It’s the End of Facebook Gating (as We Know It)

stop sign
stop sign

Early last month Facebook announced that, starting November 5, it will ban like-gating – the practice of offering users a reward for liking a business’ page. For businesses that rely on like-gated apps to build follower counts, this sounds like awful news. However, there are actually a lot of good reasons why like-gating should no longer be a best practice. Let’s check out why. Likes May Not Be as Valuable as You Think

Imagine you were offered the choice between 10 highly qualified leads and 100 mostly unqualified ones: which would you choose? The former, obviously – even if you end up getting 11 qualified leads out of the latter group, that slight increase in value wouldn’t make up for the time you lost sorting through the unqualified ones.

Like-gated Facebook contests – especially those with universally desired prizes, like vacations, sports tickets or consumer electronics – often attract such a broad audience that they produce mostly unqualified leads. What’s more, many of these unqualified leads will immediately unlike your page after they pass the gate and enter your contest, leaving you without even a like for your effort.

Compounding this issue is the fact that even likes from potential leads don’t really have much concrete value anymore. Like count may have once served as a rough proxy for message distribution, but today most brands’ organic reach is only about 3% of their total follower count. If posts aren’t reaching a fanbase organically, then increasing the size of the fanbase (especially with unqualified leads) doesn’t really add much value – better to just pay for distribution to your target group.

Better Ways to Gate Content

Alright, time for the good news: there are lots of alternatives to like-gating, and almost all of them produce more meaningful and valuable results than the system they replace. For example, instead of requiring a like to enter a contest, a business could require that a person join their email list or provide contact information. The truly ambitious could confirm that the entrant is really interested by requiring a response to an automated email to confirm their entry. This practice is typically called “action-gating.”

You could also require that potential entrants visit a landing page on your site to complete their entry. By monitoring the time spent by each user on the landing page, you can estimate how many visitors are actually interested in the information it provides. The landing page could even contain an action gate of its own, such as a survey that needs to be filled out.

In both of these examples, you’re getting a lot more than just a Facebook like – you’re getting valuable personal and behavioral information about your potential customers. This information can then be used to improve both inbound and outbound marketing efforts: refining your email list, targeting your blog content, updating your website, even tweaking your social media strategy. Again, its 10 qualified leads versus 100 random ones – 10 detailed customer profiles are a lot more valuable than 100 Facebook likes.

Owning vs. Renting

Finally, getting rid of like-gating allows marketers to focus more on their owned properties. Instead of requiring people to like your company’s Facebook page – which, no matter how dedicated you are to it, will never be truly yours – you can use Facebook contests as a referral tool for your website, newsletter and other owned media platforms.

We put a lot of time and effort into our social media presences, so it can be easy to forget that they’re not fully ours – we only “rent” them from the network owners, who collect our data as payment. This is a mutually beneficial agreement, to be sure, but it’s important to remember that their TOS allows them to “evict” us at any time and for any reason. Because of this, Facebook provides the most value when it’s driving potential customers to owned properties as quickly as possible.

If you rent an apartment, it’s probably not a good idea for you to spend $20,000 to renovate the kitchen – that money would be better used for a down payment on something you’ll own. You don’t own the likes or your Facebook page, but you DO own your email list, your landing pages, and your lead database. Action-gated contests help the former build the latter.

Like-Gating Is Dead: Long Live Action-Gating

The end of like-gating is a good thing because it forces us to take a critical look at how we measure the value of our social media programs. Likes are only one of many different KPIs we can use to judge the effectiveness of our social spend – and, as has been argued here, they may not even be the best one. Through questioning their value, as the end of like-gating has forced us to do, we can discover ways to improve both our programs and our performance metrics.

What are your thoughts on the end of like-gating? Let us know in the comments!

Zach Pearson is an Account Executive - Content at Greenough. Follow him on Twitter: @zach_p_pearson

Four Social Media Tips for Non-profits

Photo: Flickr Creative Commons; thethreesisters
Photo: Flickr Creative Commons; thethreesisters

You’ve likely heard the statistic that using social media increases non-profit fundraising up to 40 percent. However, simply having a Twitter or Facebook account does not guarantee success. At Greenough, we’ve had experience working with and following non-profit organizations’ social media channels. Here are some lessons we’ve picked up along the way: 1. Stay true to your values. Your social media presence should reflect your organization’s values and goals. To that end, it’s important to avoid the urge to friend, follow or connect with every company, brand or group that comes your way, for the sole sake of growing your follower base. Instead, try to associate with organizations that share your values and interests. As your program develops, they will be the network you use to spread word about your organization and gain support.

