Does Facebook Fan-Gating Hurt Facebook Engagement?

social media viewpointsFan-gating or Like-gating is the practice of displaying certain content only to users who Like your Facebook page.

It’s an increasingly common practice and something I discuss with clients almost daily. But is it a good idea?

What is Fan-Gating?

Fan-gating is accomplished by creating two versions of a tab on your page—one that’s shown to users who already Like your page and one to those who have not Liked the page.

The non-fans are encouraged to Like in order to “unlock” the content behind the tab. Because information about whether a user has Liked your page is easily accessible through Facebook’s Graph API, it is relatively easy to implement a gate, or “reveal tab” as it is sometimes called. There are many companies that provide tools to do this and a list of some of them can be found here.

The reason to fan-gate is fairly obvious: to increase the number of Likes by making it a requirement to access something that is presumably desirable to your fans. This could mean access to download a white paper, receive a coupon or participate in a contest.

However, this begs the question of the value of a required Like. Should this individual be considered a true fan? Is he or she likely to remain engaged with your brand after accessing whatever content you have gated?

pepsi

In this example of fan-gating, users must Like the page to learn more about the new TV show, "The X Factor."

All Likes May Not Be Created Equal

Various sources have put forth estimates for the value of a Like, ranging from $3.60 (Vitrue) to $136.38 (Syncapse). But I think most people would agree that just as in the offline world, different customers have different lifetime values.

Common sense would dictate that people who choose to Like your page on their own rather than being required to do so may have a greater affinity toward your brand. That isn’t to say that someone who Likes your page for the purpose of receiving a promotional offer won’t become a valuable fan.

The key is what you do to build a relationship with new fans after they have Liked your page. If you have provided access to something truly valuable, that person very well may stay engaged. But as soon as your posts begin appearing in the user’s news feed, if you aren’t continuing to share something relevant, he or she may quickly tune you out, hide your posts or even un-Like your page.

Liking “in real life”

It is difficult to find a true comparison to a fan-gate in the offline world. The closest thing might be a membership rewards program that provides access to special offers. But while enrollment in a loyalty program may provide certain perks, it is rarely a requirement to access basic information or services.

Imagine if you had to join a frequent-flyer program in order to get access to in-flight entertainment. Would you do it? If it was as easy as the click of a (Like) button, you probably would.

Taking some sort of equivalent action to the Like button in the offline context inherently has more friction. There is no way for companies to get consumers to opt-in to receive communications and indicate their support for a brand publicly in one easy step. That is what makes the Like button so powerful, but also so ripe for potential overuse.

The risks of required liking

One concern I have with the overuse of gated content is that it will ultimately reduce the value of a fan.

Others have written about the idea of “Like fatigue“—the idea that people will get tired of constantly being asked to click a Like button and may eventually stop. But I think a bigger concern is that users will keep on clicking until the click becomes meaningless. Once everyone has Liked just about everything, you will have greatly devalued the currency of the Like.

If your goal is simply to generate more fans for your page in the short-term, perhaps this concern may seem too distant to worry about. However, there are other risks to consider: The biggest is that Facebook is increasingly relying on data about how users interact with content to determine what gets visibility in the news feed. So if you have a large number of people who hide or block your posts it may have the effect of reducing your exposure to others.

Facebook is currently applying this filtering to apps that publish stories and it’s not hard to imagine them applying it to pages as well in the overall EdgeRank algorithm. This is a real concern if you have added lots of fans through required Liking but failed to nurture the relationships.

OK, But You Still Want Likes

Maybe you’ve decided that you aren’t going to require users to Like your page, but that doesn’t mean you don’t want them to Like it.

The act of Liking is easy, but sometimes people need a little encouragement. I appreciate how Mari Smith and Coca-Cola approach this on their pages. Each encourages people to Like but it is not a requirement.

coke

On the surface, this may look similar to the fan-gating example above, but in this case, the content areas are all clickable without having to Like the page first.

I work with clients who run promotions on Facebook and many debate whether to fan-gate the promotional application. I always encourage clients to think about the trade-off of having people access a promotion and interact with the brand versus potentially discouraging people by putting it behind a fan-gate.

