Yesterday was the last day marketers could trade Facebook likes for content or contest entries.
Facebook has ended the practice known as “like-gating” to make sure people “like pages because they want to connect and hear from the businesses, not because of artificial incentives,” Harshdeep Singh, a software engineer at Facebook, wrote in an August blog post. As of today, content previously hidden to those who haven’t liked a specific page is now visible to everyone.
“[Likes] once represented organically addressable audiences and brands did everything they could to capture them,” says Marko Muellner, digital vice president and group director at Edelman. “That’s all ancient history. As most brands have seen their organic reach fall below 5 percent a post, and the reality that the quality of that audience is suspect, they’ve been forced to completely rethink the importance of likes in their Facebook marketing strategy.”
For Jasmine Sandler, founder and chief executive (CEO) of Agent-cy, the end of like-gating puts the onus on brands to engage consumers in a less superficial way.
“Agencies will need to think in a way that is organic to drive engagement,” she says. “This is about being real to your audience.
“Social media is meant for real relationship development,” Sandler continues. “It is analogous to the over-sale at retail not working, whereas educating the consumer, even providing free trials or test drives, has a much higher percentage of making the cut.”
Muellner agrees that working to earn likes naturally, by publishing great content and amplifying the posts that generate traction, is the way to go.
“Even if you can aggregate a significant amount of quality likes, you’ll need to pay to reach them. Save yourself time and pay to reach them from the beginning,” Muellner says. “The end of like-gate isn’t surprising, nor should marketers be upset. Facebook is the world’s most targeted mobile advertising platform first, and a great place to gain earned lift second.”
As it prepares for a 2017 IPO that could be the largest in the social media space since Facebook went public in 2012, all eyes are on Snapchat.
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