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Facebook to stop fan-gating

by Simon Jenkins | 19.08.2014
Barely a month goes by without Facebook making some sort of policy change. It’s always nice to wake up to (ironically) your Twitter feed clogged with profanities about Facebook’s latest alteration to their terms of use. Often these policy alterations are aimed at developers and only slightly impact a brand by association.

However, last week, Facebook made an announcement on their developer site that is very likely to impact agencies and brands alike. They are disallowing fan-gates on Pages. Big news. For those of you that aren’t familiar with the term fan-gating (or like-gating) it’s a process whereby new users on your business Page are required to ‘like’ the Page before entering a competition / poll / coupon (or any other application).

Whenever changes like this are made, Social Media Cynics (or SMCs for short) wrack their brains to try and understand why these variations have been made. After at least 15 seconds of intense mulling, it usually comes down to the fact that it’s an attempt to further monetise the platform. Essentially, brands can’t grow fan numbers through an application so they must spend on Page ads.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen some pretty horrendous fan-gates but often, they are more than justified. If a brand is giving away a substantial prize (a holiday / tickets to a festival / a year’s supply of….) they want to at least see an increase in their fan numbers. Human nature. Users are aware of this too. Sure, they’re on the Page (more than likely) because of the competition, but they are there. Essentially a user can now win a car from a brand despite not even liking that brand (assuming that random winner selections are in place).

I imagine we’ll see users swiftly become savvy and like the Page anyway. Much in the same way that users love to tell you when they’ve entered one of your competitions (“liked, commented and shared – hope I win”).

Don’t get me wrong, I can understand the logic behind this and dare I say it, I agree with notion behind fans liking the Page because they do like the brand. Perhaps, as I said, it’s the SMC in me that just sees dollar signs at the base of all decisions coming out of Menlo Park, CA.

These updates won’t be implemented immediately. You have until 5th November

Mark Zuckerberg recently took part in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, but I fear it failed to cool him off.