While it is impossible to do a controlled experiment to assess the impact of fan-gating, we do have data to support the argument that if you offer a fun and engaging experience, many people will Like your page on their own.

We recently ran a promotion on the Newfoundland & Labrador Tourism Facebook page where they gave away a free flight every half hour for an entire day. Participants were not required to Like, but Like buttons for both Newfoundland Tourism and WestJet (the promotion’s sponsor) were included prominently.

The result? 80% of people who entered the promotion Liked the Newfoundland Tourism page. In addition, 30% of the participants also Liked the WestJet page.

new foundland

On the entry form above, users had the option to Like both pages when submitting their entry.

In another example, Social Media Examiner’s Mike Stelzner ran a contest to support the release of his book Launch. In this case, those who wished to submit an entry were required to Like the page as part of the entry process. However, the app itself was not fan-gated and this allowed anyone to view and vote on contest entries. What we saw is that nearly 80% of voters in the contest also chose to Like the page.

sme launch

Anyone could access the contest and the prominent Like button at the top helped convert voters and casual observers into fans.

Final Thoughts

The topic of this post is likely to generate some strong feelings. For those in the business of selling the metric of Likes (to some extent I am one), this may border on heresy. My theory is not that trying to generate Likes is a bad thing, but rather that it is important to think about how you are accomplishing this goal and what it ultimately means for the relationship between organizations and those who Like them.

What do you think? I look forward to your thoughts and discussion. Please leave your comments in the box below.

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About the Author, Ben Pickering

Ben Pickering is a digital marketing executive who has worked with many of the world’s top brands. He has written and spoken extensively on the topic of social media marketing. You can follow Ben on Twitter @bpicks. Other posts by »




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  • ValerieHamer

    Right now I don’t hide anything. I’ve seen a few pages doing this but really knew little about the theory behind it – so this article is useful. Basically my opinion remains unchanged – I want people to like my page for genuine reasons. Then again I’m not a major company with a strong brand so maybe it’s different.

  • http://www.mysocialmediava.com Kathy Colaiacovo

    Thanks Ben – great opinions on reasons for why and why not… I think that sometimes the page and business may be the factor in whether fan gating is effective or not. Quality fans (or Likes) are what every page wants.Testing what works and doesn’t is a way to figure that out for each biz as well. 

    And GO Atlantic Canada! :-) 
    ~ Kathy from Nova Scotia!

  • http://twitter.com/EliotBanka Eliot Banka

    i think content, engagement and quality/value of your Likes is what is the most important and to that extent the quantity is just secondary. You better have 100 likes of those who you know quite a lot (and who are loyal fans) than 1000 likes of those who are strangers just stalked over your like page. Like needs to have a value in other way it is just a button

  • http://about.me/jkiss James Kiss

    Thanks for writing and sharing this Ben. You do present a great argument for thinking twice about “fan-gating”.  It’s something I didn’t think about but you’re very right.

  • http://twitter.com/robkaminoff Rob Kaminoff

    Important conversation, Ben!  To me, a fairly good analogy is when B2B companies require you to submit contact information in order to download a white paper.  While there is nothing wrong with such practices per se, it impacts the way people perceive the brand.  

  • http://twitter.com/textureweb Todd V. Yeadon

    It really is a toss up. I think now with people able to do drive by commenting and not required for likes, the total like count is not as important as the total interaction. Most page fans will not come to the page unless you post a link as they interact through your feeds. If you drive them there because of advertising and force them to like the page to drive numbers, it may well not be the best plan. How many of you have been to a page, liked it to see the content then never interacted with the brand again?

    Even the name of gating evokes the process for what it is – a gated community that smacks of just getting likes for numbers sake.

    Like Kathy C, I am from Nova Scotia as well and with a smaller market for some regional clients, it’s not ever going to be about the numbers – its the quality of the community.

    I try not to piss off folks who already clicked on an ad or typed in the name to find out they have to do something more. Just give me the dope already.

    Thanks again for a great article.