2. Help your followers help you. To learn how to get involved with the American Cancer Society, all you have to do is take a look at its Twitter account (@AmericanCancer ). There’s a lesson here: a good non-profit social media account helps followers get involved, raise money and support their cause. A common problem for non-profits is that people want to help, but don’t know how; social media is a great way to solve that problem.

3. Communication is key. Too often, organizations view social media as a podium instead of a medium for communicating with followers. While maintaining your social media accounts is a full-time job, it’s important not to forget your supporters. Engaging your followers can be as simple as replying to a tweet, commenting on a status, or sending an individual message. For example, when the non-profit national research registry ResearchMatch launched its food allergy sub-registry in December 2013, it took to its @ResearchMatch Twitter account to send individual messages to followers informing them of the development. In addition to engaging your followers and encouraging their input, personal messages also open up your organization to new ideas and feedback.

4. Show the impact of donations and volunteers. People want to know that their gifts and hard work are paying off. Facebook and Twitter are perfect venues to express appreciation for and show the impact of volunteer efforts. Even simple gestures, like a “thank you” tweet can show volunteers that their help makes a difference. Tally up total donations or spotlight different individuals and creatively showcase their initiatives.

Do you have any tips on how non-profits can better use social media to reach their goals? Please let us know in the comments – we’d love to hear them!

Contributed by Account Executive Michael Glen. Send him an email: 

Short Sociability is Here to Stay

We finally know that Facebook will add videos to Instagram.  While moving from photos to videos may seem like a logical step, I can’t help but wonder if this move simply reflects the pressure that Facebook now feels from Twitter’s Vine app.  Pressure or not, “short sociability” is here to stay. An instant sensation, Vine launched in January of 2013 and already boasts 13 million iPhone users.  Only one day after it released an Android version of the app, Vine passed Instagram in total Twitter shares, and it is currently the number-one downloaded app for Android, placing Instagram in second.

There’s no question about the popularity of short sociability. Just look at GIFs (graphic interchange format).  First created in 1987, these animated pictures are now more popular than ever.  Vine’s six second videos are based on the same idea as Twitter’s 140 character limit.  By imposing a limit on social interactions, users are forced to be more concise and more creative.  While it may seem easy to shoot a video in six seconds, it actually takes a great deal of thought and creativity to tell a story in that amount of time.

As Vine’s popularity soars, brands are beginning to tap into its potential, including brands in the retail and food & beverage sectors.  Lowe’s posts home improvement tips in six-second Vine videos while Bacardi uses Vine to demonstrate how to make a variety of cocktails in six seconds or less.  The Gap, Urban Outfitters and Doritos are among many brands also using this platform to engage with consumers.  Even General Electric, a 121-year-old company, is using Vine to market to a much younger brand with its #6secondscience clips.

Besides engaging with consumers through uploading short videos of new products, upcoming events, company contests, etc., Vine gives brand marketers the ability to tell a story.  The time-limit fosters creativity, forcing brands to make their upload matter, keeping audiences engaged.  With Instagram’s new video feature, it is clear that short sociability isn’t going anywhere.  Do you plan on introducing short sociability into your marketing strategy? How?

Emma Kieckhafer is an Account Executive at Greenough. Send her an email:   

What Better Place to Talk about Facebook than…Twitter?

Anne blog chart_9.13
Anne blog chart_9.13

In addition to Greenough’s social media listening platform, I love playing with tools, widgets and apps out there to test out hypotheses and satisfy my pangs of curiosity. One tool I’m a fan of is a free Twitter analytics service called Topsy. Yesterday, I was playing with keywords and testing different “rivalries” to see how they played out on Twitter. Purely to satisfy my own whim, I compared the number of times Twitter users mentioned the words “Twitter,” “Facebook” and “LinkedIn” during the past month.

