A popular strategy used by Facebook Page marketers and community managers to grow a base of active fans involved developing a custom tab that could be used a Like Gate.
Ideally, this tab would include some type of message and call to action that would tease the user to click Like and become a fan in order to see the hidden content on the reveal tab.
These gates also typically used some typen of graphic to point out the Like button at the top of the page.
Once built, page admins then worked to launch, manage and optimize highly targeted Facebook advertising campaigns intended to draw users to click through back to the gated tab.
Dynamic Like Gates
During my time at Bob Evans, we even went as far to employ advertising campaigns that use “dynamic Like Gating” with the help of our development partners at ZipScene.
Using custom-developed applications, we were able to pull users from specific, highly targeted ads through Like Gates that contained a customized message that aligned with the messaging that drew their initial click.
Over the course of 90 days, we saw our page grow by about 45,000 fans on less than a $15,000 advertising budget with pretty decent conversion rates.
Applying Like Gating in conjunction with well designed Facebook Ad Campaigns allowed Facebook marketers to quickly drive up the fan base, maximizing the number Connections, the metric in the Facebook Ad Manager that tracks the number of people who liked your Facebook Page within 24 hours of seeing one of your ads.
Muddy Waters Surround Facebook Like Gating
To the initial dismay of many Facebook marketers, page admins and agencies everywhere, it appeared that Like Gating would become a thing of the past. In the Timeline for pages release, Facebook opted to remove administrative abilities to change the default landing tabs, instead directing users to land on the Page Timeline.
Then on of March 5th, Inside Facebook posted that marketers still had the ability to drive users who clicked on Facebook Ads to third-party tab applications, even though pages lost the ability to designate a default landing tab. A bug was later reported to Facebook that was causing issues with the users ability to refresh the page after clicking the Like button, preventing the reveal of the gated content. As of yesterday, Facebook reported that this bug had been resolved.
(Thanks and a hat tip to Markus Welin and Erwin Meester for the updated information!)
Whether it’s via Like Gating or other approaches, the truth stands hard and fast — in order for your brand or business Facebook Page to be effective, it’s mission critical to know how to grow your Facebook fan base with the targeted users in the right areas who have potential to become customers of your business.
So what do businesses do now?
3 Alternative Fan Growth Tactics
Well, aside from big budget brands who will have the means to use some of Facebook’s new in-stream advertising services, there are a few alternative tactics that you can apply to meet the need of building a fan base for your Facebook Page and ultimately an audience for your businesses content.
1. Add a Like Button Inside of Your Facebook Ads
For small and medium sized businesses who will be spending less than $2000 per month on Facebook Ad campaigns, this will most likely be one of the easiest and hassle free alternatives to once coveted Like Gating technique.
From your Facebook Ad Manager dashboard you will have the ability to include a Like Button inside if the ads you design.
When you set this style of ad up, you will notice that a message appears next to the ad’s Like button that will show which of the users friends have already Liked the Page.
This strip will be different for everyone, depending on who they are connected to on Facebook.
For brands focused on growing the volume of fans to their pages, this tactic actually may be even more effective than standard Like Gating in that it removes one extra click from the conversion process.
Ultimately, the Facebook user who is targeted now can Like the page by clicking through the ad itself, rather than clicking through to a gate that then asks for a second click.
2. Offer Incentive for the Likes via Your Application Boxes
Some pages have adapted their once gated tabs to entice users to Like the page by offering a coupon, discount or promotion as a hook.
To do this properly, you will need to communicate the incentive clearly on the custom app icon which is sized at 111 pixels x 74 pixels, so be clever and brief as it’s not a lot of room for copy.
Once you have inserted the message, make sure to move your custom app icon to the forefront of your app navigation located on the top left area of your page. You can also support the new application tab by creating a status update that links to directly to your tab, and then Pinning it to the top of your page or even creating a Milestone.
It’s still to early to determine whether or not this will prove to be a successful tactic. One thing remains certain — as of March 30th, Timeline for pages will be rolled out to all existing Facebook pages in the system, automatically shifting the default landing tab on your page to the Timeline.
3. Work harder at community management to increase object EdgeRank and generate ‘organic’ newsfeed placement
I find it incredibly interesting that Facebook’s new advertising model, while not really positioned for use by smaller businesses or even middle market companies, focuses on driving content driven ads into the news feeds of fans of your page.
What’s more is that Facebook and a few other early brand adopters have cited between 50% – 75% conversion on the in-stream ads, pushed through Reach Generator and the even more costly Premium Ads feature.
So what does that mean for small businesses?
By focusing on learning how to Pinn and measure content that generates significant interactions such as comments, comment likes, sharing, tagging from your fans, you can actually increase the EdgeRank scores for objects and cause it to be distributed virally into the Newsfeeds of your most active fans.
While the running numbers stand that only 12% – 15% of your Facebook fans will actually see these updates, this still provides an opportunity for your page to to grow it’s Facebook fans organically. Here are some tactics you might experiment with to build higher EdgeRank on your content objects by calling your fans to specific interactions:
- Ask your audience “this or that” style questions. An example might be: “What’s your favorite breakfast cereal? Frosted Flakes or Cheerios?”
- Precede your questions with instructions as to how the fans should interact. An example might be: “By a show of Likes, how many of you are ready for spring to arrive…”
- Choose your Pinn content wisely and include video and high quality imagery. Ask for your fans to comment. An example might be: “Here’s our latest video on a new product we’ve launched. In the comments, would you tell us how you think we can make this better?”
How Are You Adapting Your Facebook Tatics?
What else are you doing to adapt how your grow your Facebook page as an alternative to Like Gating?
If you have additional questions or want to share your experiences, let’s talk in the comments, okay?