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Advertising, Marketing & Promotions Alert >> Facebook Bans “Like-Gated” Promotions, and Marketers May Not “Like” It

October 16, 2014

In a significant change from its existing policy, effective November 5, 2014, Facebook will no longer permit the common social media advertising tool of “like-gated” promotions. “Like-gating” requires that consumers “like” a brand’s Facebook page to enter a contest or sweepstakes, to gain access to a deal or a coupon code, to obtain early access to merchandise, to download or view app content, or to get other savings.

What Will Change
Facebook’s announcement, in its Platform Policies, was quite straightforward. It stated, “Effective November 5th, 2014, you may no longer incentivize people to like your app’s Page [(the brand’s Facebook page)].” In a blog post, Facebook explained the development in somewhat more detail: 

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.

Facebook’s Rationale 
Facebook’s personnel have indicated in interviews that incentivized likes are poor indicators of consumer engagement and bad for user experience on the platform. Given that the Facebook display algorithm has already deprioritized likes in favor of engagement, this change should not surprise marketers, and may actually lead to better return on investment (ROI) on Facebook advertising, and increases in engagement among “likers” of brands’ Facebook pages.

What the Change Means
As a practical matter, like-gated promotions that commence or extend beyond November 4th must comply with the new Facebook policy. 

There is much, however, that the new policy does not change. Thus, marketers still can use: 

  • Apps;
  • App logins (note that any information retrieved via an app should be relevant to the reason for using the app, and that Facebook is implementing a “login review” that verifies whether any information beyond the basic categories of public profile, friends list and email address is appropriate);
  • Check-ins (in which an advertiser informs a Facebook user that the user “checked in” at a particular place and is entitled to a particular benefit); and
  • Page contests, and can publicize promotions on a Facebook page. 

Moreover, marketers can continue to request that people “like” a page – only like-gating has been barred.

The policy change is likely to accelerate the change from like-gating to “action-gating” (where users must take some specific action before entering a Facebook contest), though marketers should still be careful to comply with Facebook’s existing usage guidelines.  Nonetheless, action-gating should lead to increased consumer engagement, and marketers using the proper login techniques can gather email addresses of consumers and additional feedback via engagement. Campaigns may become more unified, with social media, email, and other efforts bringing consumers to one page where they can enter the contest or promotion.  The number of entrants may be lower than with like-gating, but the quality of the entrants may be higher.  Of course, to the extent that companies simply want more “likes,” marketers will have to rely on methods other than “like-gating” to obtain them.

Bottom Line

“Like-gated” Facebook promotions had their run, but their time has passed for a few compelling reasons. The Facebook policy change is another reminder that companies should know a social media platform’s terms and conditions – and should be aware of changes to those rules – before running a social media promotion.