To grow your followers, do you incentivize people to Like your Facebook page? Possibly offering a coupon code in return for a page Like? This tactic is also commonly used for Facebook contests and games. Users are forced to Like a page before entering a contest or continuing to play a game after running out of “lives.”
Well, retailers, if you’re guilty of this, it’s time to bust out some new moves.
Facebook officially put an end to this act — which it calls “Like-gating” — in an August announcement. Its reasoning: “To ensure quality connections and help businesses reach the people who matter to them.” Facebook wants people to Like pages because they want to connect with and hear from the business, not because of incentives.
Some might argue that the motive behind this policy change is to steer retailers toward paid advertising on Facebook. Maybe. But in most cases, the result of incentivized page Likes are artificial fans. These fans Liked your page for the reward, not because of brand affiliation. The overall policy change will help eliminate junk fans and encourage genuine engagement. Facebook claims this update will benefit both advertisers and Facebook users.
How Will Facebook Enforce the Change?
In the past, Facebook’s API gave third-party apps — the ones used for Like-gated campaigns — the ability to tell whether a Facebook user Liked the page. As a result, page owners could hide certain content from users who hadn’t Liked the page. With the policy change, Facebook has removed this capability from its API.
Help, I’m Guilty! What Should I Do?
The API changes affect only active Like-gated campaigns. If your business is running this type of campaign, users now have access to whatever content you were gating behind a Like. In other words, Facebook’s new API is showing content you’ve designated through a third-party app to all Facebook users, regardless of whether they’ve Liked your page.
Removing the campaign entirely or tweaking the campaign copy from “Like our page in order to ____)” would be your best move.
So What Now?
This policy change reinforces the timeless phrase “quality over quantity.” As social media marketing advances, the metrics used to measure success will continue to shift.
Stop using overall page Likes as a measurement of success. What retailers should really care about is users’ engagement with a page’s Facebook content. What’s the point of having thousands of fans if only 100 actually care about what your brand stands for? You’ll probably see fewer new Likes on your Facebook page in the future, but you can rest assured knowing that the Likes you receive are from people loyal to your brand.
Still bitter about losing the Like-gate tactic? Use it as an opportunity to breathe new life into your marketing strategy. If you need ideas, we’ve compiled Facebook page-growth success stories for three online retailers: Netflix, Legos and Z Gallerie. Each retailer uses innovative strategies to captivate fans and increase engagement.
Blog post by Jordan Nowlin, social media and blog manager, ChannelAdvisor