By November 5th, 2014 it will no longer be technically possible to use a “fan gate” or “like gate” on a Facebook application.
What was a fan gate?
It was a gate to access an application on a Facebook page. In practice, users were forced to like a page to enter an app, e.g. a contest. It was generally displayed as an image with the following kind of message: Like our page to participate. The image would disappear once the like had been recorded. It was an efficient way to quickly and massively grow your fan base.
Why this is not possible anymore ? Technically, creators of Facebook applications (such as Qualifio) can’t identify anymore whether someone already likes a page or not. Facebook’s goal is to focus on quality content.
Is it an issue? Not really as it doesn’t make sense anymore to force someone to like a page. The race of likes at any price on Facebook has reached its limits leading media and brands to review their Facebook strategy.
Having tons of likes is interesting for your brand credibility but this is not sufficient.
You should see Facebook as a tool to nurture your sales funnel with new leads, in order for them to be included in your global marketing reach which isn’t limited to social networks.
The organic reach on Facebook still drops off, and if statistics might be divergent, you need to bear in mind that your publications are exposed to only (a small) part of your fans!
“You don’t have an impact on who will organically see your Facebook posts”.
It’s time to go a step further and be creative to qualify your fans: you need to grab their data in order to target your messages. It means you need to identify their first and last names, e-mails, birthdate, interests, opt-in etc. in your database in order to continue the conversation with your leads on other channels by sending them highly targeted information.
It requires the creation of quality content. If your content is of good quality then your followers might be more likely to share part of their personal data in return.
This quality content can and should take different forms : you should mix the options you have and activate them in a relevant way depending on your target (targeted emailing, Facebook ads, content on your website, etc.). You should split the amount of content available with or without identification.
This content can be offered through games, contests, white papers, blog posts, vidéos, infographics, polls, surveys, etc.
Let’s take the example of a bank aimed primarily at 25-33 year olds for their first home loan. This life stage is full of questions; an ebook containing a summary of the legal obligations, home loan calculator, giving tips and tricks while centralising the information in a qualitative and succinct way would certainly be very successful. You should attach a call-to-action aimed at reaching a clear goal : an appointment with a counsellor, a personalised home loan calculation, a subscription to a newsletter related to young people and real property, etc. This ebook would only be available after the completion of a form or Facebook connect that would give you some accurate data in order to maintain and build a long term relationship with them.
Introducing the soft gate.
It is important to realise that even if fan gates are now banned on Facebook, incentives to like pages still exist. Qualifio has hence developed a ‘soft gate’ to replace fan gates in all of its applications: a message inviting people to like your page with the opportunity to continue and access to your application without doing it. With this soft gate, you respect your visitors while having the opportunity to customise the message encouraging them to like your page.
Mobile friendly and available on all channels.
This soft gate is available on mobile and all available channels (Website, minisite, Facebook page): you can now encourage people to like your Facebook page directly from you website, something that was not possible before.
In short, the end of the like gate is an opportunity to develop your global Facebook strategy. Several companies successfully passed the milestone but some still have to update their strategy with 3 key factors in mind: segmentation, identification and qualitative content.