  • http://lighthouseinsights.in/ Prasant Naidu

    Ben you have discussed a great thing :) Like your frankness too. I think bigger brands can afford this and to an extent it is good if you are really offering something extra. However I always have believed that if people like you they will ultimately. no need to tie them but business runs on numbers. However at the eod the question will also be how well you keep those new likes engaged regularly. 
    I think we need to leave the total no of likes behind and think of finding innovative ways of talking to fans and engaging them on a regular basis. which is however a challenge too. Thanks for a lovely post :)

  • Remichele

    Another issue is, how many customers are you going to make angry with this strategy? How many people will go to a page, realize that they have to “like” the brand to see content (that they are only mildly interested in to start with), and leave because they feel “tricked?”

  • http://about.me/bpicks Ben Pickering

    Thanks for all the comments so far. I think some good points have been raised. Facebook themselves seem to be to de-emphasize numbers in favor of engagement and most of you seem to agree with that. I think we’d all agree that numbers for the sake of numbers is not a good approach. But don’t you need the fans first before you can engage them? 

    It seems like no strong proponents of the practice have emerged on this comment thread yet so many Pages utilize the practice. Is it something only favored by larger brands? Do different principles apply based on size of your fan base?

  • http://www.naomijohnsonsocialmedia.co.uk Naomi Johnson

    This was really interesting.  Personally I feel that it’s more important to offer useful content that people will want to receive regardless of whether they get a free offer on Liking your page. I am always somewhat wary of  gated pages.  I haven’t used a reveal tab on any of the pages I’ve created so far.

  • http://www.boom-online.co.uk/ Amy Fowler

    Some great points, and I like your analogy about devaluing the ‘like’ button.

    However, in regards to 80% of people liking a page when entering a competition, despite not being required to – I imagine most these people are so used to having to like a page in order to enter a competition that they did so anyway, out of fear they would not be in the running for the prize had they not done so.

  • http://twitter.com/SaraFHawkins Sara Hawkins

    Hi Ben, you mention hosting a promotion on FB. I’m sure what you meant is that a 3rd party app was used since FB Promotional Guidelines clearly prohibit using the FB platform for any part of a promotion. 

    As for fan-gating, it does have a place. I think it’s better for smaller brands/companies b/c they’re trying to improve numbers. For larger, more popular/national brands it’s actually more annoying because what they’re protecting isn’t really all that valuable to the average consumer. Do I really need to ‘Like’ Pepsi to want to know more about X-Factor? Not really! I’m sure some news agency or blog has gotten behind the gate and has written about it any way, so it’s not all that exclusive.

    Many companies gate for coupons and I admit that after a short period of time I’ll go back and ‘unlike’ the page because they don’t provide anything useful or engaging. 

  • http://about.me/bpicks Ben Pickering

    Hi Sara – When I say “we” hosted a promotion I’m referring to my company Strutta, which is a third party application provider. They prefer that I don’t self promote too much in the post but wanted to clarify. We are a Facebook Preferred Developer and fully aware of and compliant with all the guidelines.

  • http://www.kayceestudios.com KayceeStudios

    I was reading an article the other day that this practice of requiring the “like” is actually against the Facebook Terms for our pages. Does anyone know if this is really true?

  • pgc2

    This is a great article, Ben, and very relevant to my situation. I have a fan page for our main site that has n optin form for our newsletter, but it isn’t gated. I am now building a gated fan page for an educational program we offer. Once “Liked”, the fan then gets access to a video and a special report. It isn’t finished and launched yet, so we’ll see how it goes.

    Also, we are a two person educational and coaching company offering services and digital products.

  • http://about.me/bpicks Ben Pickering

    Given the content in this example a gate may make sense. But if you want your content exposed to a broader audience perhaps not. Could be worth trying it both ways to see what delivers the results you are looking for. Is it more fans or more video views? Good luck!

  • http://www.theweddingreport.com/ Shane McMurray

    Great topic. I think the practice of getting likes, follows, or people signing up for a white paper is a waste of time and resources. In late 2007 I changed my “Subscribe Only model” to “get some data for free if you sign up.” My mailing list increased to over 20k and so did my costs. But sales really remained the same. I spent a lot of time supporting free users and it turned out to be almost 80% of my cost and time.

    For me, if I have to jump through hoops to get information, then I feel its not worth it. I don’t anymore, unless I find enough value in the “free information”. I figure my customers are the same. For example, the only reason I purchased the book Launch, physical copy and kindle version, was because of the information provided on this site and the initial chapter I was able to read with no barriers.

