What is like-gating and why did Facebook ban it?

by Socially Stacked

If you used apps like ShortStack, Heyo, TabSite or others in the past, you may have used like-gating, also known as the ‘fan-gating’ feature. It works by showing different content to fans and non-fans. Let’s take an example for brand A.

To make it work, you need to create different views for when the visitor is a fan or not. When you visit the custom app for brand A, Facebook checks if you’re a fan or not and presents the custom view. This hasn’t worked for a long time, because Facebook has banned it.

Why has Facebook banned it

To ensure high quality connections and to help companies reach the people who are important to them, companies want people to like their page. They want those people to get to know their company, not because of artificial stimuli, but because of their interest.

Facebook thinks that this update will benefit both visitors and advertisers. Facebook wants users to really like the brand pages, not because they have been promised a freebie or contest entry. In the end, Facebook says this will improve the experience for both users who see the content they really want to see and for advertisers, because “liking” based on interest is more effective.

According to Facebook, their actions make sense

The biggest problem with like-gating is that they don’t like it in exchange for the content. There is no implicit desire on the part of these users to see the content of that brand in their “newsfeed”. On the one hand, like-gating can be compared to websites that offer a valuable piece of content in exchange for an email address. In both cases, the interest of the visitor may decrease in value than if it is offered without a stimulus. This way of working is certainly an effective method of list building.

Negative impact of like-gating

The difference, however, is that the negative impact of like-gates goes much further. Facebook tells us that the average user would see 1500 stories on a certain day. To ensure that Facebook remains a pleasant social medium, only the best and most relevant content should appear. Facebook uses many signals to determine what users see. But like-gates confuse these signals.

Upgrading the value of a like

Facebook’s decision is intended to preserve the value of the “like”. It should ensure that users like a page, because they really want to get to know a certain brand. A bad user experience means that users spend less time on Facebook.

Less time on Facebook and fewer users also has a negative impact on advertisers. The implicit reason is obvious, advertisers need users to be online in order to target them. But it is also very important for advertisers to keep the value of “like”. If the “likes” a brand has built up through competitions and giveaways, its value is minimized.

Why it might be too late

This all sounds great, but I think Facebook is a few years behind with this change to make a big difference. There are over 1 billion Facebook users who already like dozens if not hundreds of pages. The audience is well established. Making this change will not do anything to the people who were encouraged to like pages in the past.

Although this should be a positive change, the quality improvement will be a drop in the ocean. It will hardly be noticeable, especially on larger pages.

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