What’s So Bad About Like-Gating?

By Mark Evans - Friday, March 25th, 2011 at 6:37 am  

You’ve probably heard of the adage “there is no such thing as a free lunch”. And when it comes to Facebook Pages, it is becoming more common to see companies offer something free to consumers….if they “Like” a page.

It’s a technique known as “Like-Gating”, and it has attracted critics who believe it’s lazy way to build a community as opposed to nurturing a community through engagement and compelling content. In many respects, this criticism is valid because you want someone to “Like” you for who you are rather than free stuff.

On the other side of the coin, “Like-Gating” can be an effective approach to get a foothold with consumers who tend to be fickle and multi-taskers. If it takes “Like-Gating” to capture their attention – even if it’s temporary – then it may have its role.

The key to effective “Like-Gating” is providing value and great content after the “Like”. Once someone has “Liked” a page to get access to a special offer, there’s a small window of opportunity to convince them to stick around.

It’s like offering free samples outside a restaurant. If a consumer likes what they taste, the restauranteur needs to follow up with great service, a good atmosphere and an appealing menu. If they fail to deliver, the consumer will walk out the door pretty soon.

The biggest mistake and risks in “Like-Gating” is not having anything of value to offer afterward. If a consumer doesn’t see other things to pique their interest, they will leave and probably “Unlike” the page in the process. Facebook used to make it challenging to “Unlike” but that has changed recently.

“Like-Gating” is a tease or a loss-leader. It’s a way to stand out from the crowd in a marketplace becoming increasingly crowded. For companies looking to embrace it, the “rewards” for “Like-Gating” need to be interesting and worthwhile, otherwise they will be ignored.

At the same time, “Like-Gating” lets you get a foot in the door. But the only way to really win someone over is following up with engaging, educational or enlightening content on a regular basis. In other words, there has to be a lot more than just the initial reward for liking a page.

This is where real strategic planning comes into play. After the “Like”, companies with a plan of attack that includes an editorial calendar, contests, polls, interesting content and a commitment to engagement have a good shot at keeping people around.

This is when the hard work happens and, unfortunately, a place in which many companies fail because they only think short-term. After the “Like”, they expect people to stick around simply because they have signed up – something that doesn’t happen in the fickle digital world in which we live.

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