The Facebook Fangate is Dead, Your Technical Guide

by Andreas Teufel on Nov 11, 2014
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facebook-fangate-is-dead

Well, it has finally happened.

Facebook killed off fangates last week as of November 5, 2014.

The general rule for these kind of changes on Facebook is that you get at least 90 days to update your apps, and this change was no different, originally announced in August earlier this year. According to Facebook, 90% of apps on the social network get updated in 80-140 days.

Don’t confuse this with Graph/Core API changes, because those have a much longer support time – at least 2 years after the next version gets published.

Some technical stuff

Fangates on page tabs are implemented by parsing the “signed_request” parameter that is sent to the page tab as POST variable.

All new apps will not even include that parameter, apps created before 7th of August 2014 were still be able to use a fangate until November 5, 2014.

Today, you don’t really have to take action if you have a fangate. The parameter will just always be “true” – as if the user already liked the page.

Here´s one example of code that you could use previously to implement a fangate with the Facebook PHP SDK:

<?php
require 'phpsdk4/autoload.php';
use Facebook\Helpers\FacebookPageTabHelper;
FacebookSession::setDefaultApplication('APP-ID', 'APP-SECRET');
$helper = new FacebookPageTabHelper();
if (!$helper->isLiked()) {
//redirect if not a fan
header('Location: http://www.yourdomain.com/fangate.html');
}
?>
<!doctype html>
<html>

If you need a tutorial about the Facebook PHP SDK (Version 4), just visit my guide here.

There is (or was) another possibility by authorizing a User with the user_likes permission to check if he or she had liked a page – but that option is also now eliminated.

In addition to that, Facebook changed their Platform Policy:

Only incentivize a person to log into your app, like your app’s page, enter a promotion on your app’s page, or check-in at a place. Don’t incentivize other actions. Effective November 5th, 2014, you may no longer incentivize people to like your app’s page
(https://developers.facebook.com/policy)

Basically, that means its not just not possible anymore to create a fangate in a regular way, it is also not allowed according to the Policy.

This rules out all those Like4Like exchange platforms too. They are finally illegal for real.

So why is this a good thing?

For developers, this is great news.

It was always boring to add that loose extra page to the app. We will probably not need to create simple apps with just an input form and the tiny little chance to win something anymore.

Fangate, input form, database storage, “thank you” screen. Boring.

For users, this is great news too. They finally don’t need to do that extra click and they are not forced to like something they possibly don’t really want to like – or they are already fans anyway, which is most likely the case for the majority of participants in a promotion.

Some marketers, hooked on this easy fan tool, will probably tell you that it is not worth it to create apps anymore, and that it got a lot harder to get page Likes without a fangate.

They may be right about the likes, but is it really that important to get the number up at all cost?

With Fangates, a lot of “dead Likes” are generated: Users who only liked the page for a promotion but are not really interested in the brand. They may even remove their like sooner or later, or they just stay as a fan but don’t engage/interact.

How to get Likes after all?

First, it is important to point out that “getting Likes” should not be the main reason to create an app. If you really want to increase your page’s likes at all costs, Facebook has ad products specifically for that use. Go wild.

For apps, for creating engaging campaigns with Facebook fans and customers, forget about simple form input apps.

Instead, let the User do something cool.

Create contests or content apps or small games. Let the User authorize your app (auth gates are still allowed), use the Achievements API and Scores API for games, get familiar with App Notifications – even though they are “beta” right now.

They work great, just make sure not to spam and read the guidelines before using them. You don’t even need to approve any permission for App Notifications :)

One powerful part of the API you can use for your Apps are Open Graph Custom Stories. Keep in mind that it may take some days to get those approved by Facebook. Might be a problem if your deadline is pretty tight.

If your App is good enough, you may not even need to give away some prize – because people will play/use it anyway. And they will share it on their wall.

The death of the fangate shows Facebook’s focus on higher quality user experiences and the elimination of marketing shortcuts.

Instead of fangates…

Create something for the user to remember, and he or she will most likely remember your brand.

Create something of value for the user and he or she will come back, will like your page.

Do something for the existing fans. People should follow a brand because they actually care and like it. Because they want to, not because an app forces them to for taking part in a contest/promotion.

Present high quality content on your page, build serious apps to involve the user and you will get a lot of likes anyway. Real ones, not the ones no one cares about. Quality Likes vs Quantity Likes.

It is all about creativity now ;)

Post Author

Andreas Teufel is a Web Developer at LimeSoda (www.limesoda.com), specialized in Social Media APIs and Vanilla JavaScript. He is in love with Node.js, Gulp and all that jazz....