Facebook Like-Gating 2014

Posted on Nov 04, 2014

Tomorrow is the big day for Facebook changes. Starting tomorrow, Facebook will completely eliminate Like-gating from Facebook. Facebook announced it’s plan to eliminate Like-gating in early August and put everyone on notice with 90 days to clean up their apps.

What Does Like-Gating Mean?

Since the beginning of Facebook for businesses and brands, one of the primary tactics to increase the number of likes for a company or brand’s Facebook page was to encourage more likes by providing incentives or social plugins through an API feature. With the changes tomorrow, you must not incentivize people to use Social Plugins or to like a Page including offering rewards, or apps or app content based on whether or not a person has like a page.

What Is Changing?

Facebook announced many changes at f8 2014 including a new version of the Graph API v2.0. With that announcement came the news that moving forward all primary updates would be through new API versions. The key update to Like-Gating was made as follows:

The liked field will no longer be returned in the page property of the signed_request object for Page Tab apps created from August onwards. For apps created before today, from November 5, 2014 (90 days from date of announcement), the liked property will always return true regardless of whether or not the person has liked the page.

In addition to the changes in the API mentioned above, there are also changes to Facebook’s Platform Policy which impact developers and require updates to any apps to ensure compliance with the new policies:

  • Games which include mandatory or optional in-app charges must now disclose this in their app’s description, either on Facebook or other platforms it supports. This is to give people a clear indication that your game may charge people during gameplay.
  • 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 log in to your app, check in 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.

In addition to this update, after November 5, 2014 (90 days after the announcement), the Recommendations bar will no longer render on any website either. The primary purpose of the Recommendations bar lets people “like” content, get recommendations and share what they’re reading with their friends. Facebook has deprecated the plugin and recommends to remove it before tomorrow, November 5th, 2014. To remove this from your site, remove the fb:recommendations-bar/ XFBML tag on your pages at the earliest opportunity.

Facebook’s Logic Behind The Elimination of Like-Gating

Many have not been happy about the changes that are coming as many business models and apps are tied to this functionality and have invested time, effort and money and are surprised to have Facebook making significant changes. Others have argued that this is simply Facebook’s attempt to migrate even more businesses to paid Facebook Ads. Facebook claims that this is to improve the quality of fans, reduce the number of fake fans, and to increase genuine fan engagement. Many businesses have experienced frustration with junk fans and it has led some businesses to leave Facebook.

Moving forward, elimination of Like-gating is not simply something Facebook might catch you doing, but a function that won’t exist at all based on the changes that have been made at the technical level to Facebook’s API.

Impact on Companies, Brands and Marketers on Facebook

Over the past few years, if you manage a Facebook page and wanted to run a Like-gated campaign on Facebook, this was allowed, but had to be run through a third-party app or by installing a Page tab. Through the use of a third-party app of this nature, Facebook’s API would allow the third-party app to determine whether or not a Facebook user had Like the page related to the campaign. If you were a Facebook user and you had not liked the page, the third-party app was often set up to hide specific campaign content until you liked the page. The result? Increased likes on Facebook pages. Facebook has now changed its policies and stance on this approach and states that this is basically diluting the fan base of many pages. Starting tomorrow, Facebook will no longer allow the third-party apps to determine if a user has liked a page or not, and will no longer be able to hide campaign content from those users.

Given the dual impact of the policy and the technical change, it leaves many brands and developers on Facebook at a loss to launch their campaigns and at a critical time for many retailers gearing up for ecommerce campaigns, Cyber Monday and Black Friday contests that would have been created through a third-party app.

What To Do

The most important question if you are a business owner, a page manager, or a marketer is: what do I need to do to make sure my company and our page is in compliance? Do I need to take any specific action or is it okay to not change anything that I am currently doing with my Facebook page?

The API changes only affect campaigns that are currently active and using Like-gated campaigns. If you are not actively running a campaign that is using Facebook Like-gating, then at this point, no action is required.

If you do have active campaigns with Like-gating running, then you should set aside time to remove these campaigns before the end of the day. What happens if you don’t get around to removing those campaigns today? It won’t break at midnight, but any copy on your campaigns that state: “Like our page to get this!” will not reflect what is actually going to occur for Facebook users and it could negatively impact their experience. Once the change is made by Facebook, there is no restricted content in your old Like-gated campaigns. In other words, it will be a free for all for content and all content you’ve designaed through third-part apps is up for grabs regardless if Facebook users have liked your page or not.

Upset About Losing the Like-gate?

Let’s be honest about the point of your Facebook page. Brutally honest. Is the intention to create a tally of how many people raise their hand and “like” you or your business? Or, is the goal to create a forum to share content with your most loyal customers and fans and establish a two-way communication channel to enhance your business and improve their experience? If your response was to option number 2, then you should be excited about the improvements as this will give you new opportunities to encourage and increase engagement of your real fans, not fake ones or those that are only liking your page to get something and have never been back. This may mean that there are fewer Likes on your Facebook Page going forward, but remember, even for Facebook marketing, quality over quantity is a good principle to keep in mind. Lastly, rest assured knowing that the people that like your page actually likes your company or brand.

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