    Last year I changed my model, If I provide information for free, then I provide with no barriers. If they like what I’m taking about or sharing, then at some point they may decide to purchase other research I provide at a cost or not. Its like a qualifying process of sorts. My costs are lower and my time is better spent working on the information that my customers are paying for.

  • http://about.me/bpicks Ben Pickering

    You cannot use a Like to enter somebody into a contest but it is ok to only expose certain content to users who Like.

  • hanne_lene

    A slight variation is to raise your Like factor for a good cause. One of the most successful campaigns I was involved with was by the Gentle Barn http://www.facebook.com/TheGentleBarn. If they raised their Likes to 100,000 by a certain date, they would be given $100,000 (I think that was the amount). The push was done by fans who shared the campaign on their personal pages. They were successful.

    Interestingly, when they announced how they were going to use their $100,000, there was some backlash from people who didn’t agree with the use of the money. I believe they did lose Likes but currently they sit at a little over 135,000 Likes. Their content is heavily commented on and the community is very involved with most postings. This lends some credence to the argument that good content will hold the LIkers beyond the initial campaign.

    I’ve seen this ‘good cause’ technique used by companies who are sponsoring a competition to give money to a charity. Usually, you have to Like the company’s fan page in order to vote for your chosen group. As previously noted, it will be about the quality of the company’s content that will keep people Liking them after the competition is over. For me, unless the company is of particular interest to me, I’ll generally unLike them unless their content is particularly interesting.

  • http://www.gadarian.com David Gadarian

    Coke versus Pepsi.  It never ends…

    Great post though.  I’ve always been inclined not to fangate – my thinking being that if you’ve worked hard enough to get a new person to come to your FB page, why on earth would you put up yet another obstacle for them to interact with you, even if it is only a perceived one.

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  • http://learnit2earnitwithlynn.com Lynn Brown

    Good article and topic for discussion Ben.  I’m glad that you looked at both sides of the fence!  As I see it, for business, it really is up to each individual persepective, goals and what they want to achieve when it comes to specifically wanting to get Facebook ‘likes’ or any social recogonition.

    I agree with many of the folks responding above about, that there are good and bad ways to use the Fan-gating.  For my business, I know when a person gives me a like, they have probably found me in other areas of social media, my blog or in meeting them in person.  So specifically it isn’t a factor for me.  But I do see the importance in some cases to utilize this technique with great results.

  • http://kendysproul-socialmediaconsultant.com Kendy Sproul

    Very thought provoking article. I especially liked your point of overuse of the “like” button. Something else to take into serious consideration when planning a social media strategy. Thanks for sharing this.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jonathan-Thompson/1348513934 Jonathan Thompson

    What a great article. I never really thought of fan-gating in this perspective before. It makes sense to encourage likes but not force them. I’d rather have 10 engaged fans than 1,000 who are not engaged. Companies should always consider how their goals affect their employees behaviors. I would say that a company should not have a goal for a certain amount of likes. Rather, conversion, shared posts, posts, etc., more thoughtful and meaningful metrics should be  measured and rewarded.

  • Joran Wamelink

    Hi Ben, great post about an even more interesting topic. 

    As Lynn Brown also stated my opinion is: “what are my clients wishes? How can I add value to their business?”. This sometimes means that I advise a fan-gate, if they need more info about their target group or want to get their e-mail address or something. On the other hand, if their goal is to engage better with their target troup just make sure you have interesting (often fun) content. When you can get their attention and leave a positive emotion they are more likely (nice pun) to Like your page and become a fan. So my opinion isn’t necessarily in favor of any on beforehand, it depends on my clients wishes.

  • Julia Hengstler

    Do you think “devaluing of the Like” is what drove the development of the “subscription” re. Facebook fanpages?

  • http://elainequinn.com Elaine Quinn

    Some things never change. Ducking, diving, dodging and weaving.

  • http://about.me/bpicks Ben Pickering

    Hi Julia – I can’t say for certain but it does seem that a number of Facebook’s recent changes are intended to take the emphasis off of the Like and focus on the creation and sharing of more engaging content.

