August 11, 2014, 11:20 AM

Facebook prohibits companies from buying Likes

That means a brand can’t post a video that can only be seen when a consumer shares it with his friends or offer a shopper loyalty points for sharing an invitation to use the brand’s app on Facebook. The new policy takes effect Nov. 5.

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Facebook Inc. says it wants to ensure consumers only click the Like button to endorse content that they actually like. That’s why the social network has updated its platform policy to prohibit brands from requiring consumers to Like a page to get access to content, contests, apps or rewards.

That means a brand can’t post a video that can only be seen when a consumer shares it with his friends or offer a shopper loyalty points for sharing an invitation to use its app on Facebook. 

“To ensure quality connections and help businesses reach the people who matter to them, we want people to Like pages because they want to connect and hear from the business, not because of artificial incentives,” writes Harshdeep Singh, a Facebook software engineer, in a blog post. “We believe this update will benefit people and advertisers alike.”

The policy change marks the end of a fan base-building technique that some marketers call “Like gating.” However, as Facebook has diminished organic posts’ reach—the percentage of consumers who saw a post from a brand they Like fell from 16.0% in February 2012 to 6.5% in March, according to news feed optimization service EdgeRank Checker—the technique has largely fallen out of favor, as companies can market directly to fewer shoppers who have Liked them.

The new policy, which takes effect Nov. 5, will still allow retailers to offer incentives to consumers to log into an app, check in at a physical store or enter a promotion on an app’s page.

The policy change follows a similar move by the social network earlier this year that penalized what it calls “Like-baiting," marketers who ask users to Like, comment or share posts; who post non-original content; and who feature “spammy” links.

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