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Tara West

Using a Facebook Page for your Business: Stay Safe

3rd Jul 2012 Social Media, Facebook, Social Media 5 minutes to read

FacebookFacebook offers a fantastic platform to engage with your potential consumers. Not only is it a fundamental touch-point if your audience members make up some of the 845 million active users on the network, but it’s the perfect place to start a two-way conversation with them. The interactive nature of the site gives marketers an un-missable opportunity to engage with potential consumers, that most other marketing mediums just don’t have.

Most of us use Facebook for personal use, and like to think of ourselves as pretty clued up about what can be done with it; but when it comes to Facebook’s business pages, the game has different rules.

This posts highlights some of the things you should avoid doing on Facebook pages to ensure your page is playing by Facebook’s rules.

Creating Your Facebook Page

Here are some things you need to avoid when creating your Facebook page, to make sure you comply with their Page T&C’s:

Make sure your page doesn’t have a generic name, like the example below has. Facebook dictates that a page can’t consist solely of generic terms:

The name of this page actually breaks another one of Facebook’s regulations too, which is to ensure your page name does not contain character symbols or excessive punctuation.

If your business contains multiple locations or sub-sections, it is important to plan how you are going to structure your Facebook pages from the very start, because once you have named a page and chosen your category it can be tricky to change it.

For example if you called your page ‘Bob’s Burritos’ and then you decided to create individual pages for each of your outlets in different locations, you would not be able to change the location from a generic page to then be specific to an area. As such, you wouldn’t then be able to change it to ‘Bob’s Burritos Southampton’ for instance.

Plan your pages before you start, so you can choose the appropriate category and locations if appropriate.

Your cover image on your Facebook page is a great place to promote your brand – it’s the biggest area of the page so it’s natural to want to make the most of it. Facebook don’t want you to use it for direct promotions though so avoid including details such as your web address, email address, or any other promotional information that should go in the ‘about’ section of your page instead.  You also can’t include details such as 50% off or any information which encourages an interaction, such as ‘like this page’ or ‘share this page’.  You also need to avoid calls to action such as ‘Order online now!’.

Instead of this kind of promotion, try using your cover image as a way of reinforcing your brand image. New Look have done this well by using some striking images that reflect their brand image well. This does not mean including your brand name in your cover photo, but ensuring your image reflects the style and look and feel of your brand:

Promotions & Competitions

If you’ve ever read Facebook Pages T&C’s (and managed to stay awake all the way through) you’ll have noticed that they are very keen to stress that they are not responsible for any promotions which you run via their site. This is understandable, as competitions can go wrong sometimes and Facebook do not want to be responsible every time that happens.

To coincide with this, they also don’t want you to use their functionality to run your promotions on their site. Any promotion featured on a Facebook page cannot use any of Facebook’s own functionality as a means for entering.

So if you have ever asked your users to ‘like’ your status in return for any kind of incentive, you are violating Facebook’s terms of use.

Some brands get around this in a very simple cost-effective manner by asking users to email to enter their competition. One example of a brand who use this method is Malibu UK:

If you run a lot of promotions via Facebook you might want to consider having an App developed which you can manage all your Facebook promotions via. The advantages of this route are that you don’t lose users from your Facebook page when they leave to access their email in order to enter the competition. The likelihood of them returning to your page after entering your competition is much higher. App development can be costly if you are looking for something customised, but there are also off-the-shelf apps available which may be more cost effective depending on your resources.

Winning Gift Cards or Vouchers is not permitted in Facebook Pages T&C’s, so you will need to make sure your prizes and promotions are for products or experiences. We all know cash talks but offering experiences that can’t be bought can also produce great results!

If you often drive further interaction through your page by asking your fans to vote on who should win competitions, you might want to consider getting them to vote for some finalists, and then having a panel or someone within the company to make the final decision. This is because you are not allowed to have users vote as part of any promotion using Facebook’s functionalities such as ‘Likeing’ or sharing in any way. This  is also a good way of avoiding controversy, as by having the final decision made internally you can always state in your own competition terms and conditions that the decision is at your discretion and will be final. This reduced the possibility of any discrepancies.

If you are taking users’ information as part of any promotion, you need to make it clear to the users that they are supplying their details to you as a third party, rather than to Facebook. As with any time when you are collecting users details, it’s also recommended you familiarise yourself with the Data Protection Act to ensure you are using their data lawfully. It is one thing to break Facebook’s rules but it’s another to break the law!

If you are running ads on your Facebook Page, you might want to take a detailed look at Facebook’s advertising Guidelines, as these are a completely different set of rules which your ads need to abide by.

Here is a quick summary from a recent post on Marketing Gum of some of the popular promotions which are actually violating Facebook pages T&C’s

Never ask the user to do the following in order to participate in your promotion:

  • Share content
  • Create their own content and post it to your page or upload it to their own page
  • Comment on a photo, video, status or any other post
  • Vote in a poll created using Facebook
  • Promote the page to their friends

This post covers some of the common violations made by businesses on Facebook, but it’s not an extensive list. To be safe I recommend having a good read through the official T&C’s on their site.

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