3 Best Practices for Like-Gating Your Facebook Fan Page

Social Media Week

Social Media Week is a leading news platform and worldwide conference that curates and shares the best ideas and insights into social media and technology's impact on business, society, and culture.

One of the many gripes about Facebook “like-gating” (i.e. requiring someone to like your Facebook page in order to see certain content) is that it’s considered the social media equivalent to link baiting. For many brands, this is exactly the case. But only offering up a one-time coupon or badass sweepstakes prize isn’t doing your brand any favors in the long run.

When Taco Bell offered up free tacos under its like-gate back in February, how much did the brand really benefit? Taco Bell gained 250,000 new fans, but it also had to shell out $.99 to $1.09 per taco. If only 30 percent activated the coupon, that’s a potential loss of $81,750. But here’s where it starts to add up. In addition to hard costs, consider the staffing and technology resources Taco Bell used to fulfill this campaign. And out of all Taco Bells’ new fans, how many were repeat customers?

Establishing long-lasting relationships with your brand’s Facebook community should be the ultimate goal. Why waste time and resources on a like-gating campaign if the costs don’t outweigh the benefits? Below are three best practices for like-gating your fan page without wasting your time or looking like an e-marketing asshole.

1) Avoid gimmicks. Stay true to your brand.

Like-gating shouldn’t just be about the numbers; it should be about engagement. You want to grab the attention of Facebook users who are truly interested in your brand and what it has to offer. This will pay off when your like-gating campaign is over. According to a study by ExactTarget and CoTweet, 26 percent of Facebook users said they only liked a company to take advantage of a one-time offer. To avoid this drop-off, consider offering up something that’s unique to your company. When the New Yorker like-gated its Facebook page, the magazine engaged readers with a special 12,000-word piece by frequent contributor Jonathan Franzen. According to Poynter’s Damon Kiesow, “the Franzen story was chosen because it represents the type of writing The New Yorker is known for. It is therefore likely to attract readers who will be interested in the magazine long-term.” Even if your campaign only attracts 5 new fans, it’s a win if those users are your brand’s target audience.

2) Strive for authenticity and exclusivity.

If the content you’re providing under the like-gate can be found somewhere else on the Web, what’s the point? To truly entice your audience, you’ve got to give fans something authentic and exclusive. This past April, Self magazine like-gated a live chat with cover girl Kim Kardashian. In doing so, Self was providing its fan base with an insider experience that they couldn’t get elsewhere. Jennifer Lopez did something similar when she asked users to like an upcoming single on her Facebook page. Once they liked the song, fans could download it from iTunes before the official release date. Only 2,000 Facebook users liked the tune—compared to Taco Bell’s 250,000 new fans—but I would argue that Jennifer Lopez’s likes were more valuable. These fans were seeking out something they couldn’t get anywhere else, unlike a $0.99 taco. The result: truly qualified leads.

3) Watch your post-campaign engagement.

An April study by Visibli found that overall engagement levels for brands and media companies decrease as the number of fans increase. Once your like-gate campaign is over, it’s important to keep your new (and old) fans engaged by sticking to best practices, some of which include:

  • Ask your fans a question or for their opinion when you post
  • Provide calls to action with polls, quizzes, fill in the blank posts, etc.
  • Clean up your posts by revising headlines and descriptions
  • Getting rid of clutter will make your posts standout in the news feed
  • Keep your posts simple

You’ll know the above best practices are working by monitoring your like rates, comment rates, and engagement rates at www.facebook.com/insights.

Here are some other ideas to consider from a recent Buddy Media analysis of Facebook pages from 100 of the world’s largest retail brands during a six-month period:

  • Posts made between 8 p.m. and 7 a.m. receive 20% more user engagement
  • Be sure to post on Wednesdays. Fan engagement is 8% above average
  • Posts with 80 characters or less receive 66% higher engagement
  • Fill in the blank posts receive 9 times more comments than other posts

In the end, knowing your audience and testing out ideas will win out over other brands’ tips and tricks. If you notice something’s not working on your like-gate, stop. If you want to try something different, do it. Just remember to back everything up with data, and most importantly, remain true to your brand. Your fans will thank you.

Elizabeth Riley

Marketing & Digital Specialist, Chicago magazine


Lover of life, news, and all things media. Trained journalist. Reader-engagement enthusiast. Social media and digital marketing lady for Chicago magazine.

Want to write for Social Media Week?

We're looking for individuals around the globe to contribute articles on marketing, media, technology, and more.