Why the Like-Gate Ban from Facebook is a Good Thing
It's happened. You knew it was coming. The Like-Gate Ban. As of November 5, 2014, the policy is now in effect. No longer can you require a user to Like your page to gain access to contests, content, apps or anything else.
And you know what?
I'm a big fan of this change. At Marketing Ninjas we've always said that the quality of your fans is much more important the quantity of your fans.
Here's the thing: Facebook did this because they want people (A.K.A. your fans) to like your page because, well, they like you (and your company and your brand). Not because they like the contest you happen to be running.
If you have 5,000 fans, but only 5% of them are actually engaging with your posts (250 people), not so good. And if you have people who are choosing the "hide from news feed" option, that's even worse. Facebook considers this negative feedback, and that decreases the already-dwindling amount of organic reach a post gets. However, if you have 2000 fans, but a 15% engagement rate (300 people), you're ahead of the game. Fans who actually like your brand and engage are worth way more than the number of fans a page has.
So what do you do now? So glad you asked.
If you were prepared, you already starting planning for this back in August when it was first announced and put into play. You've shifted your focus to action-gating, updated any current gates you do have, and removed the like-gating campaigns you were running. If not, you should go do that. Go ahead, I'll wait here until you're ready...
I mentioned action-gating earlier. If you don't know, this is where you ask users for information, i.e.: an email address, and in return you'll grant them access to your content, contest, what-have-you. There are tons of apps out there that can help you create a custom form for your Facebook page - I'm a big fan of ShortStack.
Here's something else - just because like-gating is no longer allowed doesn't mean you can't ask for a like. Go ahead and encourage visitors to like your Facebook page! Try adding a "like our page" link at the bottom of online forms so when the visitor is done filling out your action-gate form they are redirected back to your Facebook page.
Now, of course you can still offer amazing deals on your products, or the download of your brand-new ebook. But now, the people who actually want your information can get it without having to like your page. Offer people something of value, and they will come, and engage. And that's what we all want!
Oh! A couple things to keep in mind about Timeline promotions:
- you can still require users to Like your status update to be entered
- you can still require users to Like a photo or comment in order to enter a promotion
Moving forward, you can start collecting other information from your users (with the action-gating I was talking about) and most of the time that kind of information is more useful than a "like". Now you have something more personal, and another way to contact your users, which allows you to establish a better connection for long-term communication.
More and more we come back to the social part of social media. So get out there and engage with the people who are genuinely interested in you and the awesome content you're posting. The ones who were just there for the free iPad aren't your fans, they're Apple fans.
Don't get me wrong, likes still matter. And while organic reach may be down, if you're offering quality incentives for people and they are liking your page because they want to, you will still reach a lot of people without having to do Facebook Ads if you don't want to (although there's some pretty awesome stuff you can do but that's another blog post altogether). That definitely counts for something, especially in Facebook's algorithm.
It's time to get creative with how you grow your page fan base. Compelling value, third party apps, Facebook ads - whatever it takes. But do it right.