  • http://about.me/bpicks Ben Pickering

    Hi Joran – I agree with you and Lynn. There is not a right or wrong answer but it depends on who the client is and what their objectives are. I have found that some clients just want to follow what others are doing without thinking through the specifics of their campaign and their audience. I think this is an important conversation to have with any client. Cheers!

  • http://about.me/bpicks Ben Pickering

    Thanks for the comment Lynn!

  • Michael Jenkins

    Honesty is the best policy. Engage people in a manner that respects their time by providing useful, relevant material and they will “like” you – whether they click like or not. Do we really think , because a browser clicks like to get a look at something, that the browser is engaged with the brand??

    Surely the long term value of a customer- read person – is garnered like any other human relationship – i.e. by continually nurturing the engaged. If you want short term results – big like numbers – but are not concerned about deptgh of relationship the strategy is fine but i think people are so commercially savvy they see through this light weight pretend” engagemnt’ and treat it accordingly ” your just doing this to milk me… so guess what… i view you as a commodity and dont engage”.

  • http://edgysocialmedia.com Tara Husband

    Just in the last 24  hours it looks like Facebook has changed things up again.  When I went to http://www.facebook.com/pepsi – there is no Fan Page!  Just a like button at the wall.  I went to several other sites such as http://www.facebook.com/GUCCI – I have ALWAYS loved their edgy fangatting.  Just a like button up on top.
    Now under posts there are LIKE, COMMENT, SHARE.    Times are changing.  Could this mean welcome pages are a thing of the past?

  • http://twitter.com/WilsonAudio Wilson Audio

    I have debated back and forth on this issue several times.  I can see some benefits of using “reveal tabs” for some companies, while with others it would not really serve any useful purpose.  In the case of the company I work for, I believe we fall into the latter of the 2 categories. 

    You nailed it on the head for me when you said: “people who choose to Like your page on their own rather than being
    required to do so may have a greater affinity toward your brand.”  Well said!  I believe I now have my answer! :)

    Thank you for taking the time to share this information!

    -Debby
    http://www.wilsonaudio.com

  • http://www.smallbusinessitshow.com/ Dexter Eugenio

    top article!

    though i think i come from a different angle.

    why place such an emphasis on getting added value from clicking the like button?  i think its totally acceptable and if I landed on a page where I was required to hit “like” to get some discounts, to get some details or to get some for “free” ill do it, no questions asked.  Then if i got what I was promised for doing so, i would rarely think about the process again.

    twitter isnt like facebook.  get as many followers as you can.  1000 dedicated followers or 10000 drones are still people that have liked your page and will still be exposed to your message when you update.  unfortunately SM is a numbers game and even though you may know that you have 1000 quality followers, how is a person outside of the group meant to know that?  if they see 10000 followers they probably think this group is worth the follow from the numbers alone. 

    i dont know about everyone else, but 24 hours in a day is not enough.  life is WAY too fast and way too short to decide on whether my personal facebook “like” is something sacred and should only be used for certain pages.  if a company or brand i like has a page, great, ill like it, if a company i dont know anything about, but has a compelling offer or competition to like them, fine, ill like them too.  i dont see any harm in that and i think putting so much emphasis on this complicates things.

    i mean, there are some genuine brands out there that have hardly any facebook followers yet there are groups, formed from a stupid saying, that has hundreds of thousands of members.  where’s the logic there?

    remember facebook is a “social” medium first and foremost, its meant to be fun.  it wasn’t designed in the beginning to be for business but obviously its had a huge impact on it.  there are just things that have been implemented into it that have been created from a personal and social stand point (the like button) and so to add the complexity of a “business brain” to it, i feel, is just clouding judgement.

    i think the only people that put a value to a facebook “like” are the sm marketers themselves. 

    dEx

  • http://au.linkedin.com/pub/tania-cavaiuolo/2/27b/525 Tania Cavaiuolo

    Food for thought. 

    I agree with some earlier posts that perception of gate ‘invasiveness’ may vary by brand (I’d suggest because some are cooler to have in your ‘like’ list than others – Virgin Australia v Kotex) but overall, a bit like dEx, I’m not sure I see a big problem. Liking seems to be almost habitual – and because people can just as quickly ‘unlike’ if they find the updates annoying or uninteresting – the risk of entry is low.
     
