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Social Media Marketing for Business

Brooks Tiffany

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October 30, 2014

Good Riddance to the Facebook Like Gate: 7 Better Strategies to Score High Quality Likes

October 30, 2014 | By | 22 Comments">22 Comments

The Like Gate is nearing its official end and many of you are understandably upset because it’s been an integral part of your social marketing strategy for quite some time now. Well, I’m here to tell you it’s going to be alright. The Like Gate wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.  Read on to find out why you won’t miss the Like Gate and learn seven sharp strategies you can use to gain new, high quality Likes. After putting these to use, you’ll be saying “good riddance to the like gate,” too.

FacebookLikeGate3

In Case You Missed It

Let’s start with a quick recap of events to bring everybody up to speed. Back on August 7, Facebook announced some new updates on their developer’s blog. Gently tucked in towards the end of this blog post was the following:

“You must not incentivize people to use social plugins or to like a Page. This includes offering rewards, or gating apps or app content based on whether or not a person has liked a Page. It remains acceptable to incentivize people to login to your app, checkin at a place or enter a promotion on your app’s Page. To ensure quality connections and help businesses reach the people who matter to them, we want people to like Pages because they want to connect and hear from the business, not because of artificial incentives. We believe this update will benefit people and advertisers alike”

Simply put, no more forcing a person to “Like” your Fan Page in exchange for a reward. Facebook wants people to want to Like your Page, not exchange it like an over-inflated currency. This is simply a step towards curbing that inflation and restoring value to the Like. No new Like Gates have been allowed since the announcement and any existing Like Gates are grandfathered in up until November 5th – when the last of the Like Gates will disappear.

Why the Like Gate Wasn’t Good For Fan Engagement

The Like Gate was indeed a powerful tool, at least on paper. Lock the promotion up, only give “Likers” the key, and watch the numbers go up. The problem with this is that those numbers often can’t be trusted because many of those Likes are empty and soulless – a ghost that will never engage with your page again but will return to haunt you.

According to a study done by consulting agency Syncapse last year, almost 50% of Fans Liked a Page because they simply wanted to support their brand – that’s awesome! However, 42% of fans Liked a page in order to get a coupon or discount while 35% Liked a page to participate in contests.

Don’t get me wrong here, those latter percentages are awesome, too; coupons and contests are beautiful marketing tools on Facebook. Again, the problem is that a decent number of those Fans came for nothing more than a reward – best to let those freeloaders be on their way without forcing them to Like your page – let me tell you why.FansOfBrands

Those freeloaders create what I refer to as “Like baggage.” You’re carrying the weight of a Like that isn’t helping you . In fact, it’s hurting you. Why? Because Facebook’s algorithm holds that Like against you when it doesn’t engage. Boring, unoriginal, and  irrelevant content gets less engagement. Less engagement is a red flag, and red flags tell Facebook to hide your content. That’s the law of the land.

Of course, your content isn’t boring, unoriginal, or irrelevant, but the Like Gate may have been accruing fans that dinged you in the eyes of the algorithm. You’re better off with fewer Fans who are far more engaged. In fact, it’s recommended that you frequently sift through your Likes and remove any “fake” ones. Yes, it hurts to see that Like count go down, but it’s for the better – just think of it as Spring cleaning for your Facebook Page.

Now let’s talk about some strategies you can use to gain new Facebook Likes and also ensure that those new Likes are high quality ones.

1. Protect Your Page From Low Quality Facebook Likes

Restricting access to your Page is the perfect starting point for your Like-cleansing journey. You can choose to only show your page to certain countries, or set it to only exclude certain countries. This is great for keeping spammers and fake accounts at bay.

It’s also an excellent way to ensure your page is only available to your target audience. Does your company strictly cater to an English speaking audience? Only include countries where that’s a major language. Does your company limit operation to the United States? Make your Facebook Page the same!

