Know the rules or risk having your Facebook Page shut down (part 1)

 

Facebook Cover Photo Rules – are you breaking them?

shh woman with finger in front of mouth - keep a secret breaking the rules

 

Fact: Fan Pages do get shut down for breaking Facebook’s Terms of Service (TOS).

 

The usual culprit? Either a cover photo or a contest that, whether knowingly or not, breaks Facebook’s rules. You know what they say – “ignorance is no excuse”. Neither is “but everyone else is doing it”.

This is Part 1 of series that looks at the most common Facebook offences. Today I’ll discuss cover photos, and in Part 2 I’ll cover contests and sweepstakes. Part 3 will deal with Pages vs Personal Profiles. Part 4 will cover all the other random bits (like spamming, using screenshots, etc).

 

Social media marketing can be a very effective and cost-effective way to increase your sales, develop trust, and increase client loyalty. But like anything else in life, you just need to know the rules and how they affect your business.

 

The photo I’m referring to is the big panoramic one at the top of your Facebook Page. Does your Facebook cover photo look something like this?

 

Facebook Timeline cover photo with sales discount, arrow, and website - that are breaking facebook rules

 

Then you are a very bad person and will go straight to Hell! Just kidding. I’m not judging you. But Facebook is, and if you are breaking their rules, then your Page might be at risk.

 

Facebook states: “We reserve the right to reject or remove Pages for any reason.”

 

As the Page owner (if you set up a Facebook Page you are automatically the Page admin) or collaborator, you need to be aware of the guidelines or risk having your Facebook Page shut down. Even if you have hired a social media strategist or community manager to run your Facebook Page and its content for your, make sure that THEY know the rules, or it could be you that suffers for their ignorance. (Sometimes those $100/month “social media managers” are not worth hiring. Just sayin.)

With over 1 billion people using Facebook, it’s their house, so if you want to use their social network – and for most businesses that’s where you audience is – then you have to play by their rules. And that’s only fair. But if you break those rules, they don’t give any warning before they shut you down. Your page will just vanish, and in most cases no amount of begging and pleading will get it back.

 

* NOTE: (November 2012) My friend Cas recently attended a Facebook Small Business Bootcamp in Australia, and according to Nick Bowditch of Facebook Australia who spoke at the conference it’s a myth that Pages get instantly shut down. They always give 3 warnings. Read more myth busters on Cas McCullough’s Content Marketing Cardiology blog.

 

That means all of the time, and money if you have used Facebook ads or paid staff to manage your Facebook Page, will be wasted if your Page is closed down and you loose all those hundreds or thousands of fans you have worked so hard to get. It has happened to giant corporations and small businesses all over the world, so don’t kid yourself that that makes a difference either.

When you set up a Page, you check a box that says you agree to abide by Facebook’s terms and conditions. Just because you don’t actually read it, doesn’t mean those rules don’t exists.

For those of you wondering “what the heck rules am I breaking?”, be sure to read Facebook’s cover photo rules.

But just to keep it simple, here is an infographic by my friend Eden at The Social Garden that helps to explain the rules in easy terms.

 

 Facebook Cover Photo rules infographic

 

Your Facebook Page should express who you are as a brand. It should not be a billboard, advertisement or beg people to like your Page . Facebook doesn’t like that because let’s face it, they want you to pay for Facebook ads.  I think that’s only fair – they have provided a valuable FREE platform, but at the end of the day, Facebook is a business, so their goal is to make money.

 

I admit that it would be wonderful if everyone played by the rules, and everything in life was fair. Guess what? It isn’t. Suck it up buttercup.

 

My job is to give you the benefit of my knowledge and expertise. That is, to tell you the rules. And maybe find some creative ways to work with (or around) them. Your job is to decide if you want to abide by Facebook’s terms of service, or if you’d rather risk getting your Facebook Page shut down by breaking the rules.

 

Think of it like speeding – everyone does it, but it’s still against the law, and everyone knows it. Drive over the speed limit and you risk getting a ticket. But it’s your choice whether or not to do it.

 

Do you agree with Facebook’s rules about cover photos?

Will you take a chance and break the rules?

 

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