A technique that’s once again growing in popularity among social media marketers is the use of Fangates on Facebook. The tactic fell out of favor when Facebook switched to the Timeline view, but applications are helping the technique resurge. The technique makes it so that certain pieces of content on a Facebook page can only be viewed by users who are Fans of a page. This is beneficial for promotions or contests where the ultimate goals is to increase the fanbase of a page. By placing entry forms, coupons, or exclusive content behind a Fangate, visitors of the page are given a clear incentive to become fans of a page. Also, exclusive content is an effective way to increase the sense of community among the fans of a page because it shows that an organization is appreciative of their fans and gives the fans something that only they have access to.
When to Use a Fangate
Some people believe in the saying, “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth overdoing,” but this is certainly not the case with Fangates. Though it may seem advantageous to make all of a page’s content only available to fans, it isn’t possible (with the current Timeline view) and hiding everything would be more harmful than helpful. A Facebook timeline is always public. Hiding content behind a Fangate can only be used on the Tabs of a Facebook page. Also, unless the company in question is the “Secret Society of Super-Secret Secret Stuff”, audiences will expect to see some information on a Facebook page and would be skeptical of an organization that seemed to be hiding something.
Another limitation of Fangates is that they don’t work well with mobile devices. At present, Facebook Mobile doesn’t allow Tabs to be shown. And since it is only possible to Fangate content that is in a Tab, this makes it harder for users on mobile devices to see the content.
There are ways around this issue, but each has its own disadvantages. The easy solution is to have the user use the link to the Fangate tab on their mobile browser and then request the desktop site. This is simple, but it requires the user to be somewhat techno savvy and it may require more steps than the user is will to perform. The other option would be for the Facebook page owner to set up the content on their own site in a special way. A special link would take the user to a website that would have a Facebook window specially designed to show the Fangate on any device. The disadvantage to this is that it requires a lot of coding (or the use of a paid third-party application) and it still requires the user to leave the Facebook site or mobile app which some users will not want to do. So while there are ways around it, it’s still disadvantageous to use Fangates for content that will mostly be viewed via mobile devices.
How to Setup a Fangate
Setting up a Fangate is easier than many would think. In essence, it only requires two pieces of content and an application to hide/reveal content based on the user’s Like status. The first piece of content that is needed is the item that will be hidden by the Fangate (e.g. a coupon). The second item is what non-Fans will see when they first reach the Tab with the Fangate. This item should inform the user that they are in the right place to get the content and show them where to click so they can become Fans and see the content.
Getting an application to handle the Fangate is also fairly simple. Most of the third-party apps that can be used for Facebook promotions (e.g. Wildfire or Offerpop) offer Fangate tools. An advantage of using third-party apps is that they normally have mobile-compatibility tools built in (i.e. links to a microsite). However, these tools cost money each month, which would mean an recurring monthly cost to keep the content up. This may not be a problem for promotions that are designed to be short-term and to bring in income. But for content like exclusive photos or videos that are intended to stay up for long periods of time, paying each month may not be an acceptable option. It’s possible to setup a Fangate without using a paid application. The Facebook app, Static HTML, is free to use and can be used to easily setup a Fangate. The only issue that it offers no support for mobile devices.
Fangates are an effective way to increase the fanbase of a Facebook page. Not only does it provides incentive for the desired action (i.e. content that is only available to fans), it also strengthens the ties between an organization and their fans by making them feel special by giving them exclusive content. But always remember that there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Fangates need to be used thoughtfully, or organizations risk losing more potential fans than they gain.