Facebook, like many other Internet-based operations, has a habit of constantly implementing changes to their platform. Back in August of this year, the company implemented a number of changes to their Graph algorithm, including the way businesses can use the Like feature. On November 5, 2014, these changes came into effect and you should be aware of the new rules regarding how Facebook Pages can leverage Likes. In short: forcing people to Like your Page to gain access to content - a practice called Like-gating - is no longer tolerated.
Like-gates to be left open
In the past, it was a fairly common trend for businesses with Facebook Pages to limit the access followers had to their Pages or other information and campaigns. One of the most popular examples of this is if having to Like a company to enter a contest with them.
Facebook considered this an unfair practice, largely because it essentially defeats the purpose of a Facebook Page - which is to provide all Facebook users with equal access to business information and content. So, in August of this year, they announced that Like-gating would no longer be allowed as of November 5, 2014. This is being enforced through Facebook's recent update to the Graph algorithm which ranks Facebook Pages and other content in search results.
Companies that have been using this method to limit access to content and campaigns on Facebook will now likely see a negative drop in overall Page ranking - where you show up in search results. If this applies to you and you want to avoid this there are three things you should do as soon as possible:
1. Remove all existing Like-gates
This is important, because all Like-gate related content or campaigns are now likely going to hurt your overall Page ranking. You should audit your company's Facebook Page and look for any content or tabs that you have set a Like-gate restriction on. This includes campaigns or tabs that you have enabled using third-party apps (i.e. apps not designed by Facebook).
Essentially, you want to ensure that all content on your Facebook Page, and all marketing campaigns that use Facebook, are open to all users, not just the ones who have clicked Like on your Page.
2. Change your access gates
What is interesting about this change is that Facebook has not outright eliminated the right to limit access to your campaigns. For now, they are just focusing on ensuring that you don't need to Like something to gain access to it.
The reason for this is largely because of the way many business use Facebook - to run campaigns that gather information while offering a benefit to followers. Think of contests that give something away. Before, some businesses required that users Liked the content in order to gain entry to the campaign. Now that this is not possible you could try implementing gates such as a form that needs to be filled out in order to enter.
This method, often referred to as action-gating (requiring someone to take an action before being allowed to access content) is still fine to use, largely because it doesn't force users into taking an action, it is up to them whether they want to say fill out a form to enter a contest or not. Beyond that, the idea of filling out a form to enter a contest to gain access to information has been a standard business practice since long before Facebook.
By action-gating some content and contests or promotions, you should also be able to limit spammers, and increase the overall quality of data you gather, and of your followers.
3. Ask for Likes
Facebook has been quite clear that the new Graph algorithm will punish Facebook Pages that require users to click Like to gain access to content. So, instead of forcing people to Like something, why not just ask them to Like it instead?
Companies that have been following this method of gaining Likes have found that simply asking people for a Like won't necessarily work. Instead, you should try to include some benefits or reasons as to why users should click Like. For example, creating a badge that goes onto Facebook campaigns that says "Like us for updates, new contests, great freebies, etc." will likely see more interaction.
Similarly, putting a suggestion at the end of emails and forms on your website has also proven to work well. The key here is if you provide your followers with value and a reason to Like your page, they generally will. With some creative thinking and a different strategy you may find that overall interaction with your Page increases beyond what it would have done with a Like-gate approach.
If you are looking to learn more about this change, and how it can affect your company, contact us today.