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I came across a Facebook app/tab for a brand that required that the person Like the brand before being able to submit the form. I'm used to normal "like-gates" in which a splash screen is shown saying you have to Like the brand before being allowed to fill out the form. However, in this specific case, the Like button was "step 4" on this particular form that didn't have a Like-gate.

Here's an example of the form:

mockup

download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

This seems to go against some of the Like button guidelines; however, does anyone have any feedback on if this is 1) allowed and 2) something that is a good practice?

I have my personal thoughts on this practice; however, I am curious to know if anyone has any data or experience with this type of layout.

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I like Ben Brockas answer, but wanted to add: Would you personally accept this? If this form is asking for customer support, or some other likewise need, this may just be adding insult to injury. If it is requesting additional information, maybe, but still pretty awful to my mind. –  Panky Sep 18 '12 at 23:03
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@Panky My personal opinion of this is that I wouldn't advise since things like this irritate me to no end. However, knowing my opinions don't always align with that of other Facebook users, I wanted to get some other opinions and resources should I'm confronted with such a request myself. –  JamesEggers Sep 18 '12 at 23:36
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More data/opinion is almost always better; but I think the gut feeling you get that this would irritate most users is dead on. –  Panky Sep 18 '12 at 23:44
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What's the point of a separate login process that restricts who can sign up to those with a facebook account, but doesn't use the facebook API for signing up. –  Mathew Foscarini Sep 19 '12 at 0:09
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I honestly think this is really bad practice. Forcing someone to like your page is just bad IMO. –  crmpicco Sep 19 '12 at 12:45
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6 Answers

up vote 74 down vote accepted

They're leveraging Sunk Costs, a powerful psychological effect. Since you've filled out the standard parts of the form you're more inclined to click the Like button; bailing out late means abandoning all the work you've done. Even if the "cost" was something rather minor like this, you're likely to see less of a bounce rate than you would with a form that started with a "like to sign up!" intersital page before the form was filled out.

However, this is definitely a Dark Pattern as it's (ab)using psychological tricks to help the business encourage behavior that's good for them but not really good for the user at all, as Liking a page is now essentially signing up for marketing/shares from that page.

Also note you're excluding users without a Facebook account or who choose not to Like random companies/share your info with them...but that's likely irrelevant to the business decision at work here; those people wouldn't have Liked the company's page anyway. Since the focus is on that, not the user, user goals are abandoned; surely you see the problems this line of thinking can cause.

So, "should" it be done like this? It's a wicked thing to do and I wouldn't recommend it, but it may well increase conversion rates over a form where the "like" was required first. Of course I wouldn't recommend requiring the like at all; it's better to have one engaged user that actually reads your facebook posts and shares them than to have 50 users racing to unlike/hide your facebook posts immediately after signing up.

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+1 for a very balanced response. –  msanford Sep 18 '12 at 20:45
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@msanford just because it's "evil" doesn't mean it doesn't work...and just because it works doesn't mean it's the best thing to do :) –  Ben Brocka Sep 18 '12 at 20:49
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I would go trash the company on facebook, and cancel any accounts I had with that company, so there's that possible reaction to consider as well. –  psr Sep 19 '12 at 0:52
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If I had a facebook account I'd respond by Liking CompanyXAreScum instead. Since I don't I'd have to settle for badmouthing them everywhere I do hang out instead. –  Dan Neely Sep 19 '12 at 15:46
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@DanNeely - seriously, though, I think as a user I'd be pretty miffed about the concept of having to publicly endorse a company I thought was spammy, and let my personal friends think I supported this. It'd be a huge, huge social cost. –  Jimmy Breck-McKye Sep 19 '12 at 15:54
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In addition to the other comments discouraging this, it should not be assumed that the user even has a Facebook account. In this case, the form effectively requires the user to sign up for Facebook, which will almost always amount to an abandoned form.

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Or that those that do have a facebook account want to let it be known publicly that they are using, or better... trying, some app. –  Marjan Venema Sep 19 '12 at 8:47
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No you shouldn't. The only right answer is to provide the best user experience possible. Un-needed extra steps, no matter how small, are unacceptable. Extra un-needed steps that feel, and ARE evil to any degree are further unacceptable.

Is it a good idea from a business perspective? Doesn't matter, bad UX is bad UX. Period.

There are further deeper reasons this has big pluses and minuses from a business perspective, but that is not what UX is about.


That said. The option to 'like' is fine. This issue is requiring it. Personally I don't necessarily want all my friends to see that I signed up for X or receive future communications from X. As a result, I may choose to not sign up at all, even if I originally wanted to. Privacy is a real issue; so practical form completions may actually go down, in the name of marketing.

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Just because I submit to some newsletter or support forum or whatever does not mean I actually like that company. Someone is going to be added to my adblock list in this case, even if that renders something else less usable. It's like having to hug a salesperson when all you really wanted was a car or your groceries. And if it is inevitable the reaction may rather be "I need a shower" than "I'll buy here again".

Just don't forcibly link two distinct things. If users like your company, they will hit the like button themselves, or even actively look for your facebook profile to do so.

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In my opinion, definitely not ! Not only it goes against good practices, but what would be the reason why a user would be forced to like something before signing uop ?? Unless it is a dictatorial brand, nobody would do it! It's like you would not accept any potential critics from your users or so.

Furthermore, and though there are many internet users who do have a Facebook account, there are many other who just DO NOT have any Facebook account, which means you would turn your site down on these people as well.

In a nutshell, never do it unless you want to kill your site.

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This is a very subjective answer. It seems to be purely your own opinion. "Nobody would do it", "never do it unless you want to kill your site". These are subjective points. Clearly it doesn't kill sites because this practice does exist and is in use on flourishing sites. Also, you say it "goes against good practices". What are these good practices, and where do we find out about them? While we welcome expert opinions on this site it's not really the best place to post your subjective opinions unless you can back them up with research as the OP requested, I'm afraid. –  JonW Sep 26 '12 at 7:50
    
Thanks for contributing an answer to User Experience - Stack Exchange! •Please be sure to answer the question. Provide details and share your research! But avoid … •Asking for help, clarification, or responding to other answers. •Making statements based on opinion; back them up with references or personal experience. If you have to start your answer with "In my opinion," then it's not an answer at all within these guidelines. –  Yes I use MUMPS Mar 19 '13 at 0:11
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This post does not cite any references or sources. Please help improve this post by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.

It is less noticeable embedded in a list so there will be less resistance to complying with the request. In addition the default action on a form is to fill out the fields so the user will be less likely to refuse due to less attention being given to evaluating the request than to completing the task (i.e. filling out the form). Higher compliance rates would be expected as a result.

However, a dedicated splash-screen like-gate may be more effective in those that comply (press the like button) due to the commitment-consistency mechanism: Making a public commitment increases the likelihood of (future) behavioral consistency with that commitment (see Cialdini's book Influence for more). The more public the commitment, the greater the consistency. A splash-screen is likely a more public commitment.

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-1 As this answer stands now it's hard to know what you're really answering. Please clearify how this answer relates to the "like us on feacebook" question! –  Benny Skogberg Mar 18 '13 at 7:26
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