    I’m a little more concerned about the effectiveness of apps that request access to basic user info. Does anyone have data or know of a discussion around this?

  • http://twitter.com/TerriDavies Terri Davies

    The information here is well-received. I do understand what you’re saying about fan gates have the potential to dilute the quality of fans. However, I also think that many people who come to a Facebook page and are not as familiar with how you can “subscribe” by clicking the like button will be glad to have the reminder. Our demographic is business professionals who have little experience with social media, so I think a fan gate could work well. We’ve just installed a fan gate today if you want to see what it looks like: http://fb.me/SociabilityStrategies and we will have to see how it works. I welcome your comments about it. I’m certainly very open to learning and changing my strategy if it’s in the best interests of my clients.

  • http://www.thecybersafetylady.com.au/ Leonie Smith

    I use a different approach I give a surprise gift and a thankyou on my reveal landing page after they have liked based on the principle of allways under promise and give more! I suggest this to my clients it gives a great feeling of goodwill. They like without knowing they are going to get the gift.

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  • http://about.me/bpicks Ben Pickering

    Good idea Paisley. Sounds like you will be keeping your fans happy!

  • http://about.me/bpicks Ben Pickering

    Each Page admin can choose whether to set a default Tab or default to the Wall instead, however, this only applies to non-fans. Existing fans will always go straight to the Wall. 

  • http://about.me/bpicks Ben Pickering

    Dexter – I appreciate your perspective on this. My intent is not to say a consumer should spend time deciding how to allocate their Likes but rather that marketers need to think about the value they are placing in it. I think your sentiments support that point precisely. Thanks for sharing.

  • http://about.me/bpicks Ben Pickering

    Hi Tania – We run contest apps that require users to grant permission. In general there is some amount of user drop off for any app. What is surprising is that the amount of drop off doesn’t seem to vary all that much if you ask for more than basic info. I think people are becoming more accustomed to the app permission process and so long as the app is on a trusted page it doesn’t seem to present a huge concern. Facebook is currently modifying the way it handles app permissions as well to give users even more control.

  • pgc2

    I’ve been thinking about this all day! And going back and forth as I see the merits for both approaches. Now I’m thinking that, since visitors will have to optin to get the special report, maybe I should forget the fangate and just let visitors see the video then choose to optin for the report and, hopefully, “Like” the page, as well. My goal is qualified leads for a communication course and to build a tribe around the program.

    Here’s the page as it stands now with the fangate – http://www.facebook.com/paulandlayne#!/pages/Heart-to-Heart-Talks-Communication-Program/113028778777325?sk=app_136841069714275 - but the revealed page is not yet finished because the video is not quite done,  yet.

    Any thoughts?

  • Carol W.

    I don’t believe that the value of a fan is $X.XX when you can buy 100’s of fans for $5!…. 

    True engagement is about having customers who love what you do and ultimately become your biggest influencers.  I believe that first and foremost, businesses need to engage their current customers online and offline with great products, great service and competitive pricing … then they can piggy-back off their great relationships on the Facebook page.

    For new businesses or new-to-asking-for-input-businesses, it’s a bit harder because they don’t have the relationships required to have true engagement online but it still can be done.

  • http://twitter.com/SaraFHawkins Sara Hawkins

    Thanks for clarifying, Ben. I figured there was a logical explanation.

  • http://www.online-business-virtual-assistant.com/ Shilpi Roy – Virtual Assistant

    Great post. In recent days I feel Facebook is making some new changes and some I like and some I dont like.

  • http://twitter.com/conduitcomms Katie McGregor

    I have found that fangating discourages ‘Likes’. I recently sent out an
    enews  for a client which linked to event photos on the client’s
    Facebook. The Facebook was fangated with a discount coupon for a beauty
    treatment (25% off).

    From the enews reporting, I could see that
    people were clicking the link to the FB page to view the photos, but saw
    no new ‘likes’ on the FB. So I quickly changed the landing page of the
    FB to go directly to the wall without the fangate- and guess what? The
    visitors liked the page all of their own accord.

