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Five ways to stay in play with Facebook marketing
Social media is an SME marketing dream – low expense, huge potential return, a chance to directly engage with customers, minus a costly middle man or third party media platform. It’s little wonder the carrot of driving numbers to Facebook pages and building active communities spurs businesses on to promote themselves on the platform as much as possible.
The problem is, what’s possible on Facebook isn’t always within the network’s own rules, leading to your page being taken down overnight and all that hard work building a community is jeopardised. You can even get into legal trouble in the real world, risking substantial fines.
So let’s look at some of the ways you can find yourself inadvertently and reluctantly sitting on the social media sidelines with your Facebook page either deleted or disabled. The name of the game is Facebook Takedown! No business really wants to play Facebook takedown. For a start, one player has all the cards, not to mention the element of surprise and the final vote on who remains in the game and who doesn’t… .
Your move: You decide to open a page using an alias to connect with a certain demographic of fans. “It’s just a bit of fun,” you think... .
Rules of the game: Facebook demands that you have to use real details, not fake ones.
Result: Facebook takedown!
Fellow ‘offenders’: Fans of cosplay – people who enjoy dressing up as fictional characters – discovered their pages had been removed without warning because they were using aliases. It doesn’t explain why God, Jesus Christ and Abraham Lincoln still have pages, except – unlike Marvel Comics or Disney – they are unlikely to sue Facebook for breach of copyright.
How you could have won: Make sure you use legitimate details. Fake or cartoon profile photos, email addresses that are suspicious, lack of photos or friend activity rings alarm bells with Facebook.
Your move: You try to make friends and follow as many people and other businesses as possible.Rules of the game: Don’t be too enthusiastic, Facebook can view this kind of activity as spamming.
Result: Facebook takedown!
Fellow ‘offenders’: The very friendly David Fagin discovered too many friends is frowned upon when he sent out a raft of friend requests. His page was removed and he had to go through what he called a ‘humiliating ‘checklist’ of boxes, in which you’re forced to admit you’ve been a bad boy and promise not to do it again. He is now suing them for $1 over what he says was a libellous allegation as a matter of principle.
How you could have won: Have a clear strategy for growing your community rather than sending a friend request to everyone you’ve ever met. Let your ‘likes’ grow organically.
Your move: You decide to put more content on your Facebook page.
Rules of the game: Facebook can arbitrarily decide you have breached someone’s copyright if they receive a complaint, even if that complaint is completely unsubstantiated.Result: Facebook takedown!
Fellow ‘offenders’: Earlier this year Facebook targeted a handful of tech bloggers for allegedly breaching copyright, despite not giving them any notification beforehand. The pages were subsequently restored.
How you could have won: Make sure you own all of your content or you have been granted permission to use it by the original author. That way you don’t risk Facebook’s wrath or court action by the creator of the work.
Your move: You decide the cover photo on your business page should have a call to action and maybe even an offer.
Rules of the game: Facebook explicitly says no calls to action, no contact details, no offers, no promos, no advertisements and no coupons on your cover photo.
Result: Facebook takedown!
Fellow ‘offenders’: Just about every business and brand got this wrong when Facebook first released its business pages, including Corona, Volvo and Armani.
How you could have won: Use an image that sums up what your brand stands for, not what it sells.
Your move: You run a promotion or competition on your site asking for ‘likes’ or ‘shares’ to enter. The winner will be announced in a Facebook post.
Rules of the game: Facebook is clear that competitions and promotions cannot be run through the platform or using any of its functionality. You must use a third party app for any comps or promos, such as Wildfire.
Result: Facebook takedown, plus an extra penalty card – you’ve just broken various state laws about running competitions. You may not go straight to jail, but you do risk fines.
Fellow ‘offenders’: Take a little while looking through business or brand pages and you will find plenty of other offenders, all of them risking an overnight removal of their pages, or worse.
How you could have won: Read the Facebook rules, and ask for expert legal help in establishing terms and conditions for your competitions. Once you have them, you can be confident you are not contravening any laws going forward.
Jamie White is Solicitor Director and owner of Pod Legal and practices exclusively in the areas of Intellectual Property, Technology and Social Media Law. He is a Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Queensland and the High Court of Australia, a Registered Trade Marks Attorney, and an Adjunct Teaching Fellow at Bond University.
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