A couple of noteworthy observations and patterns that piqued my interest:

  • At only one point during the entire month does Facebook fall out of first place as the more-frequently-mentioned social network among Twitter users (on August 18).
  •  Unlike a lot of closely-related topics (e.g. Democrats and Republicans), Facebook and Twitter generally don’t follow the same patterns of ups and downs.
  • Mentions of Twitter declined sharply on Fridays, while mentions of Facebook tended to trend downward on Saturdays.
  • LinkedIn is mentioned significantly less than Facebook or Twitter.

One might think that Twitter (the topic) would be discussed more among Twitter users than Facebook (the topic), but that’s not the case. How come? I couldn’t leave well enough alone, so I did some digging and musing to try to identify some possible contributing factors.

Potential reasons why Facebook may have edged out Twitter in mentions:

  • When someone talks about Twitter, often they’ll just talk about tweets without saying where they were tweeted (for humans, Twitter’s the only place you can tweet); With Facebook, you use regular verbs that still require you to include the word “Facebook.” E.g. We liked the page on Facebook; He posted the photo on Facebook; I updated my status on Facebook.
  • There are more aspects of Facebook to master, meaning that there are more tips, tricks, questions, etc. floating around out there.
  • Facebook has more users than Twitter, so it stands to reason that it’d have more mentions, even within the Twitter channel. Facebook is not as open as Twitter and information doesn’t flow as freely, so Twitter is an easier channel through which to seek information or search for like-minded users.
  • Facebook is just in the news more than Twitter – IPO, privacy issues.
  • Promoting Facebook contests/giveaways

LinkedIn is no small potatoes in the social realm, so why is it barely a blip on the radar when tracking mentions on Twitter? I have a few guesses, but what do YOU think? Share your thoughts in the comment section on this or on any of the other observations that beg for further explanation.

-- Anne Norris is a senior consultant, digital and social media. Follow Anne on Twitter: @anne_norris

See How Clients Rate Our Passion for Their Business

Surveying your customers in order to gauge their satisfaction with your products or services is nothing new—and applying that same principle to a PR, marketing and communications agency such as ours makes perfect sense. And we’ve been measuring client satisfaction for 11 years. The results, as you might expect, help us assess our strengths and weaknesses, and they form a strong foundation for determining the agency’s to-dos, whether that’s to build on our ability to drive new sales for our customers or polish our storytelling capabilities.

Instead of purely bragging about our results, however, which you can see a select sampling of here, we challenge you to assess your own PR/marketing/communications agency on the following criteria:

1) Is your agency an extension of your own team? By this I mean does your agency work efficiently and effectively with your staff? Do the two teams have a solid rapport and bullet-proof communication? Does your agency enhance your own capabilities (versus creating redundancy) and complement your existing skillset (versus replicating key abilities)? If it didn’t violate any contracts or policies, would you hire the staff at your agency as employees? Do they have the same (or complementary) core values, work ethic, personal style (and even sense of humor) as your strongest team members?

2) Does your agency demonstrate a passion for your business? Let’s face it—it’s difficult for anyone to know your business as well as you do—but a good agency can come damn close—and should. Your perfect agency should demonstrate complete immersion in your industry, including knowing your competitors, understanding the key issues and having a familiarty with the major players, trends and developments. We’re not talking about a quick refresh before your next in-person visit or conference call—we’re referring to a deep  and ongoing knowledge of all your strengths, weakenesses and paint points—internal and external. In a word, your agency should be a subject matter expert in your company and your industry.

3) Does your agency work proactively on your behalf? Someone once said you can’t teach people to be proactive—they either are or aren’t. In my opinion, the best employees are wired to take charge and think ahead—they try to solve problems ahead of the curve. The flip side, naturally, is less desirable—the reactive (versus proactive) employee waits for your orders before they move. Seems pretty clear which type makes a better partner, don’t you think?

4) Last but not least, and perhaps most importantly, does your agency help drive new sales? Is your agency connecting you to qualified leads? Yes, a large part of PR, marketing and comuinications work involves building a brand, whether that’s through thought leadership (contributed articles), social media (Facebook likes) and/or media coverage (Wall Street Journal). But is your agency working from a strategic point of view, directing, managing and integrating all the efforts, from content creation and media outreach to social media, ongoing measurement and reliable follow-up, in order to drive new business into your hopper?  At the end of the day, just answering that one simple question may be the truth you need.

Barbara Call is director of content at Greenough. Follow her on Twitter @BarbaraCall1