Facebook recently announced to web developers that they can no longer use like-gating as a way to artificially inflate social media presence. Social networking has been a target for online marketing and SEO, but some webmasters used popups that forced users to like a page before they can read the content. The process was called like-gating, and Facebook is determined to put an end to it.
Have you ever reached a website through a search engine or other website only to have a popup ask you to like the page on Facebook before you read the content? This process is called like-gating, and it’s frustrating for users and artificially inflates the website’s fan numbers. Finally, Facebook has announced (See: Changes to Platform Policy) that developers can no longer use these popups in Facebook plugins and apps. If you own a site with this type of plugin, here is what you need to do and how you can help keep users while still asking for likes.
Facebook Becomes a Spammer Haven
Years ago, Facebook announced that it would improve its algorithm by detecting fake profiles and removing them from its system. Facebook has been increasingly more aware of people gaming its system. Unfortunately, what was supposed to be a fun social sharing and networking site is now the main focus for spammers. Facebook continually fights efforts made to gain search engine rank and artificial social media presence from spammers.
A few years ago, WordPress plugins came around that included a Facebook like message when users opened a website. In some poorly coded sites, the popup wouldn’t go away and provided no way for the reader to stop the popup from opening each time a new page was loaded. Even Google detects this type of behavior and devalues sites with popups. Bounce rate on pages with popups is also incredibly high. However, if the webmaster’s goal is to inflate Facebook presence using likes, some users would like a page just to get the popup to go away. The result was that the spammer would have thousands of unearned likes that he could then use to spam Facebook walls and gather social media data to use for other purposes.
What about Legitimate Site Owners?
You can still use the Facebook like plugin on your site. You just can’t use it in a popup that blocks content when users open any page on a site. Although you might think this step will harm your SEO and social media marketing, your site could gain search engine rank and might even engage users more, which means you have a better chance to earn ad clicks or sales overall.
You can place a Facebook plugin on your site in the ad space or in a banner [notice mine on the sidebar 😉]. You should use these plugins as a way to communicate with your customers and not use information for spam purposes. Another way to enhance your marketing could be to add a newsletter signup along with your Facebook like plugin. A newsletter lets you keep in contact with potential customers and still offer information that could make you sales. Newsletters are great opt-in opportunities for legitimate site owners who need a way to keep their site in front of users without using spammy techniques. When you use newsletters, don’t send emails too often. Newsletters sent every day sometimes get your site put on a spam list, so your domain’s emails are automatically routed to a user’s spam filter.
When using any type of online marketing, always use caution when you feel like your tactics are gaming the system. Like-gating was bound to get Facebook’s attention at some point, and the result is that webmasters must remove plugins that interfere with content. If you use any popup that asks users for a Facebook like, you need to remove it and use better, less intrusive ways to keep your visitors engaged.