Just like Google has made it tougher for the search engine optimization (SEO) experts to optimize their websites for higher rankings in search queries via its algorithm updates, it seems the competition in the social media world is also becoming harsher with every passing day. Gone are the days when you can simply develop your presence on social media sites by adopting simple ways of social media marketing. With more and more businesses showing inclination towards social media platforms for promoting their brands, social sites like Facebook has hurdled their way by introducing astonishing changes. Recently, Facebook has banned its long time favorite feature, “Like Gating”, from 5th November 2014 onwards.
Now, the liberty of instructing people to like pages before unlocking content on their websites has been snatched away from the brands as Facebook has asked them to use more authenticated ways of engaging their target audience. This ban was followed subsequently after the announcement made by Facebook in early August 2014. According to the announcement details, Facebook has planned to remove the “Like Gating” for enhancing the user experience of Facebook users.
Like Gating was introduced to help the businesses in expansion of their brand’s identity by gathering likes for their Facebook pages, but majority of the businesses failed to implement this technique correctly for their brands. Hence, finally Facebook has banned the “Like gating” from November 5th 2014 onwards.
The declaration made by Facebook to ban “Like Gating” covers two main changes that were planned to implement while removing “Like Gating”.
These two changes were:
For implementing the policy change, the announcement covers, “You must not incentivize the people to use the social plugins or to like your page. This includes offering rewards, or gating apps or app based content on whether or not a person has liked a page. It remains acceptable to incentivize the people to login your app, checking at a place, or enter a promotion on your app’s page”.
This change was introduced by Facebook with a purpose of developing a long term and loyal relationships between the businesses and their target audience. According to Facebook, they do not want the people to like the business pages artificially but they want them to like the pages only if they like the brand or the content displayed on those pages.
According the API change, the third party applications are no longer capable of reading whether a Facebook user has liked the business pages or not because Facebook has removed the ability of third party apps for doing so.
The introduction of the API change along with the policy change clearly represents that these were launched for discouraging the businesses and brands from seeking the help of third party apps to know if the user has likes their pages or not. Moreover, it will also let them discover more authenticated ways of engaging their target audience.
Facebook wants that the users like brand pages only if they really “like” those pages and not because they are promised with some offers or freebies. Ultimately, the aim of Facebook is to enhance the experience for both the advertisers and the users.
It is not like businesses have used the “like gating” only for buying likes in exchange of offers and freebies, but most of the reputed brands have used this technique to offer relevant content to their clients in exchange of the likes. I have visualized many of the reputed brands offer eBook in exchange of like that contains information related to their services and products. Users too find these offers useful for them, but this is not always true for all cases. In case of majority, the businesses failed to use the like gating feature efficiently. Instead, they have been using this feature for running a contest and then they offered prizes that were not even relevant to their brands as well, which was really not good at all.
What’s the main problem existed with this type of like gating process? The main issue was that this is not done in exchange for relevant content, neither these businesses had any tendency for offering their brand’s content in their News Feed.
You can compare the like gating with the website lead magnets where the relevant piece of content is offered in lieu of an email address, but again the value of like gating was less than the website lead magnets since it was using incentive in exchange of likes, while lead magnet has employed a legitimate way of list building.
The negative impact of Like Gating was far more than your expectations and also beyond the number of likes you have received until this date. According to Facebook research study, an average user could view 1,500 stories in a day while the algorithms of Facebook have brought this number to a sensible digit of 300.
The high quality and relevant content must be surfaced at a desirable place for all Facebook users and Facebook use certain signals for determining the number of users seeing different posts. However, Like Gating has completely created lots of confusion in those signals, due to which Facebook was unable to know if a user is certainly interested in getting content from a particular brand or not.
Therefore, the banning on Like Gating is aimed to preserve the value of the “like”. If users like pages for incentives instead of getting high quality and relevant content, then it will harm the user experience, which clearly decreases the user engagement time span on Facebook. This will also impacts negatively to the advertisers because they require the users to be available over their Facebook page for a longer time to target them.
Moreover, the value of targeting the audiences needs to be preserved for the advertisers as well because if we target the audience of our competitors who have just liked their pages in return of some freebies or offers, then there is no value of targeting those audiences who have no interest in the brand’s services and products.
Ban on Like Gating is not the end of the world for the social media marketers. Being a social media professional, you must know that your fans will always be those who like your brand and care about your services and products. However, you must accept the truth that there will be complexity in increasing those number of loyal fans particularly if previously you have used like gating for gaining your fans’ likes.
No matter what measures you will take for improving your organic search strategy, but you first need to set up an effective and persuasive value proposition. The API changes introduced by Facebook will only impact the Like campaigns that are currently running hence, if you don’t have any active like gating campaigns, you don’t have to worry for the consequences.
The point that you have a Facebook page representing your brand’s identity is not exhibited by the number of likes that you have gained through like gating campaigns, but it’s time for you to write convincing and appealing content for your Facebook business page so that the audiences can get encouraged for liking your content and your page as well. It will help in increasing the number of loyal fans for your page, who will really like your brand and your services.
These new changes done by Facebook might not help in enhancing the number of likes on your page, but you can easily understand the importance of loyal fans, who actually like your page because of your brand and its services.