I have been sounding the alarm for some time that Facebook is slowly making changes that will force rural and small business owners to either buy paid advertising to reach consumers on Facebook, or attempt to grow their page organically (which is becoming increasingly challenging on Facebook).
This past week, Facebook announced another change to business pages that will have significant implications for small businesses:
“You must not incentivize people to use social plugins or to like a Page. This includes offering rewards, or gating apps or app content based on whether or not a person has liked a Page. It remains acceptable to incentivize people to login to your app, checkin at a place or enter a promotion on your app’s Page. To ensure quality connections and help businesses reach the people who matter to them, we want people to like Pages because they want to connect and hear from the business, not because of artificial incentives. We believe this update will benefit people and advertisers alike.”
What does this mean? It means you cannot ask people to Like your page, and in return, give them something. That means no free birthday steak coupon promotions, no coupon booklets, no concert or theatre tickets. These promotions are typically done by businesses on Facebook using third party apps. A common term used to describe these apps is “Like Gating” or ” Fan Gating.”
If you are currently using “Like Gating” apps on your Facebook apps or are using any type of “Like” option on your contests, you now have until Nov. 5, 2014 to remove them from your page.
I expect that Facebook will soon expand the capabilities of its own advertising services to enable businesses to have more options. But make no mistake: If you have a business page on Facebook, you will feel more pressure in the coming years to use Facebook advertising in order to reach your audience. That’s the direction that Facebook is headed.