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Facebook quietly bans the like gate on contests, coupons and other rewards



Like This pageIt’s a common practice to require people to ‘like’ a Facebook page before entering a contest or claiming a coupon. It’s quid pro quo and though consumers often complain about the practice, they click anyway because they want the prize. Why they bother grumbling is beyond me since liking a branded page has little effect on what shows up in your News Feed anyway. This isn’t the “old days.”

According to a small note on the Facebook Developer Blog, this practice is about to end. Two funny things about that – I thought it used to be against the rules and why bury the announcement on a blog few Page owners read?

Let’s start with the second item first. I read the Facebook News Blog and Facebook for Business Blog everyday and neither one of them carried a hint of this change. It hit the Developer Blog on Aug 7 so perhaps it will show up on the other blogs later this week.

Here’s the important paragraph:

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.

It’s listed under Changes to Platform Policy and it comes after a page of information only developers will understand. I get that developers are the ones who create these “like gates” but it’s business owners and marketers who use them so again. . . why the quiet ban?

What’s odd is, I swear this used to be the rule back in the days where you had to have a widget from a recommended company to run a contest on Facebook. Not sure when this changed, but suddenly it was okay – or perhaps the language was so ambiguous people did it anyway. Even the above paragraph is tricky. You can’t incentivize someone to like your page in order to enter a contest, but you can incentivize them to enter the contest. Either way, you’ve captured their contact info which is what you were after in the first place.

I imagine a lot of people are crying over this new rule (or will be when they find out) but I’m glad. I’ve seen too many clients throw away thousands of dollars in prizes just to inflate their likes on a Facebook page. Guess what happens when the contest is over? The overwhelming majority either unfollow or just ignore the brand. They aren’t interested in what you’re selling, especially if the prize stands alone.

For example, offering a six month subscription to your service will only attract people who are interested in your service. Offering an iPhone or $200 Amazon gift certificate . . . now what you have are the contest pros who just want the prize.

I know it’s depressing to see less than a 1,000 likes on your Facebook page, but it’s better to have 200 people who are interested in what you’re doing than 2,000 who just signed up for the chance at a cool prize.

The policy changes goes into effect on November 5, 2014.

  • http://mysitevitals.com Larry M

    I wonder if this is also a legal issue. You know how at the end of all contest and giveaways (in very small print), they say something like “no purchase necessary”. Maybe a Like is considered an action like a purchase. Obviously no monetary exchange, but it is an action that needs to be taken.

    Interesting they are doing it very quietly.

  • http://www.brickmarketing.com/ Nick Stamoulis

    “Guess what happens when the contest is over? The overwhelming majority either unfollow or just ignore the brand.”

    Exactly. I’d rather have 100 really engaged fans than 1,000 that unlike me as soon as the content is over. Give me real connections and real engagement any day!

  • http://www.customerflowmobile.com Scott Henderson

    Perhaps it’s to do with advertisers and audience quality. If you target pages that were ‘liked’ by lots of ‘contest fanatics’ the audience will be just as poor for the advertiser as it is for the page owner.

    Would go at least some of the way to explaining poor click-through-rates on seemingly well targetted campaigns.

  • http://thatsmashedup.com Mrs. Mashed Up

    I think they are trying to get competitive with Google Plus and Reddit–which I’m not mad at. My thing is having businesses realize that Facebook Likes are NOT as important as how many people see a pages post or the interaction rates and trends of a page. As long as businesses look at bloggers as surface quantity (# of likes) verses deeper media information on it’s quality (how active the page genuine is) there is going to be an affect on the little guy. Also, they aren’t really going to be on Google Plus or Reddit’s level because you can still “buy” a lot of time through so many means on FB. So is it really genuinely about quality control?