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Is Like-Gating Your Facebook Campaigns Still a Best Practice?

Like-Gating your Facebook campaignLike-gating your campaigns — contests, newsletter sign-ups, etc. – can be helpful if you want to drive new Page Likes, but it’s not necessarily the best way to go. So before you lock your campaigns behind a Like-gate, here are a couple of things to consider.

The first issue is that users may decide to unlike your brand’s Page after the promotion is over. This is actually a fairly common phenomenon: When consumers were asked why they “unlike” brands on Facebook, 26 percent said they only Liked a company to take advantage of a one-time offer, according to an infographic from Get Satisfaction and Column Five.

The second thing to keep in mind is that the number of “genuine” Likes your Page gets — the  number of people who Like your brand for more than just a contest — can be distorted by a Like-gated promotion.

The best approach if you want to get lots of promotion entries and shares is to “give-to-get.”

The give-to-get approach is simple: You give everyone (fans and non-fans) the chance to enter your promotion and access content — i.e., there is no Like-gating — and your business gets valuable information from your fans and people who are not yet your fans. This information could be email addresses or insights from a poll your users have to take in order to enter your promotion.

You might be wondering, what’s the big deal with Liking a Page? From our research, we’ve learned there are several reasons a person might not want to Like a brand’s Page on Facebook. Here are a few of the most common:

  1. They don’t want their friends to know they’ve Liked a certain business on Facebook. This might be because they’re not familiar with the business and don’t yet know whether they actually like it enough to go public.
  2. They don’t know or aren’t passionate enough about the brand to follow it online.
  3. The brand’s online content hasn’t given them reason enough to want to keep up with it.

Keeping these three things in mind, let us explain how, in the real world, Like-gating does not work for businesses.

Imagine you own a restaurant. Outside of your restaurant, there are two equal lines of people waiting to get in:

• Line #3: This line consists of people, mostly locals and regulars, who have been to your restaurant before and like your business.

• Line #2: This line consists of people, mostly from out of town, who have never been to your restaurant before. These folks discovered your business by reading a great review of your business online, via a friend’s recommendation or they saw an ad for your restaurant.

Now imagine you walk outside and tell the people in line #2 that they are not allowed into your restaurant until they go online and profess they like your eatery — an establishment they have yet to try, mind you. Sounds crazy, right? Because it is!

In the real world, no business owner in their right mind would turn away potential business or the opportunity to expose new people to their brand. Nor would he/she want to deliberately annoy potential customers.

Online, however, is a different matter. Brands do this all the time when they implement Like-gating tactics on their Facebook Pages.

Reserving all your brand’s best stuff for people who already know how awesome your business is, is wasteful and unproductive. The alternative is much smarter:  Brands should be strategically sharing their awesome branded content with as many new people as possible. When a new person genuinely likes what your brand offers, they’ll feel compelled to “Like” you — the action won’t need forcing.

Here is a recap of the three big lessons from this article: 
  1. Don’t ask potential customers of your “restaurant” to give you their online stamp of approval, e.g., to Like your Facebook Page, before they’ve even had the chance to try your “food.”
  2. Like-gating to drive new Page Likes is a backward concept. If one of your Facebook goals is to grow your business, keep your Page like an open invitation. This will allow new users to learn as much as they can about your brand, better enabling them to decide if they genuinely “Like” your brand or not.
  3. You can encourage people to Like your brand’s Page, but it’s not a good practice to force it.

* This is an excerpt from ShortStack's newest eBook Why Every Business Needs to Stop Obsessing About Facebook Likes.” 


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