One of the big stories in social media this week was Facebook’s announcement that it is going to ban the ‘Like Gate’ from November 5th 2014.
A valid first question to ask, however, is what on earth is the Facebook Like Gate?! When a Facebook page holds a contest, promotion or has an app which is only open to people who like their page, they are, in Facebook’s eyes, forcing people through the ‘Like Gate’. From 5th November, Facebook will not let you do this on your page. To quote Facebook:
“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. 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.”
Is this an example of Facebook flexing its muscles (some would say again), or is this a reasonable move by the world’s largest social network? I think that this is a reasonable move by Facebook. I don’t think that there are millions of Facebook pages which do this and most marketers would like to see as many people enter their competitions as possible, and forcing a ‘like’ a barrier to entry. But there are more reasons why I think the way I do.
You need to be smarter to attract ‘likes’: We all know that social media is incredibly popular across virtually all demographics. But this means that consumers are becoming more and more sophisticated. So, unless they really, really want to win the prize, forcing someone to like your page to enter a competition is a bit of a blunt weapon to attract likes.
Why attract likes anyway? Traditionally, Facebook page owners wanted likes because they drove the size of your audience. But it is no secret that Facebook organic reach, i.e. the number of people who like your page and see your posts, is in decline – Facebook would much rather you promote your message. So, smart marketers are asking themselves ‘what is the value of a Facebook like’?
Like, wait, unlike: Unless you can demonstrate in a very short space of time that it is worth the new follower’s time to keep following you, they may like your page, enter the competition and then unlike your page – a waste of time, right?
Likes are a means to an end: While many CEOs would disagree, likes are not the key measure in social media. It is all about engagement and communicating with your audience, not talking at them, talking to them. It’s easy to lose sight of this, but it is important.
What do you think about this change? Will you be forced to change the way that you market and communicate on Facebook?