Another day, another change to how Facebook works for restaurant marketers. Facebook recently announced that they will be removing “like gating,” otherwise known as “fan gating,” from Facebook pages on November 5th. It’s a big change, but not an unwelcome one.
What is a Like Gate and Why is it Changing?
A “like gate,” as it is known among marketing circles, is a term for a Facebook application, such as a Sweepstakes, that requires a guest or customer to Like the Page of the company before being able to participate. It’s been a tool for guest acquisition for a long time – guests Like a page for access to exclusive content and coupons, then stay for your regular social media marketing posts.
Facebook is removing the Like Gate because it wants to emphasize “quality connections” rather than one-off relationships that die once the original incentive is no longer available. It’s a noble goal. It’s up to marketers to face the change head on – and we promise, there are ways to successfully do so.
What Should Restaurants Do?
While the loss of Like Gates may change the way guest acquisition works in Facebook, that doesn’t mean it can’t work for your place. The Facebook Sweepstakes app within the Fishbowl Local product can still collect email addresses, which are in many cases more valuable than Likes. But before the November 5th deadline, we offer the following suggestions:
1. Use Like Gates while you can. Put together a Sweepstakes while you can still make use of the Like Gate, and drive as many new fans in as possible in the coming months. Since this will likely be the last time you can Like Gate a Sweepstakes, consider a richer reward – richer rewards tend to drive higher guest acquisition results. Instead of a free lunch, consider dinner and a movie.
2. Focus on other digital marketing channels. Since you won’t be ableto acquire guests on Facebook the way you used to, now is the time to focus on your other marketing avenues. Your eClub is still a great avenue for one-to-one communication, and the new Foursquare app is a great opportunity to drive in new guests using the new “tastes” feature.
3. Encourage Likes without offering incentives. You can still ask guests to Like your Page. Put signage up in your store,send a mailing out to your eClub, and add a link to your website. The goodnews is that guests who Like without expecting a reward are more likely to stay with the page and are more likely to continuously engage.