“Like our page!” is a phrase you see a lot on Facebook.  But following a change to Facebook’s Platform Policy last week, you may not see it as much.  Great news for users, but maybe not-so-great news for those businesses relying on like-gates to gain traction on Facebook.  Here are 8 things that all businesses on Facebook will want to think about now that it has banned “like-gating”. 

What has Facebook done?

Buried at the end of a post on Facebook’s Developers blog on 7 August was the announcement that Facebook was updating their Platform Policy.  Specifically, they said:

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

So, clause 4(5) of their Platform Policy now reads:

Only incentivize a person to log into your app, like your app’s Page, enter a promotion on your app’s Page, or check-in at a place. Don’t incentivize other actions. Effective November 5th, 2014, you may no longer incentivize people to like your app’s Page.

What does this mean?

It means that Facebook has banned “like-gating”.

What is “like-gating”?

“Like-gating” or “fan-gating” is when a Facebook page requires a user to “like” the page in order to access certain content on the page, specifically an application or tab on their page.  The content could be an exclusive feature, a game, a competition or other promotional offer.  The point of the like-gate is, of course, to increase the number of likes a page gets. The more likes, the bigger the potential audience for all your future posts.

What’s wrong with like-gating?

Well, this is what Facebook says:

“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.”

In other words, they believe that people should like you for who you are, not for some instant reward that locks you into a long-term relationship. (Bridget Jones would be proud.)

Many people see like-gating as an effective way of getting a foot in the door with customers. Other people see like-gating as a lazy way of artificially inflating the number of likes a page has and clogging up people’s timelines.

Regardless of your view, Facebook has now decided to stop its use and as a result, businesses will now need to work harder to win likes.

What should you do now?

  1. Update your apps that currently use like-gates

If you already have a Facebook app that uses a like-gate, it will continue to work until November 5. After that, the like-gating functionality will stop working. So there’s no time “like” the present to start preparing for that day by updating your apps to remove that functionality and replace it with softer landing pages.

  1. Seriously, forget about like-gating altogether

We know a lot of marketers will be thinking, “Quick, lets run one more app” with a like-gate to pump up the likes before the 5 November cut-off date. Don’t bother. Like-gating functionality will not work for any new apps created going forward.

  1. Incentivize your apps

Facebook explicitly states that it “remains acceptable to incentivize people to login to your app, checkin at a place or enter a promotion on your app’s Page”. You just can’t provide an incentive for a like. Instead, focus on getting people into the app and use that as an opportunity to obtain likes through a softer-sell of the benefits of liking your Page (through an explanation or demonstration of value). Facebook provides the following image to provide some “guidance” in the Platform Policy as to what is acceptable and what is not in terms of incentives.

Clik here to view image.

Facebook’s dos & do-not-dos for incentivizing

Click here for a larger version.

Any other incentives would need to be considered very carefully on a case-by-case basis.

  1. Buy Facebook ads

If the aim is to get your content out to a lot more people, then the good ol’ advertising option still remains. Yes, it will cost you more but the demand for people’s attention on Facebook is greater, while the supply of eyes and time is finite. It only stands to reason that the price for that access is going to cost us more. And if you go down this path, keep in mind that you can add a like button to your Facebook ad.

  1. Add call-to-action buttons on your Facebook Ads and page posts

A little-used feature on Facebook is the “call-to-action” button. This feature, only available in the Power Editor, allows you to add buttons to Facebook Ads and posts that say “Shop Now”, “Learn More”, “Sign Up”, “Book Now” and “Download”. While this won’t help you raise likes it may help you drive revenue and other forms of engagement, which is the whole point of building likes in the first place. So if you haven’t tried it yet, now may be a good time.

  1. Focus on other non-like metrics

You can still ask for something from users in return for access to content. For instance, you can require a name and email address for access, ie “form-gating”. Just make sure you include all the relevant privacy disclosures required under Australian law. (We can help you with that too!)

  1. Create compelling content

And finally, go back to the basics. Ask yourself why do people like a Page? The answer: because they get something useful from it. It might be entertainment. It might be information. It might be the ability to communicate with a brand or its community. Whatever it is, at its heart it will be compelling and it’s this that the most successful businesses focus on. Content is now king on Facebook.

  1. Review all of Facebook’s policies now

Because Facebook’s policies change quite regularly and because it is critical that business comply with those policies (or risk being chucked off Facebook altogether), this would be a good time to remind yourself of the full Platform Policy again (or read it for the first time if you haven’t read it before). You might also want to remind yourself of their Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, Data Use Policy, Community Standards, Advertising Guidelines, Pages Terms including Promotions Guidelines, Developer Payment Terms, Community Payment Terms, their Cookies and Pixels Policy, and Branding Guidelines (phew!).