To restrict access to your page, go to your page settings and select the “general” tab. From here just select “country restrictions” and decide which ones you want to include or exclude.

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You can also set age restrictions if you’re targeting a specific demographic. You’ll find that setting just below the country restrictions.

Now that you’ve got you’ve protected your page from unworthy Likes, lets move forward!

2. Design your Page to Encourage Likes and Engagement

I’m always pleasantly surprised when I come across a Page that has done something creative within the constraints of Facebook’s layout and I wish more would follow suit. One of those creative things you can do is design your cover photo to point to your Like button or an ongoing promotion.

Many people will visit your Page’s timeline only once and that may be the only chance you have to convince them that your page is worth following. Do it with a well-designed cover photo that reminds them of the Like button. That, along with high quality posts and an exciting promotion shows them that your Page is happening! It’s hard not to Like and engage a Page that knows exactly what it’s doing.

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3. Run Contests With Exciting, Relevant Prizes

Contests are the Swiss army knife of Facebook Pages. They create excitement, foster strong brand awareness, engage Fans, collect leads, generate virality, and encourage new Likes, ultimately growing your Fan Page. But they can also be a double-edged sword if you’re not careful!

Placing a Like Gate over a contest was a common practice that certainly provided a lot of instant gratification for Fans and Pages alike, however, it really reduced the value of the Like in the long run. Contests that offered generalized prizes (that everyone would want) were shooting themselves in the foot – especially if they placed said contest behind a Like Gate.

To gain a more high quality Like, choose a prize that is fun and aligns closely with the interests of your target audience and be sure to include a Like and Share button on the contest!

By offering a highly targeted prize and not forcing your audience to Like your page, you can rest assured that only people who are truly interested in your Page will have Liked it. The ones who didn’t Like your page were going to be Like baggage anyways, so you’re better off with out them!

Sqauw Valley

Facebook does not allow businesses to publish their own apps so work with third party apps like Heyo to create your contest.

4. Add Facebook Social Plug-Ins To your Website, Blog

This is one of the oldest, most tried and true strategies in the book. However, you’d be surprised how many websites don’t take full advantage of it. Make use of Facebook’s social plug-ins by including a Like button, comment stream or other social plug-in on your website or blog.

Don’t worry, all it takes is inserting a little snippet of code that you can find on the Facebook developer’s site. Once you have your Like button installed, you’ll want to give your visitors a reason to click it. Many websites take the step of adding a Like button, but tuck it away in a corner where it’s less visible.

If you’re serious about grabbing high quality Likes, call your website visitors to action and let them know that they need to click “Like” if they want to stay up to date with the latest awesome things your brand has to offer. After all, they did seek out your website and that makes them high quality lead – turn them into a high quality Like!

Imgur recently did a “Facebook Like Day” and slapped an eye-catching banner across the top of their page. It used a call to action and gave a good reason as to why someone who likes their website should like their page. I frequent Imgur and had never thought of their Facebook page. Their Facebook banner earned them a new, high quality Like from yours truly.

KittyGoggles

5. Send a Dedicated Email To Your List

It might seem strange that you need to convert existing leads into Facebook Fans, because, well you’ve already got them on your email list! Email lists generally have a high ROI which means that the people on that list are primed to be a high quality Like. Having these leads Like your page is like knocking out two birds with one stone – not only are they available to you via more channels, their engagement with your brand boosts your Facebook Page’s status, which means higher visibility, which means more high quality Fans which means more engagement – it’s a beautiful cycle!

Now, by dedicated email, I mean one that is focused on getting your list to Like your Facebook Page. You don’t want the email to be about anything else (such as company news). The focus of the email should be about the Like.

Here are some recommendations on how to craft a great email from our very own COO (and email guru) Chris Riegger:

Recommendations

● Ensure it is a dedicated email. This means that you don’t use the email for any other purposes, such as to share company news. The sole purpose of the email should be to ask your email audience to “Like” your Facebook Page.

