Like It or Not … Coastal Contacts Case Sets Guidelines for ‘Like-Gating’ on Facebook, pp. 113-116

Natasha T. Brison

Social media provides brands with “personal, trusted, and direct” connectivity to consumers (Drury, 2008, p. 277). Through social media, brands are able to target specific consumer demographics about new and existing products, thereby increasing the likelihood of purchase of those products. With more than 1 billion active users (“Facebook Newsroom,” 2012), Facebook has become a leader in social media and an important vehicle through which sport marketers connect their brands with consumers. From the London 2012 Olympics alone, brands saw significant growth in fan interaction on Facebook. For example, Coca-Cola experienced a 126% increase in Facebook users, and Visa grew 67% (O’Malley, 2012). One popular method for marketing through Facebook is a process called like-gating. Like-gating encourages consumers to like a company or brand on Facebook, often in exchange for something of value (i.e., a coupon for a free sample) (Aronica, 2011). The result is a vast increase in the number of consumers who have chosen to associate themselves with a brand through Facebook. A recent decision from the Council of Better Business Bureau’s (CBBB) National Advertising Division (NAD) in Coastal Contacts, Inc. (2011) (Coastal) determined that Facebook likes are general social endorsements of companies or brands, and like-gating practices may be deceptive in instances where consumers rely on Facebook likes to make purchase decisions.