Requiring site visitors to share or like your content on social networks to gain access to premium content is a great way to increase the reach of your content.

Many businesses are "gating" their online content as part of their marketing strategy, collecting email addresses and personal information about their site visitors in order to develop profiles of their customers or leads.

This is a strategy that can also be applied to your social media marketing efforts - why not ask users to share your content or follow your social profiles in order to access premium content?

This strategy becomes even more important when you consider that social signals are becoming a component of your site's Google rankings. Increasing your company's social shares and followers by gating content is an effective way of boosting the shares your original content receives.

There are two options when it comes to social content gating:

  1. Require users to share your content on a social network before they receive access.
  2. Require that users Like you on Facebook, or Follow you on Twitter to access your content.

Choosing the Right Content to Gate

In order for your social-gated content tactics to be successful, you have to choose the right kind of content to gate. The quality of your content must be higher than what you typically give away for free on your site - more than just a blog post. Here are a few things to consider when deciding what kind of content you should gate:

  • Is your piece really "premium" content that can't be found anywhere else? Is it a neatly packaged and presented eBook, whitepaper, infographic, case study or presentation with valuable information?
  • Why would someone share this content or follow your social profiles in order to gain access? Will they be comfortable sharing with their social networks that they've downloaded this piece from your site?
  • Was your content piece created with a specific customer persona in mind? Will anyone actually download your content?

How to Implement Share or Like Gating

One of the easiest ways to implement these gating techniques is through the use of WordPress Plugins. Here are a few of note to check out:

Like, Google +1 or Tweet to Unlock
Social Content Locker for WordPress
WP Share to Unlock

Or, a basic Like to Download button embedded on your page will work too.

Supporting Your Social Gating Strategy

It's not enough to just have users liking and sharing your content - you've got to have the social strategy to follow it up with. Once you've increased your follower count, you now have the opportunity to market to these users on an ongoing basis. After you've launched your social gating campaign, make sure you have a supporting strategy outlined for your company's profiles.

Remember - social gating is great for impacting your social shares or follower counts, but it won't have any impact on your overall marketing efforts unless you're actually using your company's social channels.

Consider the types of Tweets or Facebook posts you'll be making that will be targeted to those same users who downloaded your premium content. Offer them educational resources related to your premium content piece or try to engage with them on a more personal level to be successful.