“We want people to like Pages because they want to connect and hear from the business, not because of artificial incentives,” Harshdeep Singh, a software engineer at Facebook, explained in a Thursday blog post. “We believe this update will benefit people and advertisers alike.”
Marketers, however, may still incentivize Facebook users to log in to their apps, check in at a particular location and enter a promotion on their app’s Page.
Marketing execs said the changes shouldn’t impact legitimate businesses, and might even discourage dishonest marketing tactics on Facebook.
“Over the last 12-18 months, major advertisers and big brands have organically moved away from tactics such as ‘like gating’ -- or providing incentives to gain new Likes,” said Jamie Tedford, CEO of Brand Networks, one of Facebook’s “preferred marketing partners.”
“This policy is likely to only affect a small group of bad actors who have always, and will continue to try to game the system for short-term gain,” Tedford said.
Social experts said the changes seemed inevitable. “As mentioned in the company’s [second quarter] earnings call, Facebook remains focused on creating [a] superior user experience,” said Addie Conner, chief innovation officer at SocialCode, a Twitter marketing platform partner.
Facebook "recently identified that, when brands explicitly request audiences to ‘like’ a piece of content, it disrupts user experience -- often resulting in users ‘hiding’ posts, marking them as spam, or expressing low relevance in future surveys,” Conner noted.
The changes appear to be part of a broader effort by Facebook to encourage greater engagement levels -- often at the expense of Page-level reach.
In fact, Post-level reach declined 27% over the past quarter, according to data released in May by Shareablee. Yet among 150 brands, total organic reach grew 11% between the fourth quarter of 2013 and the first quarter of 2014 -- thanks to a 65% rise in engagement rates -- the social analytics start-up found.
Facebook said it is expecting developers to update their apps to comply with the policy changes by November 5.
Reached for comment, a Facebook spokeswoman declined to elaborate on the policy changes. Reiterating Singh’s sentiment, she said: “Forcing someone to click Like before they can progress in an activity is not always a positive experience.”