● Keep it simple. Consumer attention spans are getting shorter all the time. Personally, I like email copy that is friendly, crisp, and direct.

● Offer an incentive. Feel free to provide some kind of offer to readers to stimulate activity. You’re not forcing them to Like, you’re encouraging it with an offer aligned with your brand’s message.

6. Never, ever buy Likes

This should go without being said but it still happens. Buying Likes is buying Like baggage. Not only are these not high quality Likes – they’re anti-Likes. They are going going to cost you time and money, and they are going to hurt you. We protected your page in the first step to help keep these kinds of Likes out – so don’t go and pay for them!

It’s understandably very tempting to take this short-cut because it quickly pumps your fan count way up and saves your Page from looking like a newbie. But eventually that Like baggage will catch up with you and rear its ugly head. Your engagement will suffer and Facebook’s algortithm will hate you! Don’t do it!

If you’ve got the budget, here’s the correct way to spend it in search of high quality Likes.

7. Instead, Use Highly Targeted Facebook Advertising

Facebook Ads offers a finely tuned targeting tool that will help you reach relevant, untapped audiences. Use Facebook ads along with your contests and content to create a high quality Like and lead magnet. Tools such as Audience Insights help make it possible to research and target exactly the audience you are looking for and ensure that you get the most bang for your buck.

Now this isn’t something you want to shoot from the hip on. There are some bells, whistles, buttons, and dials you’ll need to have figured out first. Do your research and know your target audience! For some help on how to promote on Facebook effectively, check out our “How To Promote Your Campaign On Facebook” webinar on the Heyo YouTube channel.

Now Go Get Those High Quality Facebook Likes

Remember that it’s all about engagement – create relevant, high quality, engaging content and the Likes will come. Not just any Likes, but the right Likes. The Likes that you want and need. You should never have to force someone to Like your page and with the Like Gate gone, it’s a no longer an issue.

If you put the above strategies to use, high quality Likes will come. Forget about the Like Gate! Instead, equip your Page with a Swiss Army knife! Launch a mobile optimized campaign that will bring in high quality Facebook Likes, Fan engagement, email captures, and sales. Click here to sign up, and we’ll show you how to launch one that converts at 10% or higher.

Comment

Have you used the Like Gate? Did you find that it helped or hindered your campaigns? What’s your primary strategy for gaining high quality Likes? Do you want to vent about the Like Gate? Sound off in the comments below!

Brooks Tiffany

Meet 

Brooks Tiffany is the Customer Engagement Leader and Technical Writer at Heyo in Blacksburg, VA. He's an Air Force veteran with a B.A. in English from Virginia Tech. He'll start pursuing an M.S. in Human Centered Design and Enginnering at the University of Washington this Fall.

  • http://www.socialmediabuzz.com/ Jamie Mather

    Great Article thanks Brooks. I think the
    like gate overall has probably been misused and caused more harm than good. It really depends on the type of product and market and prize you were offering.

    I do have examples where the like gate was
    a massive and legitimate success.

    One I had a cosmetic Facebook page which was an anti-ageing cream aimed at women over 27 so that’s a pretty broad target.
    In fact even competition junkies of all kinds fit in to my target
    group, and if they themselves didn’t want to buy chances are half of their friends would be interested to take a look. I used paid targeted adverts to get my initial interest and very quickly get 15,000 fans through my like gate.
    Morethan half of them went on to register their email so I have more than 7000 double opt in email addresses to market to. The social proof was strong and the product popularity was high. Regular content updates about the competition itself cause high engagement so looked good to Facebook too.

    The prize was a winning a set of the skin creams so it was relevant to the LIKE target audience too.

    Overall I’m going to agree but it will be missed for my legitimate marketing exercises in future.

