On Friday, August 11th, 2014 – Facebook made a major announcement. They announced that they are no longer allowing companies to like-gate their content. This was yet another unexpected and unwelcome change to Facebook’s terms of service for businesses running Facebook pages. Why is this simple change so bad and what does it say about Facebook?
What is Like-Gating?
Like-gating is a technique used by marketers to raise the like count on their page. This is similar to content-bait used to get email addresses on websites all around the web. The technique is simple. I spend a lot of time and money making something you want. Instead of giving it away for free, I ask you to provide me your email address and sign up for my newsletter. In exchange for you doing that action then I give you the content you wanted.
In reality this is a win-win. I know you are willing to give me your email address in order to receive the product that I am making. So I put time and money into making that content. You simply need to provide me an email address, which is something I want. We all win. This is often times called Quid-Pro-Quo in the legal world, which literally translates into “something for something” in Latin.
Like gating is essentially the same thing. I provide something you want, and in exchange I am asking you to like my Facebook page. Technically, like-gating goes one step further, you won’t be able to get what I am offering unless you like my page. Once you like my page you can view my content as you wish.
This is most commonly used on Facebook in forms of contests, giveaways, and coupons.
Why is Like-Gating Good?
Like-gating is good because it allows me to offer private deals, giveaways or information to my loyal fans. It’s safe to assume that people that like my page are more loyal customers than the ones that don’t like my page. You like many pages on Facebook surely, don’t you wish you got treated with some extra love by the company than everyone else that isn’t particularly involved on the page?
Like-gating is also a valuable technique to promote your reach. In the same way that content marketing has become so valuable, so is facebook content. Companies spend millions of dollars promoting free, high quality educational content all around the internet that anyone can take advantage of at no cost. These companies’ efforts are what make the internet so great. If there was no incentive for marketers to create good content, then they wouldn’t do it and we wouldn’t have nearly as much awesome information available to us on the internet. we would be relying on people with technical skills to develop content from the botttom of their hearts. We all know that that wouldn’t take us very far.
If you are reading my blog then you are a marketer, and as a marketer you want to publish content that adds value for users. You also want to build a community. One of the strongest elements of a community is exclusivity. Would anyone register to vote if you didn’t have to in order to vote? You are willing to offer a coupon to build the size of your community, but if anyone can get that coupon regardless of whether they join the community, you are less inclined to offer it. This is an experience that hurts everyone, but most of all the companies that are running the Facebook page.
It is Clear Facebook Hates Your Company
We have seen these new changes over and over again with Facebook. I would love to hear an actual reaction from Facebook on this matter, but to me it seems like Facebook hates the companies that build pages on their network. That is fine if Facebook wants to hate on a segment of their userbase, but the stupidity is, that Facebook is biting the hand that feeds them.
How much money does Facebook make off it’s actual users? I am talking about Grandma, and Mom, and your Aunt Sally who never leaves Facebook watching videos and tagging photos all day long, raking up the bill for Facebook server resources over at Facebook HQ. Do any of these people contribute to Facebook’s bottom line? NOPE!
Technically (since I know at least one person will say this), there are a few ways that Facebook makes money off those people, which is to charge them for Facebook credits, or they can pay $1 to send a message and not be put in the junk box of the recipient (most of these people don’t even know about this however). All of us here know that while a few dollars might come through these consumer means, that does not even begin to cover the cost of Facebook’s business. Facebook makes their money off of businesses ran by Marketers like you and me!
Marketers pay the costs for Facebook. We pay for advertising and for promoted posts, these are the real ways Facebook makes money. Sadly I am not sure they realize this because all the evidence seems to point to the fact that they are trying to get companies to stop making Facebook pages. This new rule is a perfect example of just that. Now that I can not add exclusivity to my community, what reasons do I have to continue using Facebook as a tool?
Compound this with what Facebook introduced almost 2 years ago now, limiting exposure of your posts to around 10% of your fans.
These new rules limit the effectiveness of Facebook as a marketing tool. When I have $1,000 of additional budget to allocate to marketing channels, where am I going to allocate the new funds? Would I put it towards Facebook, the marketing channel that disrespects me and I have no control over, or towards a channel like my email list that I can control? I know where my money is going.
- I don’t own my Facebook audience
- I can not export my Facebook audience to use or target elsewhere
- My network can not directly contact me
- I do not have control over the content I publish
- I know that down the road more features that I take for granted will be taken away (we saw this with like-gating, with surveys, with custom html, etc) and I will have no control over it.
- I can not target the people that like my page (only about 10% will be exposed to my post).
- I will be expected to pay for normal posts to get full exposure (this can cost upwards of $500 a post!)
- I have no customizability over the experience
- I have no way to directly reach out to a specific user (except reply to a post they have and hope they see it).
This network is so limited and so out of the Marketers control that I would strongly caution anyone spending time on Facebook Marketing to go elsewhere.
Facebook has a good product which is retargeting and targeted PPC ads. But as far as the Facebook page is concerned, I think that it is on its’ way out. Personally I think Facebook is trying to slowly discourage companies from building up pages. I think Facebook’s logic is that companies clutter the experience. They will make their money off of their new retargeting network and their PPC ads which have been improving of late. Facebook made on very welcome change to PPC ads on Facebook a year or so ago, which was that you can now link off site, instead of forcing them to visit your Facebook page.
This is further evidence that Facebook is losing interest in their own Facebook Pages. Facebook wants to build up the experience for their normal customers, create a nirvana for Aunt Sussie, and then you, as a Company, can pay to target her via PPC ads in her timeline, filled with cats, and outdated photos of her grandchildren, whom have all abandoned Facebook already.