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Why Facebook Like-Gates are Dead

Well, not exactly “dead”. They're still massively used by brands on Facebook. The reason for this is simple – brands; just like the majority of people, see Facebook as a popularity contest. The more friends/likes you have, the more popular/successful you are: Enter Facebook Like-Gates. Using like-gates as a metric though, is becoming increasingly outdated.

american eagle facebook like-gateLike-Gating content on your brand page is a simple way to increase your number of likes. If someone wants to play a game you’ve designed, or enter a competition, they have to like your brand before they are able to proceed. This theoretically increases your reach, as most users will publish this information to their news feed, further enhancing your audience. But let’s consider the practicality and value of this process for a second.

In a previous article I stated that within social media, two factors remain paramount; content and engagement. These two factors are inherently linked and are the metrics you should really be measuring your social media success on. If you fill your page with exciting, shareable content, engagement will inevitably follow.

Likewise, if your brand page is just one long sales pitch, there are very few users who would take it upon themselves to share said content or actively engage with your brand. Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer hit the nail on the head when she said “You have a voice. Your customers are listening and your customers are talking, so engage with them.”

‘Forcing’ someone to like your brand is akin to dragging someone by the scruff of the neck into your front room, and sitting them in front of a TV so that they can watch your TV advert. Sure, they’re watching the advert, but do they actually want to? Of course they don’t, and as soon as the opportunity arises they will switch the TV off. In Facebook terms, that means un-liking your brand. Most tech-savvy Facebook users will also remove any evidence of their previous liking of your brand from their homepage and news feed, so what have you actually gained?

From a metrics perspective, Likes are incredibly old fashioned and difficult to measure. When a user likes your brand, the page auto-refreshes and your number of likes goes up by 1. What happens though, when a user un-likes your brand? Not much. If you delve deep into your analytics tools you can see how many users have un-liked your page on any given day, but that’s about it. There is no notification process in place to make you aware of the loss of a follower, and for all intents and purposes that user still has access to your brand page, even though they no longer Like your page. So the Gate opens to let you in, and then forgets to close behind you.

Facebook’s internal analytics tools for Developers are a testament to their own despise of Like-Gates. The one and only metric available is a simple ‘number of likes’. You can however use the various tools at your disposal to found out much more interesting information; such as the number of people that are currently talking about your brand, and also the number of people that are sharing your content. Remember, Facebook "helps you connect and share with the people in your life", and these priceless insights into your apps/pages levels of success are the metrics you should really be interested in, and more importantly focusing your strategy on.

From a developer’s perspective, Like-Gates are becoming increasingly difficult to incorporate. It seems that particularly since the recent changes to brand timelines, developers are having to jump through more and more hoops in order to employ a simple Like-Gate. What was once a straightforward line or two of code has turned into a full-blown custom page or app. Might it be that Facebook are consciously attempting to phase Like-Gates out from brand pages completely? We think so.

Brands seem to be forgetting the most simple of things when trying to engage on Facebook. Instead of forcing someone to Like your brand in order to enter a competition, why not fill your page with interesting, relevant content that will generate new Likes irrespective of rewards? If you want to further enhance the user experience and your brand perception, why not enter all of your new followers into a monthly prize draw? It doesn’t have to be an all-singing, all-dancing prize that costs you thousands. As the old saying goes, it really is the thought that counts.

Join The Conversation

  • Oct 3 Posted 4 years ago David Pierpont

    I think most of the comments here sum up why I think this article's premise is not correct, respectfully of course. Here is a very simple reason why. Most people are not going to the brand's page, they are "engaging" with the brand most of the time via the posts that they see in their feeds. How did that happen? In the beginning especially, opportunities to build fan base through like-gating when appropriate.

    You then need to do what the author said and follow-up with good content. That in time will help net out what we all want, which is organic growth. But, even the best brands on Facebook will hit plateaus and will need some infusion of ad buys and fan building tactics like sweeps to get the community to the next level. Let’s just say most marketers would have a heart attack if Facebook removed like-gating all together. 

  • Jul 31 Posted 4 years ago Aaron Velthoven

    I respectfully disagree with this post. As a marketer, like-gating content is a great tool to increase your fans/reach for future messaging, similar to collecting email address for CRM marketing, although asking for a 'like' is, in my mind, a very low-barrier ask from consumers. While I agree content and engagement are important, reach isn't something that should be overlooked, as the growth of your page can help you reach more consumers who'll engage with your content. They're all connected.


    Also, I find it curious that the example/solution the author throws out at the end - "...why not enter all of your new followers into a monthly prize draw?" - is against Facebook's promotion guidelines and, from my experience, cannot be executed with Facebook's current api.


  • Mark_McG9's picture
    May 25 Posted 5 years ago Mark_BigDot

    While I do agree with you to a certain extent Dimanise, I would suggest that the vast majority of brand content on Facebook  is anything but "great". Most of it is designed with the sole purpose of encouraging a new 'like' - whether that be a competition with a (generally) worthless prize, or similar. I understand the importance of data capture to brands, but what is actually gained from a temporary like from a FB user? A new email address to add to your bulk mailing list, that will almost inevitably be ignored by the end user? Most FB users will go out of their way to disassociate themselves with a brand after they have entered the competition/played the game for a few minutes etc, imo.

  • May 24 Posted 5 years ago dimanise

    I would compare Facebook Like-Gates to capturing email and other contact information by offering ebooks and whitepapers. Without these, you'd be providing great content but that doesn't mean that everybody would go out of their way to dish out their contact details. It's a way to incentivize content providers to continue to generate great articles, inforgraphics and videos. And unliking a page is similar to how many people would unsubsribe from newspaper they get signed up for after getting a whitepaper.

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