A few months ago I came across Facebook posts from a couple of friends of mine encouraging me to like this page to win an amazing wooden playhouse bunk bed that retails for a couple of thousand bucks. The next day it was a trip to Disney World, all expenses paid plus a special meet your favorite character. And all you had to do to enter is to like the Facebook Page.
So I checked it out, my daughters would love to have a playhouse bed!
But the page was created only days before, hardly had any posts, and yet it had more than 17,000 likes! Obviously they were completely spam and I doubt they ever will send out a single prize...
Fan-Gating As A Magic Bullet To Gather Facebook Fans Fast
Offering a reward in return for becoming a fan or allowing access to a promotion, eBook download or content only after liking the page is called like-gating or fan-gating.
For example, if you have used Rafflecopter in the past to run a giveaway on your blog and given additional entries to win if they become a fan of your Facebook Page, you have been fan-gating.
And effective as of November 5th, 2014, Facebook will not allow pages to fan- or like-gate.
The official announcement from August 7th, 2014 reads as follows: "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, check in at a place or enter a promotion on your app’s Page."
Before you panic, think about the implications.
Do you rather have 4563 fans that became a fan of your page to enter a contest or would you rather have 345 fans that are really interested in what you have to say and they comment, share and like your posts?
Facebook states: “we want people to like Pages because they want to connect and hear from the business, not because of artificial incentives.” So the net worth of a new fan should be more without fan-gating. It is all about quality over quantity.
Now, this is a lot to digest! But wait there is more.
Click Baiting & Sharing Links
About 3 weeks later, on August 25th, 2014, Facebook announced changes to its news feed algorithm to ban click baiting and change how people share links.
According to the official statement “Click-baiting is when a publisher posts a link with a headline that encourages people to click to see more, without telling them much information about what they will see."
In the past, the stories that received a lot of clicks were deemed popular and pushed up in people's streams. Posts like these tend to get a lot of clicks, which means that these posts get shown to more people and get shown higher up in News Feed.
According to a Facebook survey, "80% of the time people preferred headlines that helped them decide if they wanted to read the full article before they had to click through."
Going forward, the news feed algorithm will take into consideration how useful the article was to the person who clicked on the click bait link based on how long they stayed as well as how many people interacted with it (share, commented and liked) compared to how many just clicked.
Sharing links in posts
There are several ways to share links on Facebook: in link format (link in this image), as part of a photo caption or as part of a status update.
Since people prefer to click on links that are display enough information for them to determine if the article is worth clicking on, such as the beginning of the article (or the meta description), Facebook will now "prioritize showing links in the link format, and show fewer links shared in captions or status updates".
Facebook’s Motivations & Implications For Your Facebook Marketing
User Engagement vs. Fan Count
Facebook's currency is user engagement and this only happens if a page grows organically if a fan has a genuine interest and desire to engage with your brand. This change will probably slow your Facebook page growth if you have been fan-gating before, but those who do like your page will do so for the right reasons.
Focus on Relevant Content
There are anywhere between 1,500 - 2,000 stories in your Facebook feed every day. Facebook's algorithm filters out what it deems to be most relevant to you and updates from a page that you only liked to win something will probably not prompt tons of engagement.
And, of course, if Facebook takes away the possibility to incentivize non-fans to like your page, marketers turn to Facebook ads to grow their user numbers.
Use The Link Format
Make sure to use the link format in the future when posting links on Facebook by manually posting the links into your update and letting Facebook pull up the link information. Add your own text and hit publish.