The word is out! As of November 5, businesses will no longer be able to “like-gate” content on their Facebook Page. AllFacebook reported on this policy change, but the question that most marketers have now is “What can we do to continue to grow our Facebook presence?”
I’ll tell you in this post.
Like-Gating Worked … for Awhile
For several years like-gating was a popular form of Facebook marketing because it helped businesses grow their Facebook presence fairly quickly and consistently. From 2010 through 2012 the internet was buzzing with like-gating success stories. In December 2010, digital advertising agency Say It Social released a study that highlighted a 1733% increase in likes-per-day after running a like-gated campaign for a client.
In 2012, we had a ShortStack user report similar results. The Friendship Circle, a Michigan-based non-profit organization, ran a five-week like-gated campaign that brought them more than 44,300 new fans.
Companies appreciated the value of a Facebook like because when someone liked your page, they would start to see your posts in their news feed and be able to easily share the posts with their own networks. It’s easy to see why like-gating was such a popular practice.
Fast forward to 2014. What’s changed? A lot!
In the last year Facebook has made significant strides toward providing fans with a more valuable experience with the brands they follow. From algorithm changes, to the new Timeline layout, to the emphasis on advertising, the days of everyone seeing all of your content are long gone. The average Facebook user would see up to 1,500 stories in their news feed every day if Facebook’s algorithm didn’t adjust it to around 300! So, in light of Facebook’s push to provide a more valuable user experience, brands must re-think their marketing strategies.
So what can businesses do to continue to grow their Facebook presence? One tactic: action-gate!
Action-Gating is More Effective than Like-Gating
Action-gating is the act of “gating” content in exchange for information that is valuable to a brand’s business goals, e.g., age, location, email, customer feedback, etc. Until recently, businesses only thought of gating in exchange for likes. But I’ve been promoting action-gating for awhile now because it allows brands to gather more useful information.
How Businesses can Replace Like-Gating With Action-Gating
Step 1: Set some goals
If your main goal on Facebook was to increase likes, it’s time to think about other metrics that may be of value to your business. Try to think beyond Facebook. We’re recently ran a campaign where we surveyed businesses about their main social media marketing goal. Out of 290 responses, 35% said, “Convert my fans into leads and/or customers”; 25% said, “Drive traffic to my website”; 27% said, “Engage with my fans,” and .06% have said “Other.”
These results tell us that business’s goals lie beyond growing their likes. With action-gating you can achieve these goals and continue to grow your Facebook presence.
Step 2: Decide what information to collect
There is plenty of information that you can collect from your followers, so the key is to decide which details will be most valuable to help you meet your goals.
For example, let’s say your goal is convert your Facebook audience into sales.
Now lets say that you’re a carpet-cleaning company that has a new eco-friendly cleaner you want people to try. You’d want to run a campaign that includes a form asking your visitors if they use professional cleaning services and then poll them on the importance of environmentally friendly products.
Once they answered the questions and provided their email address, they’ll receive a $5 coupon for your latest product. Then, going forward, you can set up an email marketing campaign to promote any other specials and products.
Step 3: Provide extra chances to win in exchange for more feedback
No one likes to be asked a bunch of questions in order to win a prize. With action-gating you can offer different levels of prizes based on the information your fans are willing to provide to you.
For example, if you own a restaurant you could ask people to provide you with their name and email address in exchange for a 10-percent-off coupon for dinner.
However, if they’re willing to tell you what their favorite day of the week to eat out is and what their favorite menu item is they might get 15 percent off or a free entree with purchase.
Compare this sort of gradually increasing reward to like-gating: Once someone has liked your page to enter a contest the incentive is over. With action-gating you can implement multiple incentives and collect marketing leads and data from your fans.
The best part about action-gating is that you’re still able to ask your fans to like your page. A majority of the campaigns we see these days are published outside of Facebook, so businesses don’t have to deal with Facebook’s mobile restrictions, but they also ask their entrants to like them. By not forcing people to like your page, your audience will continue to grow, but with more valuable and engaged fans.
We recently had a student loan servicer run a promotion where they offered a $6,000 cash prize that could be put towards one winner’s existing college loan. Without like-gating their app they managed to grow their Facebook fans by 40,000 in less than three weeks. They did this by having clear goals and offering a relevant and valuable prize. Entrants naturally liked the page because they were grateful for the giveaway and didn’t mind hearing more from Great Lakes once the promotion ended.
Like-gating had it’s positives and negatives, but before you panic and abandon all of your Facebook marketing strategies, shift your thinking and take those like-gated ideas and turn them into lead generating action-gated campaigns.