Most business owners are not familiar with all of the rules for using Facebook, especially as they move the goal posts so often!
But in the Facebook “court of law”, ignorance is no defence.
Every single day I see at least one person breaching one of these 3 and a half rules, and every day someone gets banned from using Facebook or “slapped” – where your user rights are removed in one or more areas.
Are you at risk of being banned from Facebook? Here’s the 3.5 most popular ways business owners are risking their access to Facebook every day;
#1: Creating a personal account in the name of a business
This is an easy one to check… if you have a Facebook account in the name of your business, that you “add friends” to, it’s an illegal account.
If you are in a Facebook group, and you see a business account posting in the group, it’s an illegal account. Business pages can’t interact in groups so the illegals stand out a mile off.
It’s simple to remedy – just go into Account Settings, and change the name of the account to your given name – then click on the downward facing triangle in the top blue bar of Facebook and “Create a Page” to set up a business page and be legal again.
Not only is a personal account being used by a business in breach of Facebook’s Terms of Service, in having an illegal account you’re pi$$ing off the very people you’re trying to attract.
You’re being perceived as a gamer… a cheater of the system… because you are getting your posts seen by more people than those using Facebook legally. That’s because Edgerank isn’t apply so rigidly to personal account posts.
#1.5: Not using your given name
By the way, I’ve highlighted “given name” above because it’s also illegal to have a personal account in any name other than your given name – as shown on your identity documents. If I was to add “Queen” to my personal name, so I showed up as “Veronica Queen Pullen”, I would be in breach.
#2: Promoting an illegal Facebook contest
The rules around Facebook contests were relaxed middle of last year, but it is still illegal to ask people to share your post on their timeline to enter your contest.
You know those posts that say
“To win [insert prize] simply like this page and share this post”
… and loads of people do? Asking for the like is legal, but asking for the share is illegal.
Besides the legalities, any business owner who offers a prize in exchange for Facebook page/post likes is bonkers. Any prize you offer – whether physical product or your time – carries a cost to your business.
So having “spent money” to promote your business with a contest, why wouldn’t you want to claim the benefits for yourself? A Facebook like only benefits Facebook, not you.
The latest figures show that after all the recent Edgerank updates, only about 6% of your page likers are seeing your page posts in their newsfeed. (Yep you read that right – 6 in every 100 people who have liked your page see what you post organically; e.g. with no paid promotion)
However, if you make collecting entrants’ email addresses one of the conditions of entry to your contest, then you can send your marketing via email and get it seen by lots more than 6/100. Plus when Facebook inevitably goes pfft, it won’t matter, because you’ve still got your email database. Your business will survive.
You’ll need to use a Facebook app (such as WooBox, Offerpop, or one of the many others out there) to run a Facebook contest legally, but the benefits will keep coming through for the long term – unlike an illegal contest where (assuming you don’t get caught and banned!) there will only ever be a short term gain.
#3: Scraping Facebook’s user data
I’ve included this one, even though it’s still pretty new, and most people aren’t aware it can even be done yet.
You need 3rd party software to scrape data – 2 that I know of are Bleu Pages and Social Lead Freak. They work by accessing your Facebook account, and pulling off the user IDs (UIDs) for members of Facebook groups you belong to, or pages that you’ve liked.
You get to download a .csv file of all the UIDs, and when you upload the .csv file into Power Editor as a Custom Audience, you can target your ads at only those Facebook users.
Now, to be fair, it’s pretty cool. You’re a member of a few groups alongside a bunch of your ideal clients, and with the help of a bit of software and 30 seconds of your time, you’re able to show your ads in their newsfeed too.
However, it’s against Facebook’s Terms of Service, and as such leaves you at risk of getting a ban.
Here’s the thing… as yet, I’ve not heard of anyone being banned for scraping data. Ads that are being targeted to scraped audiences are being approved, and it looks like a great l’il loophole to take advantage of.
But this time last year, Facebook weren’t taking action against Administrators of pages running illegal contests… but this year they are.
So if you’re scraping data now, there’s a good chance you’re going to get away with it for a while – although you may not. I have no inside knowledge, nor am I psychic. It’s a risk, and it’s up to you if you want to take it.
It’s like getting on a train without a ticket… the first time you manage to get away with it, so you do it again… and you get away with it again. But one day you won’t, and then you’ll have to do “the time”, having done “the crime”.
Over to you… were any of these breaches news to you? Are you seeing a lot of illegal business accounts or contests at the moment? What is your opinion of business owners who use Facebook illegally? Lemme know by leaving me a comment below
And please do share this post using the share buttons below. The more business owners we can reach with this post, the more we can educate and support to use Facebook more profitably.