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Well folks, it was fun while it lasted, but Facebook has decided to take down the like gates. Sources including AllFacebook.com indicate that starting in November, users can no longer be forced to like a page before seeing its content or entering a promotion. While the announcement may be painful to some, it shouldn’t be a surprise: like gates have been decreasing in popularity for some time now. So if you have been relying on them increase followers, it’s time to find a new strategy for social growth.

A Welcome Change?
Regardless of how widespread the practice, forcing people to like a page before they’ve even seen its content is gaming the system. It makes the user’s experience of the page less fluid. And many visitors faced with a like gate simply choose to leave.

It used to be that Facebook Page owners who wanted to respect their users’ choices and not use like gates were at a disadvantage. Their like count grew slowly and they fell behind their competitors. By banning like gates, Facebook has leveled the playing field. Pages will have to work harder to earn likes and follows after users have read what they have to say. And that’s good news, especially for small businesses that have loyal customers and a unique voice.

Moving Forward
While like count is an easy metric to focus on, it isn’t an end unto itself. How much is it worth if a user comes to your page, clicks the like button, and then leaves right away? It was easy to use like gates to increase a page’s like count without actually doing any good for the business. Without like gates, it may be harder to get likes, but it’s still possible to meet your real business goals.

The best way to generate engagement on Facebook is to improve the way you post. By posting the right content at the right time, you can generate more leads and more loyalty, even if you have fewer likes.

Here are three steps for resetting your social media strategy in a world without like gates:

1. Step back and think about the real reason for your social presence. What are all those likes and shares really leading to? In some businesses, social promotions lead directly to sales. For others, a social presence is a way to generate awareness, create leads, or increase repeat buyers. You should be regularly asking customers how they heard about you and evaluating which marketing channels are working for you. After all, if you’re not sure how much business social media generates for you, why are you worried about your page’s like count?

2. Make sure you’re dedicating the right amount of time to your social presence. Too little (especially if it’s at irregular times) and your page will quickly get stale. Too much (especially if you’re just starting) and you might burn yourself out or get disappointed at the slow pace of results. Building a business on social media is a long-term process: slow and steady wins the race. For most small businesses, half an hour here and there is just right. That’s enough time to check the previous week’s engagement, figure out if there’s something you need to change about your strategy, and schedule another week’s worth of posts.

3. Experiment with different posting strategies. Posts that get liked and shared by your closest followers will receive a big bump up in organic reach and get displayed even more broadly on Facebook. So it’s important to try a mix of different post types: images, text, and links. And also try different types of post content: special offers, product information, customer testimonials, industry-specific links, and even just personal notes.

After several weeks of experimenting with posts and gathering data, you should have a better understanding of the kinds of posts that work with your audience and how much business they lead to.

Do you regularly get valuable customers from Facebook? If so, it might be worth moving on to the next step: advertising on Facebook. By boosting your posts, you can reach an even larger audience of the right potential customers.

About the Author: Adam Solove is the Engineering Lead for the Pagemodo team. In his free time he likes to—no, wait, the kids are crying again. Ask him about his free time in a few months.

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