    I think there
    could have been two issues: one is that Fangates tend to load slowly so
    people can just get fed up and leave the site. The second is that if
    they are coming to a page for photos and they have to commit a like,
    they feel a sense of being cheated (as commented on above).  So while I
    like the look of fangates and I think they are fun, I have seen first
    hand that they actually discourage likes.

    Not scientific research I know but…

  • Joran Wamelink

    Ok. I can see you’re point and your wish to “teach” your client. On the other hand, if thát is the customers wish (to follow what others are doing) why not give him that? It’s not that I don’t want the best for my clients it’s just that clients need to take it one step at a time because this is all new to them. If you did a good job the first time than he or see probably come back when he or she wants more.

  • Grant Perry

    I think the best comparrison is in offering a free report for an email address, a very common practise now.  “Liking” a page is very similar to giving an email address and the free content similar to the report. That model works very well for our business. I think the key is to make the incentive (free report, content etc) relevant to your business. If it’s similar content to what they will receive regularly from your page that will encourage the types of fans you want. If it’s giving them a chance to win a free ipad or something else not directly related to your business you’ll get fans who aren’t really interested in your subject.

  • http://www.faziosjewelry.com Fazio’s Cat Jewelry

    I think this issue could be argued either way.  For the first year I never knew about fan-gating.  In that first year I averaged 250 fans per month. Three weeks ago I decided to try an app for fan-gating.  So far my likes are up 26%, but the best part is my insights are up 40%.  This could have something to do with the changes face book has made in that same time period, IDK. 

    Grant it, I don’t want fans who aren’t into the niche I am offering. This makes fan gating more of a value to me.  My gate page is like a preview of what’s inside.  If they don’t like what they see there, they won’t like my page.  I rather not get dead beat fans.  For me gating show them what my page is about and requires a little more effort to become a fan.  

  • http://about.me/bpicks Ben Pickering

    Joran – Our company, Strutta, offers applications that allow fan gating. Our clients always have the option of doing what they like. There are a number of decision points that we get asked about, fan-gating being one, and I always emphasize that they need to decide what is right for them. I’m merely introducing an idea here for discussion and not trying to prescribe what is right or wrong. Thanks again for the comments.

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  • pgc2

    I’ve been thinking about this a lot! And going back and forth as I see the merits for both approaches. Now I’m thinking that, since visitors will have to optin to get the special report, maybe I should forget the fangate and just let visitors see the video then choose to optin for the report and, hopefully, “Like” the page, as well. My goal is qualified leads for a communication course and to build a tribe around the program.

    Here’s the page as it stands now with the fangate – http://www.facebook.com/paulan… – but the revealed page is not yet finished because the video is not quite done, yet.

    Any thoughts?     

  • Danny

    Likes aren’t always easy to interpret when it comes to contests, vouchers and other incentivised offerings. Non-gated Likes aren’t necessarily any more sincere. A lot of people will Like a page after interacting with a contest simply because it’s an easy way to keep track of the page and check on their progress. 
    Sure, not all Likes represent genuine leads but for both brand and direct response campaigns I prefer to build numbers first then do the sifting. The Likes matter but until you have enough of them I’m not sure the motives behind them are worth too much soul searching. 

  • http://5150design.net Mj

    Personally, I find reveal tabs offensive. So much so that I will leave a page and never return if they require my approval to gain access to their content. There are several reasons why I feel this way; the following are just a few:

    1) How can I formulate an opinion on something I have yet to see? What if I ‘like’ your page and then find that I don’t really like it? 

    2) I believe it is wholly unethical for individuals to ‘sell’ their opinions. Naturally, I find it equally unethical for companies (or individuals, for that matter) to ‘buy’ opinions. It brings the phrase ‘political lobby’ to mind. 

    3) I would like to think that the value of a ‘like’ in the future will be closely associated with the integrity of said ‘like’. Integrity. Hmmmm? Where has that quality disappeared to?

  • http://marismith.com/ Mari Smith

    Awesome article, Ben! @bpicks:disqus You rock – thank you kindly for the mention! :) 

  • http://about.me/bpicks Ben Pickering

    Thanks @MariSmith:disqus and you’re welcome! 

  • http://twitter.com/brunnamds Bruna Moraes

    Excellent article! We are in a time where everything is new and uncertain attempts with trial and error will show us the right way. If you can not afford the brand with the client to create a dummy page and review your return.

