With an End to Like Gating in Sight, What can Businesses Do to Prepare?
Along with the decision on the part of Facebook to break their messenger functionality out of it’s mobile platform and into its own app (with a laundry list of permissions required to use it, garnering controversy in its own right), another large announcement was put out that has much more direct implications for small business marketers. Like gating, the practice of asking for a “like” as a toll in order to enter a contest, download a whitepaper or view premium content, is going to be prohibited by Facebook by the 5th of November this year with the supporting code being removed. The announcement was written about in an article that appeared on Linkedin today, which attempted to clarify what is still allowed and what is not.
Why is Facebook deciding to remove like gating? One reason behind Facebook’s decision, according to the Linkedin article, is that through the act of exchanging something of tangible value for a like, it enters a state of being used as something akin to currency, opening up the potential for regulation and legal involvement that is seems Facebook would rather avoid. The secondary benefit that Facebook has highlighted as its primary reason for the changes is that it encourages more authentic relationships between followers and brands. After all, when you dangle a prize over someones head in exchange for a like, how reliably can you count on them to be a brand supporter and advocate? Many marketers have expressed that likes gained through gating methods are not reliable indicators of a brand’s popularity or drivers of conversions, but on the other hand, many others have long sworn by like gating as a means to creating buzz and brand recognition stating that when used in a responsible manner, gating certain content is mutually beneficial for consumers and brands. regardless on the stance any one individual has on like gating, with the extinction of the practice looming in the near future, preparing for it is now essential for those who have employed the technique.
What can small businesses who are using like gating do? Business owners still have a few months to create a strategy for dealing with the end of like gating. They will still be allowed to reward referrals, but will no longer be able to directly influence a user to like their page through an exchange of value. If a business is primarily using like gating as a means to drive social media growth, they should begin to shift their strategy towards establishing clear lines of reward for organic referrals, which can help them grow their page through word of mouth and influencers, as opposed to simple exchange of goods for likes as a stand in for currency.
Photo Credit to John Lodder on Flickr