Starting November 5, 2014 (and August 7, 2014 for all new apps) like-gating will no longer be allowed on Facebook Pages.
According to Facebook,
"You must not incentivize people to use social plugins or to like a Page. To ensure quality connections and help businesses reach the people who matter to them, we want people to like Pages because they want to connect and hear from the business, not because of artificial incentives. We believe this update will benefit people and advertisers alike."
This seems a long time coming, as Facebook has slowly been implementing changes that help businesses build a valuable Facebook presence, not just a Page filled with likes.
At ShortStack we have over 350,000 customers, all of whom are Facebook Page Admins. I'm always analyzing the data from our platform, and in recent months I've seen (and supported) a shift away from like-gating. In May we released an eBook titled Why Every Business Should Stop Obsessing Over Facebook Likes that has been well-received. We've also redesigned the entire ShortStack platform to allow marketers to build Campaigns that can achieve their goals independent from like-gating. Our recommended best practice is that businesses should be collecting actionable and valuable data such as emails, customer feedback...anything that is critical to their goals. If the customer wants to like your Page as well, that's great, just don't force them to.
Marketers who replace Like-Gating with "Action-Gating" should see a jump in ROI
The idea behind offering an incentive in return for a like is a tried-and-true Facebook marketing tactic that works...if your main goal is to just get a lot of likes and nothing else. Action-gating a Campaign (rewarding a user based on submitting data or performing an action besides liking a Page) gives businesses the ability to offer incentives in return for information that may be more valuable than a Facebook like. Gathering data such as email addresses can establish long-term communication with customers for little cost.
Facebook marketers can focus on campaigns beyond Facebook
Now that like-gating is a thing of the past, marketers can focus on collecting valuable information from more than just their Facebook audience. Sending Twitter followers, newsletter subscribers, Facebook Fans and others to a single, central Campaign not only increases the volume of information you'll gather, but it could also increase the quality of the information. Marketers may see different responses, trends and feedback when expanding their audience beyond Facebook. With ShortStack, your promotion or contest can live outside of Facebook completely, allowing anyone to participate, not just your Facebook audience.
You can still ASK people to like your Page
You're still able to encourage people to like your Page, you just can't require them to like it in order to enter a contest or receive other content from you. This practice will ensure that people who like your Page are doing so because they want to interact with your brand. We suspect that many businesses will see an increase in engagement once the fan base they are building is full of true fans of the brand, not people who only liked the Page for a chance to win an iPad.
This policy change is a sign that even Facebook knows that the size of a Page's like count isn't as valuable as much as the average Page admins think it is. I believe that when marketers begin shifting their thinking away from Like-gating they'll see better results from their efforts.