The Demise of Facebook “Like Gates” and Alternative Marketing Strategies
Simon Slade

Last year, Facebook officially killed the Like Gate, a prominent marketing tactic once available on the platform. Businesses would offer some sort of incentive to visitors in exchange for them liking the page. When a user landed on the Like Gate page or page tab, Facebook would direct fans to one page and non-fans to a different page that requested their like in order to reveal the restricted content. Like Gating was commonly used for contests, giveaways, early bird mailing lists and e-books, but now it is no more.

The Dislike of Like Gating

Liking a Facebook profile for the sole reward of the promised incentive typically introduced disengaged fans to the site, especially compared to fans who liked the page because of their actual appreciation for the business or service. Not only does adding disengaged users to your Facebook likes generally not improve sales, but it could actually harm how Facebook applies its distribution algorithm to your Facebook posts.

Not every Facebook post appears in the News Feeds of all your fans. Instead, Facebook’s organic algorithm determines who to show the content to and how long to display it in fans’ News Feeds. After displaying the post in a percentage of your fans’ News Feeds, Facebook gauges the quality of the content based on how they react, such as liking it, sharing it, commenting on it or ignoring it.

If your fans actively respond to the post, Facebook distributes the post to even more of your fans, but if your fans ignore the content, Facebook deems the post uninteresting and ceases further notifications. Consequently, if a high percentage of your fans are inactive users, their ambivalence is actually causing your Facebook posts to stop short of the fans who actually do care.

Plus, Like Gating offers an alternative to purchasing Facebook advertising and exposure, which doesn’t increase Facebook’s profits and therefore doesn’t impress its shareholders, which may have also contributed to its demise.

Alternatives to Like Gating

Facebook would love for you to buy advertising and exposure now that Like Gating isn’t an option, but first consider the other more cost-effective alternatives:

Although you can’t mandate users like your Facebook page in exchange for an incentive anymore, you can still require them to join your mailing list in order to access the incentive. Email opt-in forms can be added to your page in the form of an app or page tab. This tactic doesn’t improve your Facebook fan base numbers, but it does aid your overall marketing strategy.

If increasing Facebook fans is important to you, offer to donate to a charity a specified amount of money for every like received. Be sure to include the necessary fine print and legal text on a page tab, but supporting a noble cause can do wonders for public relations as well. You can always set a defined time period upfront for the charity campaign, or you can end it once you’ve hit your goal. Congratulate your fans with a Facebook announcement of how many funds were raised, and of course, don’t forget to make the actual donation.

Finally, don’t underestimate the power of simply requesting fans to like your page. You can create a page tab explaining the benefits of liking your page, such as being notified of company and product updates and showing your support of the company. Then periodically make a post directing users to that page so they can discover the benefits of liking your Facebook page.

In social media, the only certainty is that there is no certainty about any rules, design or feature. It’s simply our job to adapt and to continue engaging our customers.

Simon Slade is CEO and co-founder of Affilorama, an affiliate marketing training portal with 230,000 members and over 100 free video lessons; SaleHoo, an online wholesale directory of over 8,000 prescreened suppliers; and their parent company Doubledot Media Limited, which provides additional e-commerce products and resources.