Two cents blog

A Game of Likes: Facebook Closes The Gate on ‘Forces Likes’

by Jona Peck on 11 August 2014

We’ve all seen it. Facebook pages, from Starbucks to ‘Stan’s Auto Repair’, holding competitions in a bid to attract fans to their page. Hey, some of us even enter these promotions on a regular basis – I have personally won a bottle of good scotch by simply ‘liking’ Drambuie’s page and entering a a few witty words into their competition. However, all of this may soon change.

On the weekend, Facebook announced a number of changes to their API which will, in effect, make it technically impossible for developers to create a like-gate mechanism for third-party applications. Like-gating is, simply, a barrier requiring users to like a brand’s page before they can access certain content from that brand on Facebook.

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Apart from the technical restrictions Facebook announced on the weekend, it was also stated that effective as of November 5, Facebook will forbid this requirement entirely. So there’s no getting around the API change, even if you have the ‘technical means’ to do so. One of the main reasons Facebook is using to support its decision is:

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.

In truth, this statement does make a lot of sense. It could definitely be argued that users who like a certain page because they are genuinely interested in the brand, the product or the service (and not because the “have” to) will definitely be more likely to later engage with the page. It’s the old ‘quality over quantity’ argument and in truth, I do agree with the fundamentals here. What I do not agree with, however, is the ever-decreasing organic reach of page posts. Hopefully from 5th November, Facebook will start rewarding Pages and their ‘quality fans’ by actually showing the content they want to see in the Newsfeed.

To date, like-gating has primarily affected desktop users only, so this change is by no means the end of the world. That said, like-gated promotions have certainly helped to provide a strong initial campaign push for a number of business pages I have managed in the past.

In this fast-paced, ever-changing world of social platforms, changes like these are what we digital marketers thrive on. We’ll certainly be keeping our eyes open to how some of the big social players react to the new policies.

What do you think about Facebook’s changes to like-gating? Let us know in the comments below!

Jona Peck is a Digital and Content Specialist at BCM

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