3 Like Gating Alternatives for the New Facebook Timeline

by Nate Riggs on Mar 08, 2012
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Originally published as part of an ongoing seriers on nateriggs.com on how community managers and page admins will need to adapt to the new Facebook Timeline.

Like ButtonA 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

Bob Evans Like Gate

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

Facebook Ads Like Button

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.

Facebook App Navigation

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:

  1. Ask your audience “this or that” style questions.  An example might be: “What’s your favorite breakfast cereal? Frosted Flakes or Cheerios?”
  2. 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…”
  3. 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?

Post Author

Nate Riggs is a leading content marketing strategist and community manager, who leads the social business division at The Karcher Group. For the past 10 years, he has advised organizations like Bob Evans Farms, Scotts Miracle-Gro, Bayer Animal Health, Imgur.com,...

  • Facebook seems to have fixed the bug so like gating is working again:


  • Even though the Timeline is now mandatory as a start page, you can still direct ads to custom tabs: 

  • Thanks for the update, Markus. I’m glad that the FB folks didn’t take this away permanently. Do you think it was due to marketers backlash?  Your thoughts as well, @facebook-614041746:disqus ?

  • I wish we wouldn’t place so much emphasis on tactics similar to “like gating”.  On fmc day, I sat back and listened to a stream of complaints about this feature no longer being available as default..etc, etc…

    Look.  If you have to like gate your content to build followers, I have a revelation for you:

    #1 – Those fans don’t necessarily “like you” at all!  Giving someone incentives to connect with me isn’t a fan…
    #2 – If you can’t generate organic likes… you’re just not very interesting.  

    I’m passionate enough about this, that I’m going to write a post about it this week.  But, we need to stop treating social media as quantitative, broadcasting, and “trickery.”  I understand Nate (because I follow your stuff) that you are not insisting brands do this, and that we are already on the same page. But this article seems built around generating likes.. not generating connections.

    The gospel you should be preaching is how to grow within social media w/o the trickery or incentives.

  • Yes, me too. The redirect was a good fix, and you are probably right about the reason why. Would have been unwise to make it harder for advertisers.

  • This wasn’t a reaction to a backlash, it was there from the very beginning. Your visitors can see up to 10 apps with 8 of them in your control. You can create more apps than 10, they just won’t be visible to your audience. The reason one would opt to create more apps is to set up a semi-private/targeted offer by linking directly to the app that is not visible.

    Hope that made sense … Scott

  • Michael

    Dude, learn to proofread! I haven’t seen this many typos and grammatical mistakes on a public blog in quite a while.

  • Um, you do know that marketing IS essentially “trickery”, right? It’s manipulation, plain and simple. So how is Like Gating any better or worse?

  • I disagree with you completely on your definition of marketing. Sorry dude. Perhaps we come from different schools…

  • @58c56838d9e125746f9b0bf4ccd19680:disqus Fan Gates still work from ads, but you can no longer set a gate as the default landing tab from an organic Like.  The default will now be the Timeline. Helpful?

  • Fair points, @Olinjoseph:disqus , but I tend to disagree with the whole “Trickery” statement. Same as @c5d54887fd2da440e5809dce378c0e0f:disqus below.

    First, I’ve used Like Gating on multiple pages from small businesses to big brand pages. It’s an effective tactic.  You have to keep in mind that Liking the page is the first step in increase the EdgeRank for you content objects.  Without it, your content gets buried in the haystack that is users profile streams on Facebook. Not sure if it’s still called the Wall or not. 

    I do agree with the rest of your statement in that your page content will be what interests a fan to interact and hit the other two aspects of Time Decay and Weight. The combination of all three is where the viral magic happens … and that has immense marketing value to any brand.

    I think of a Like as more of an “Intent to subscribe” rather than a “Subscribe” like we would see in email marketing. At the end of the day, there are lots of ways to get the Like, but getting it is important none the less of you want results. 

    (And, I appreciate that you follow my stuff. Thank you. :)

  • Olin Graczyk

    Yea, I’m with Nate.  It’s unfortunate that you feel this way Michael.  If you’d like, reach out to me directly on Twitter and I will recommend a wealth of books that should demonstrate what marketing really is, and hopefully change your perspective.

    Nate – you make fair and valid points above. I’m still reluctant to fully embrace like-gating, but I like your “intent to subscribe” analogy.  

    It is tough to explain in detail within a comment, but I remain an advocate of organic “likes.” It is tough to condone building fanbases around consumers that aren’t true advocates of your brand (and we’ve been guilty of this.. growing communities around coupons, etc).  When I subscribe to Groupon – I know EXACTLY what the value is: one email a day with one significantly discounted offer. 

    My fear is that we build communities around the same value exchange as these email (subscribe and be rewarded with discounts) – yet we create strategies, content, and measurement around completely different intent (for example, engagement).

    Therefore – why not build communities from the get-go with the same intent. Sure, the numbers won’t “wow” you, but at least they are accurate, resembling true advocates of your brand.

    This is partly our fault, as marketers. We have led the clients to believe that fan count, followers, etc are quantifiable and true measure of performance.  No, we’ve hit a plateau, and in my opinion, realized our KPI’s were incorrect.

  • Thanks for the information, it was quite revealing… 

  •  Like your point of Olin…

  • uniformmarket

    yes its right  but want to redirect face book fan page when fans click on like button at the top right corner of time line page can u help me