    Jamie Mather http://www.socialmediabuzz.com

    • http://www.brookstiffany.com Brooks Tiffany

      Hi Jamie – thank you for your thoughtful and detailed comment! I agree that it was misused for the most part, but, yes – there were definitely products and markets like yours that benefited greatly from it. It sounds like you had all your bases covered and then some with that campaign!

      Do you think any of the strategies listed above will be able to compensate? Or do you have any additional strategies you are planning on implementing to help fill the void?

      • http://www.socialmediabuzz.com/ Jamie Mather

        HI Brooks
        I think for 99% of the businesses out there, everything you already said makes sense. Smaller number of real and real engaged fans (and buyers) is way better. The only problem I have is the social proof side. People are acclimatised to see bigger numbers and sites with small numbers look unpopular. This for me gives unfair advantage to the people who got there before the “Like Gate” block and have hundreds or thousands of fans on display. Heyo’s competition tool’s with their competition engine and “LIKE – Request” part will play their part. If I needed personally to re instate LIKE gates in an alternative form I would probably lead them to a facebook Tab with the Sales Pitch Landing Page for the FREE Entry and then on button click I would take them off Facebook and to my own off site Like Gate (all in the right way to not break FBs Terms of Service of course ) in Which Case I’d probably follow through with asking them to support Multiple Social Platforms not just FB. If the Sales Argument and Proposition Benefits are strong enough people go to great lengths to get their hand on the prize. Hope didn’t bore you to death 🙂 Again Thanks Brook for the Article.

        • http://www.brookstiffany.com Brooks Tiffany

          That’s great stuff, Jamie – definitely not boring at all 🙂 Thanks for reading and providing such good insight with your comments. I definitely get it about the big numbers and popularity making a first impression – maybe we’ll get to a point where people will look first to the actual engagement (likes, comments, and other activity) of a page first instead of going by the fan count!

  • Sarah Kerrigan

    Really great post! Covers all the reasons why you shouldn’t buy likes and why Pages should even be more picky with who likes their page!

    http://www.thatsocialmediagirl.co.uk

    • http://www.brookstiffany.com Brooks Tiffany

      Thank you, Sarah! Yes, it’s definitely time to put value back into the Like – Facebook is actively pushing for this and will reward Pages that follow suit. Do you run a Facebook Page?

      • Sarah Kerrigan

        Yes I do Brooks. I run the Made Simple Facebook Page and we have recently (this week) reached 4000 (all genuine) likes!

        • http://www.brookstiffany.com Brooks Tiffany

          That’s awesome – congrats!

  • http://www.shoptab.net Zach Beattie

    Excellent info, and all great strategies. We help small businesses create Facebook stores over at http://www.shoptab.net, and every time one of our stores tries to “buy likes” it ends poorly.

    There’s one strategy you missed that a lot of people tend to forget…

    Invite your Facebook friends!

    If you’re an admin of the page it’s one of the easiest ways to start building your fan base if you want to get some initial traction, but it also seems to be one of the most overlooked. It works especially well for local businesses.

    • http://www.brookstiffany.com Brooks Tiffany

      Hi Zach – thank you for reading and thanks for the tip! You’re right – that is an excellent (and very overlooked strategy) – Your Facebook friends are one of the best support groups you can have for your Page.

  • Winston Raymond Thomas

    How are “Share” Gates affected by all this? Or are they?

    • http://www.brookstiffany.com Brooks Tiffany

      Hey Winston – thanks for commenting! “Share Gates” don’t’ exist in the same capacity that the Like Gate did. Apps can still ask for Facebook Permissions and see whether or not a person has shared or liked a page and run contests requiring people to do those things, however, Facebook prohibits that in their terms (they’ve banned requiring a share for quite some time) I know that Pages out there are still doing this stuff despite the terms, but they run the risk of getting banned by Facebook.

  • http://thedesignbender.com/ Joy Ezeka

    Wow! Thank you for this article. I especially loved #1.

