis. The problem really was over-incentivising, often with prizes not really related to the brand themselves. The result of which is lots of irrelevant likes and therefore newsfeeds clogged with irrelevant content from business pages not necessarily of interest.
The reach of this and what it means for Facebook
Because of the way in which Facebook works, with shared activity throughout friend networks, these business pages would also be shown to users connected with those who have hit like. They estimate in fact that should their algorithms allow all related likes of business pages to show up, each user would be inundated with around 1500 stories every day. Instead this is reduced to around 300 that may be seen by users each day – it is still hard to know though which content and business pages have made their way to a newsfeed for good reason or because of masses of irrelevant likes bought with bribery.
If you have used this as a marketing strategy in the past, don’t worry too much going forward. You will still keep any likes you have accrued up to this point, including from utilising such strategies. Instead focus on increasing the number of likes through other ways. You can also still build up marketing lists, either through requesting email addresses in exchange for relevant content that you may have for instance.
Facebook are unable to retrospectively take away likes, so the impact of this move may be minimal anyway. They are putting it down to user experience and believe it will impact both user and advertiser alike. Likes are important but it will mean new ways of trying to get them, while reducing spammy or irrelevant content for users.
Facebook will put the needs of their advertisers first which means people staying on the site for longer, hence wanting to remove content that may not be relevant to them.