    I loved the post.

    Bruna Soulmkt –
    http://www.soulmkt.com.br/criacao-de-fan-page-facebook

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  • Joran Wamelink

    Hi Ben, let me start off with the fact that I’m not trying to convince anyone but your input got me thinking. So, thank you for that! I am merely reacting on your question of “what do you think?”. In my opinion this information is good to absorb but in the end I can only show doors to my client as to what effect certain solutions have. This being another topic about cause and effect online.

    In the end my opinion is irrelevant compared to my clients wishes because my opinion is only my choice of one possible solution from many options to a clients problem. So I think we are pretty much on the same page here and I would like to thank you for contributing to my knowledge which can be usefull when advising my clients.

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  • http://madcowan.blogspot.com/ Paul Cowan

    Hi Ben – Thanks for the Syncapse mention.  The point of our study was that brands to indeed need to understand the value of each of their fans.  Our study was the first to understand the business impact of fans, actually looking at business driver such as spend and loyalty.  But we take it one step further with our clients to segment their user base and mine data at the individual level.  This notion of “social CRM” is a loaded term, but the reality is that companies just need to treat social like they would any other relationship management program.  Who cares if your engagement is lower if you are driving incremental spend and loyalty with a very high value customer.  

  • http://about.me/bpicks Ben Pickering

    Hi Paul – Thanks for adding some color to the value of a fan research I quoted. I agree 100% that we all need to get beyond the surface level metrics and tools like Syncapse can be a great way to do that. My hope with this post was merely to get people thinking about the objectives for their fan Page and tactics used. The next step is to go deeper into “social CRM” with companies like yours.

    Cheers,

    Ben

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  • http://www.cleancutmedia.com/ Clean Cut Media

    Hey Ben,

    Just wanted to say, great article. I hadn’t thought about fan-gating in a while. For a while, it seemed like the  general consensus among the “know-its” was that fan gating was a great way to increase likes, but your article makes a lot of sense. There is definitely value in earning the like the old-fashion way, through good content and value!

    Paul

  • http://www.MorrisMatters.com/ Dwayne Morris

    It really comes down to what a company plans to do with all of their “Likes.” Are they trying to create a path for engaging with their fans or is it a self-esteem issue? Personally, I don’t like being forced to “Like” something. As a social consumer, I avoid this all-together.  Good material! Thanks for sharing.

  • http://twitter.com/#!/KimSturkenboom Kim Sturkenboom

    I really liked this article, since I’ve had a few thoughts about this myself; how can you say your fan is valuable when you ‘forced’ them into liking your page? Especially in the case of a contest I think it will be hard to say whether your Fan truly likes your page or they just like your page, because they want to win and winning requires a Like.

    I did hear Facebook is going to make some changes on this point, and that it will nog longer be possible to do Fan-Gating. Does anyone know more about this?

    Thanks!

    Kim, from The Netherlands

  • Mladen Stojanovic

    Hey Ben.

    First, love your article, it’s great.

    Second, I would like your opinion about this situation:

    If I have a free eBook, and I want to distribute it with FB, is it OK to say, hypothetically, “Look, if you want this eBook, you must like this page”?

    P.S. Requiring to LIKE before you see the content is, how I see it, the same as building your eMail list. You ask them to leave their name and eMail, so they could get the info.

    All in all, great post and a great site.

    Cheers,

    Mladen

  • http://about.me/bpicks Ben Pickering

    Yes, what you are proposing to do is fine. You can require users to Like in order to gain access to download your eBook. Cheers!

  • http://garryowen.biz Garry Owen Cardinal

    Food for thought – I for one have never used a reveal tab, thinking it is just one more obstacle from keeping people from Liking one of my client’s pages.  But I can see how it could be useful in some cases

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  • Jessica Bern

    Is there anyplace that I can find an explanation on how to use Tabs, an explanation that would cater to someone who is a “regular” person and doesn’t know computer language?  

    Thanks. 

  • Jessica Bern

    Is there anyplace that I can find an explanation on how to use Tabs, an explanation that would cater to someone who is a “regular” person and doesn’t know computer language?  

    Thanks. 

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