    • http://www.brookstiffany.com Brooks Tiffany

      You’re welcome, Joy! Thanks for reading! Yes, #1 is often overlooked but extremely helpful when it comes to protecting your Page. Have you ever had issues with suspicious Likes?

  • http://intesols.com.au/ Moin Shaikh

    Great article Brooks! Just wanted to clear my doubt: Is this going to kill off the facebook campaigns? Example:

    –> A brand is having an ad campaign: “Come to our pizza store, show this coupon and get x% discount!”

    See no like was asked here, still is it affected by this update?
    Thanks

    • http://www.brookstiffany.com Brooks Tiffany

      Hi Moin – thank you for reading and commenting! No worries, this update isn’t going to kill Facebook campaign – just the “gate” that was previously allowed to block access to them.

      So your Pizza Coupon discount campaign is totally safe! Do you have a Facebook page that you are running campaigns on?

  • http://www.brookstiffany.com Brooks Tiffany

    Thanks for reading! I agree that focusing on the visitors and adjusting your strategy accordingly is the way to go. It’s all about aligning your things with their interests. If you just collect mass amounts of Likes, how do you know you are speaking to the right audience, or that anyone will even hear you? It will be interesting to see the new strategies that arise from this update.

  • http://www.brookstiffany.com Brooks Tiffany

    Thanks Alex! I’m thrilled to hear you’re launching a contest with Heyo! And I’m glad to hear you were were able to take some strategies away from this article and put them to use. If you need any help with the Heyo app, just let me know!

  • http://www.brookstiffany.com Brooks Tiffany

    Thanks for the post, Monica – that’s awesome! That cover photo is the embodiment of what this article is about! I wish I could triple upvote this!

  • http://www.brookstiffany.com Brooks Tiffany

    Hi Steve – thanks for reading and thank you for the in depth and thoughtful post. No worries on the typos 🙂

    I do understand where you are coming from and you’re definitely not alone in that camp. You are right that what Facebook Giveth, they can take away.

    Whether or not Facebook planned this all along to maximize revenue, I do not know – I can certainly see the case for the bait and switch. Facebook did initially push for gathering Likes and then cut businesses off from those Likes. And now it seems that they have reversed course and are trying to make it harder to get Likes. (all the while increasing revenue)

    Yes, no matter how you slice it – Facebook makes out like a bandit. But the thing is, they offer unprecedented ad targeting options and tools and many businesses are achieving great success and ROI using them – so I do think Facebook is improving the quality of the relationship between business and consumer. (and yes, the methods they have used to get to this point are definitely questionable)

    It is scary how quickly things can change and often times it’s just a matter of rolling with the punches and that’s the aim of this article.

    I do get a lot of feedback on Facebook’s practices, so I think an article about their history and changes up to this point may be in store 🙂

    Thanks again for such a great comment!

  • Helen

    This has been really useful for me – I work for a small retail and web based company and am just finding may through the murky world of social media. I ran a Facebook competition using the Heyo free trial, for a small prize and it worked well, although the learning curve was steep for a complete beginner! I am about to launch a new sweepstake with Heyo with a much bigger prize and am terrified of not making the most of the opportunity.

    I’d like to get more likes and shares for the page, but I’ve found in the previous competition that people weren’t doing this – they were only leaving their email addresses, or liking the post, not the page. I’m also finding that our reach is very small, so will look at using the Facebook advertising.

    • http://www.brookstiffany.com Brooks Tiffany

      Thanks for reading Helen! I’m glad to hear your Facebook competition with Heyo went well. I know it can be a daunting task for a complete beginner but it sounds like you aced the test 🙂

      Reach is definitely an issue on Facebook and it’s especially difficult for smaller pages that are trying to grow.

      If you interesting in learning a bit more about promoting on Facebook, our COO, Chris Riegger actually hosted a webinar that goes over using the Facebook Ads Platform and advanced targeting strategies —> http://bit.ly/10wODo3

      If you need any help with the follow up contest just let us know and we’re happy to lend a hand!