Is Like-Gating content a good idea?

Published on August 02, 2011 under Marketing, Business, Social Media


Since the movement of brands using Facebook Pages began, the key goal for most has and still is to build a fan base. To get more people to press the almighty "like" button so they can further your connection with them on the social media empire.

Back in part 2 of the series on promoting your brand with Facebook, I mentioned a fairly new tactic many use called "Like-Gating". It's the process of setting up a system where one must press the "Like" button in order to see an end result you offered to them. There has been debate over how ethical and effective Like-Gating is, but I think it can be useful in the short-term.

The Methodology

The first time I ever experienced a Like-Gate was when I wanted to see a trailer for a new movie. The studio decided to put the barrier up simply to get people to "like" the movie in order to see the trailer. At the time I was in my usual thinking of not wanting sign my name to anything, even Facebook. I'm probably one of the few folks who won't use their Facebook profile as an openID even.

After that incident, I saw more occasions when Like-Gating would come into play. Some brands would hold contests where they would require all those wanting to enter to "Like" them on Facebook. Others would write articles on blogs, and then set up Like-Gates in order to read the whole story. In the end, I noticed that those particular "Likes" would spread the article around, as opposed to the general brand of the site.

Criticism of Like-gating

There have been many critics out there who state how much they think Like-Gating is a form of cheating. A sense that you're bloating the appearance of a strong brand when it might not be so strong at all. So some company might be able to get 1000 new fans by Like-Gating a funny video they posted, but it really says nothing about if that 1000 people really like the brand at all.

I agree with that, but I also point out how easily one can "unlike" a Facebook page now as fast as they liked it. Taco Bell is a prime example of this. They offered a free taco to anyone who "likes" their brand on Facebook. The user would receive a coupon for a free taco when they pressed the Like button. So they managed to gain 250,000 new fans from this, but the question still stands on how many people took the coupon and then "unliked" Taco Bell? The issue of trying to buy "likes" can backfire on a company if they don't have a strong campaign to back up the promotion.

Another big criticism and concern from many experts is how far would this go? Will we suddenly see Like-Gates erected all over the place as a means to force people to "Like" brands and spread articles in order to see content? I don't think so. You still need to have something of real value to offer to earn that "like". In the case of the movie trailer, I chose not to "like" it, and instead found the video on YouTube. A news site or video site could force people to "like" them in order to see content, but overkill will ruin your efforts over helping them.

Why you might want to try it

To me, the key to making a Like-Gate really work is to use it simply as a short-term means to spread your brand. Like-Gates on content as a means to spread links to the content are a smart way to push perhaps a really important piece of content and get people to spread the word. In this case, the user isn't being forced to like your brand, but more being forced to share the link on Facebook.

I don't think something like the Taco Bell push is a bad thing either. Sometimes a giveaway in exchange for a "like" is a great method to build up a fan base. It's similar to when people would ask for email addresses in the past. Maybe you're just giving out a piece of music, a video, or an actual material item. You might as well get something for it. If the consumer thinks it's worth the "like" then they'll press the button.

There are three things you should bear in mind when you're thinking of using a Like-Gate to push yourself. First off, do you want "likes" on your brand? Or a link to a piece of content spread all over Facebook? One might wonder why someone would choose to spread a link over just becoming a fan, but if your marketing strategy is more about leading people off Facebook to your website, then this is the way to go. If your goal instead is to collect Facebook fans to connect with, then you want them to end up liking your brand.

This leads to the second consideration. How much and how often should you use Like-Gating? It's poor marketing to suddenly put a Like-Gate on every piece of content you have. Can you imagine if a site like Huffington Post did that? How many readers would they keep? How about if Toshiba did this in order to look at their items? Would you want to buy a Toshiba then? Or head to a competitor? The secret of making a Like-Gate really work is to use it in a short-run promotion, then get rid of it. Get your "likes" and get off it. Anything more will only hurt your bottom line.

Finally, the biggest consideration to have in mind is what do you do when you get those "likes"? What's your plan for these new fans when you get them? It's just as easy to "unlike" a page as it was to "like" them, so Taco Bell's success might be meaningless if one week later that 250,000 new fans ends up being 249,900 people "unliking" the page.

I wrote a whole article on this, and would suggest you read it. Gaining fans is only part of the job. Keeping them is the bigger task. Make sure you have offers, content, and other forms of value for those fans so they will stay. Engage them and offer them value for their "like" so they will not only listen to your message, but perhaps spread your brand on their own accord.

If you want to know how to make a Like-Gate, search Google, as there's loads of ways to pull it off.

Have you ever tried Like-Gating? How were your results? Would you consider trying it?

Tags: facebook, like-gate, promotion, marketing, social media

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