Enemies at the ‘like-gate’
Enemies at the ‘like-gate’

Marketers soon will lose one of their most reliable ways of incentivizing consumers to like their Facebook pages and opt-in to their content. Beginning Nov. 5, a new Facebook policy would essentially ban the practice of “like-gating,” by which brands require Facebook users to first like a brand page.....

Marketers soon will lose one of their most reliable ways of incentivizing consumers to like their Facebook pages and opt-in to their content. Beginning Nov. 5, a new Facebook policy would essentially ban the practice of “like-gating,” by which brands require Facebook users to first like a brand page before those consumers can enter a contest or access special content.

Of likely greater importance for franchise brands is that the like-gating ban also applies to special offers and rewards like coupons and discounts on a Facebook page.

“The bottom line is that businesses will now need to gain likes based on whether visitors to their pages want to connect with and hear from them, rather than the promotions they offer,” wrote Eve K. Reed of Wiley Rein LLP on the “Wiley on Media” blog. “Failure to comply can result in Facebook taking remedial action, up to and including disabling pages.”

With this change to Facebook’s terms and conditions, one marketing axiom remains the same and one is now radically different. First, Reed’s contention that brands need to gain likes through engaging content and relevant Facebook posts is the same as it ever was. Any brand that was getting likes and reach on Facebook solely through like-gating did not really have a successful social-marketing strategy in place.

But the tactic was useful for measuring the return on investment for offers on the social network. Brands could tell which discounts and offers were the most popular and engaging by watching their like counts rise depending on what they published.

Now, most brands probably would be hesitant to put many coupons or discounts on Facebook if there are fewer controls for how often somebody can redeem it. It would be the early days of Groupon and LivingSocial all over again, with franchisees unable to forecast just how big a surge in traffic would invade their stores and how much profit margin they could lose with an offer gone viral.

Brands and their marketing teams have a little more than two months to adjust plans to Facebook’s latest rule change, but neither they nor anybody else knows how the platforms terms and conditions will evolve further — or when.

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