No More “Like Gating” and Incentivizing Users For Likes
If you have been asking people to “like” your page as a way to gain access to any content that needs to change. Who does this impact? Well, if you do things like:
- Offer “free access” to content (think ebooks, videos, members only benefits or other incentives) in exchange for a ‘like;’
- Have a sweepstakes or a contest that people have to ‘like’ your page in order to enter;
- Do giveaways that require a ‘like’ in exchange for a reward;
- Have sweepstakes of any nature where in order to enter, you’ve got to first pay to enter by way of a ‘like.’
- Have a video contest where people have to ‘like’ your page in order to be able to vote;
or if you develop campaigns for clients that use any of these tactics, this change in the rules mean big changes for you. See the trend with all these examples? A ‘like’ is akin to currency, and when it comes to staying away from trouble with state or federal laws and regulations intended to protect consumers, well, it’s about time Facebook wised up.
This news also impacts a lot of third party suppliers who routinely offer these services to brands and agencies, so it’s definitely a hot topic. Facebook intends to remove code from existing Facebook apps on November 5, 2014, so you’ve got a little time to think about this and make some changes to your marketing tactics, and for anyone building new applications for Facebook that option won’t exist at all.
What Can We Do?
Does this mean marketers can no longer ask people to ‘like’ their page using the social plugins on their websites? Absolutely not. It’s the quid pro quo ‘like’ that you need to be concerned with. The “I’ll give you something you want but first you need to ‘like’ our Facebook page” that’s a problem. The difference is that you cannot entice people to ‘like’ your page by using conditions like offering rewards, giveaways, or chance to win in a contest. So, using terms such as “Like this page for a chance to win,” “Like this page to get your coupon,” and perhaps even “Like this page in order to vote” are against the new rules.
So, now you want to know what is allowed, right? You can still incentivize people to log in to your app, check-in at a particular location, or enter a promotion on your app’s page. What you cannot do is to require them to ‘like’ your page as part of that process. Confused yet? There’s more. According to Simon Cross, Product Manager at Facebook, “you may still incentivize people to log in to your app, and you may reward someone when their friends logs into your app as the result of an invite they sent. You may not incentivize people to send the invites in the first place.” Clear as can be, right?
Bottom line, organic sharing – something like “I like this product and though you might too, so I’m sharing it with you,” sharing of stuff is cool. And the offer of an incentive if you invite someone to do something and they logged in as a result is okay, too. Like this: “I love these awesome underwear and you will, too. And if you check them out using my link and buy some, I’ll get a free pair.” What isn’t cool, at least as we interpret the foregoing, is paying someone to send a bunch of people invitations.
So let’s extrapolate that out to bloggers and your influencer campaigns. Say you want to do an influencer outreach campaign and pay bloggers to say nice things about your product and share links to your app and have them encourage their audiences to ‘like’ your page. Well, to me, that seems like it fits into the no-can-do category. They are being directly compensated to go out and drive traffic to your app, thereby “buying” likes. Am I wrong here? I’d love to know what you think.
As you’ve probably already figured out, this isn’t an easy-breezy thing and if you’re either already doing these kinds of campaigns and/or have thoughts of doing them in the future, it’s important to know the rules as established by Facebook, as well as the laws that govern your business in your state. That’s why attorneys have been involved for a long time when it comes to sweepstakes and other kinds of campaigns where giveaways and prizes and compensation are concerned. What’s legal in New York might not be legal in New Mexico and, depending on where your company is headquartered, there might be rules that apply to you that you don’t know about, but should.
Why These Changes?
Why these changes? That’s a good question. This is not a new topic, by any means. My attorney friends have been talking and writing about this for a long time and they aren’t at all surprised to see these changes. According to Facebook, the primary reason for the policy changes is to encourage and increase “quality connections and engagement” received by business pages. I imagine that they also want to protect themselves from future problems with regulators and the potential of future litigation.
What To Do Next
To make sure you’re ready for the upcoming changes, you should be updating your apps, contest terms and agreements for your upcoming campaigns since the revised policies take effect November 5, 2014. Make sure your development teams, your marketing teams and your agency teams are aware of these changes and be having conversations now about what you might need to modify or adapt anything you’re presently doing to take these changes into consideration. If you’re not sure exactly how or if this impacts you or your campaigns, we recommend you check in with our smartest of smart friends (who also happens to be an attorney who has covered this topic extensively), Sara Hawkins. You can see her most recent post on this topic here: Facebook Promotions Update – Like Gating to End November 5th
More resources on this topic:
Facebook Promotions Update – Like Gating To End November 5th – Graph API v2.1 and updated iOS and Android SDKs
Facebook Announces Platform Policy Changes, Updates to Graph API, SDKs for iOS, Android – AllFacebook