Facebook quietly announced on their developer blog that “like gates” will no longer be permitted, specifically stating
You must not incentivize people to use social plugins or to like a Page.
So what does this mean for bloggers? I’ll discuss the two major ways it will impact you and then share what we are going to do as a result.
First let me review what a like gate is (also known as a fan gate). A common and effective tactic to increase likes is to offer an incentive, such as a free eBook, to people that have liked the Facebook page. You’ve probably seen this yourself…we use a like gate on my wife’s 100 Days of Real Food page, and I explained the details in my article How to Get More Likes on Facebook.
As a result of Facebooks update, after November 5th, 2014 the like gate will no longer be effective. Anyone will be able to access the incentive, regardless of whether they have liked the page or not. Facebook lays out the details here
The liked field will no longer be returned in the page property of the signed_request object for Page Tab apps created from today onwards. For apps created before today, from November 5, 2014 (90 days from today), the liked property will always return true regardless of whether or not the person has liked the page.
We get around 300 downloads a day of Lisa’s meal plan incentive and have had 117,000 people download it since I started tracking it last November. Obviously this change is unwelcome news for us!
This change will also affect bloggers that use Facebook likes as a method to enter a giveaway. Rafflecopter just published an in depth post on the their blog yesterday, and you should definitely give it a read. Basically two features will be removed: fangating and liking to enter.
What We’re Doing
This is yet another example of why you can’t build your house on rented land. Obviously we’ll have to remove the like gate and update the corresponding promotional page for my wife’s site, but not until November 4th. 🙂 In terms of strategy, we are focusing more on building our email list as opposed to Facebook because no one can take that list away. It remains the most reliable way to reach your followers.
Now this doesn’t mean we are abandoning Facebook. In fact, I’ve recently seen the fist glimmer of hope that there may be some methods that actually work to increase organic reach. I plan to write a post on it soon, so stay tuned. Regardless, it is smart to build your email list.
You can use the same “like gate” concept that worked for Facebook and apply it to email subscriptions instead. We’ve had an email incentive in place on my wife’s blog for years, and we see about 6k new subscribers per month. It works. We’re at 157k subscribers now (down from 172k…I just cleaned out inactive subscribers). If you want a free real food meal plan, go ahead and click on the image below to subscribe.
I could write an entire eBook about email, but here are some basic tips:
- Use a professional email service, like MailChimp, to make sure your emails actually get delivered (not to mention all the bells and whistles you’ll need as your list grows). You can get a free starter account here, good for up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails per month.
- Create a useful incentive for people to subscribe to your email page.
- Create effective sign up forms.
- You can ask that people like your Facebook page in the new subscriber welcome email.
- Create an email drip campaign (we still haven’t done this yet!).
- Stay in touch with your email subscribers regularly so your list doesn’t go stale.
Walking the Walk
You may be thinking, “Well Jason, if email incentives are so great, where is yours?” Busted! I’m working on it (seriously). This week I outlined and wrote the first 3 chapters of an eBook covering “The Top 7 Mistakes Beginner Bloggers Make – and How to Fix Them”. Here’s a sneak peak.
I also want to have really effective sign up forms, so I’m going to look into using OptimizePress (I own it but haven’t played with it much) and OptinMonster (exit intent looks interesting). In the mean time, if you want to make sure you get a free copy of my eBook go ahead and subscribe to my email list. I’m going to send it out to all existing subscribers when I finish. (8/18/14 update: the eBook is done!)
So what do you think about this Facebook change? What are you going to do? Let me know in the comments.