Thursday, October 9, 2014

Like or like-like? Facebook bans like-gating.

“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, checkin at a place or enter a promotion on your app’s Page.”  

This new addition to Facebook's Platform Policy's was not a front-and-center announcement. Rather, it was left up to a number of blogs and publications to pick it up and report that Facebook will no longer allow "like-gating" on brand pages. 

What is like-gating? If you've ever interacted with a brand page on Facebook before, you have most likely encountered it: 

In the golden age of two months ago, it was a way to incentivize likes on brand pages. The page would run a contest or some promotion through a third party app (like Wildfire or WooBox) and people who wanted to enter the contest in order to win whatever "awesome" prize was being offered would first have to like the page. It was a nice little tool to get customer data and to give a boost to your page growth. And now, on November 5th, the like-gate will pass on. 

However, is the disappearance of this feature is a bad thing? 

On one hand it is slightly annoying because Facebook has very selfish reasons for doing this: they want you to use their ad platform to reach new users. Facebook's biggest moves lately (e.g. changing their algorithm to decrease the average post's reach) have been built around driving dollars to its ad platform. It's Facebook's world and we're just living in it. 

On the other hand, however, the disappearance of like-gating isn't the worst thing that could happen. Generally, the people who like your page because of the incentive are, well, liking the page because of the incentive. Meaning, they like it, they don't win and they never interact with the page again. You're boosting your followers but decreasing your engagement which is actually harmful when trying to push your posts into people's news feeds. 

So while like-gating was a useful feature in some instances, especially when you're first launching a page, it's banishment won't have any long term negative effects. In fact, they might be positive as brands must now refocus their social efforts on strong and appealing content that is deserving of our attention, rather than buying likes with the prospects of a prize.