Since Facebook formally started allowing brands to “Like-gate” (also sometimes called “Fan-gate”) page and app content in late 2009, it has become a popular tactic employed by many of the world’s largest brands.  It allows brands to increase their fan count by requiring Facebook users to “Like” their Brand Pages before they can see particular content.

Detractors claim that requiring new visitors to “Like” a page in exchange for exclusive offers or content cheapens the “Like,” and may deter potential fans from joining a brand’s community.  Additionally, it may frustrate those who do join and expect more from their loyalty to the brand.

On the other hand, “Like-gating” can be a powerful means to acquiring fans when the “Like” is requested in exchange for compelling, exclusive content. And brands have a strong incentive to collect “Likes.” Each “Like” represents a new opportunity to cultivate relationships with potential customers and actively communicate with and remarket to this qualified audience. Communication on Facebook can be even more powerful than email and other channels because the content is more targeted, more easily shared, and visible within the Facebook Newsfeed — which is one of the most popular modes of discovery on the web today.

Encouraging fan acquisition by collecting “Likes” is generally a core part of most recommended Facebook approaches. Before “Like-gating” content on your page, however, formulating a strategy specific to your company’s goals, audience, and available resources is crucial.  Here are some key considerations that will help you determine whether “Like-gating” is right for your page and, if so, how to make the most out of this feature.

Identify Goals & Assess Readiness

Whether your primary goal is to grow your fan base, increase engagement, or drive website traffic, there is tremendous value in building an audience. “Like-gating” can help you capture new visitors that land on your page, which increases the size of your page as well as your potential audience reach. However, if your brand is currently resource-constrained and struggling to regularly deliver content or engage your audience in a meaningful way, “Likegating” may not be advantageous just yet.  You should first focus on creating an interactive community; once there’s a compelling reason for new fans to join your page, then consider making it exclusive.

Keep the following considerations in mind once you’ve opted for a “Like-gating” strategy:

Deliver a Strong Call-to-Action & Compelling Reason to “Like”

Your brand’s landing page provides a unique opportunity to make a positive, lasting impression on new visitors and potential customers. Use the landing page to explicitly callout the unique advantages of your Facebook community or spotlight information that fans and followers want to know.   You can drive fan growth on the landing page with a strong call-to-action that resonates with your target audience and clearly communicates the advantages of “Liking” your page.

Focus on Quality over Quantity

To ensure that you build a qualified audience, “Like-gating” should be connected with benefits that are highly relevant to your brand. These benefits depend on the segment and product that your company delivers, such as access to limited-edition items, unique editorial content, participation in a community of like-minded individuals and promotional offerings.

Follow Through

If your brand plans to use “Like-gating” for fan acquisition as part of a campaign or promotion, then you need to be staffed-up and ready to deliver value once you’ve begun to build a fan base. It’s also crucial to deliver on the specific offer used to encourage new visitors to “Like” your page.

Consistently Deliver

Above all, the goal is that the fan benefits from the connection that’s been established with your company. Once you’ve built an audience, continue to engage your customers with compelling content, applications, and opportunities to participate in the community. If your company is unable to consistently publish to its Facebook page, fans are likely to lose interest or, worse, forget that they previously “Liked” your page and decide to “Unlike” the page when they see messages coming from your brand again.

Reward Loyalty

Facebook offers an unprecedented opportunity to reward loyal fans of your brand and convert those fans into brand advocates. By making it possible for only those who “Like” your page to receive exclusive offers, access contests, and engage in quizzes and polls, your company increases its ability to capitalize on its relationships, leverage brand preference, and recruit new prospects.

— The Blog Team