Are you pissing Facebook off? What every small business needs to know…

by on August 22, 2011

Facebook contests for small businessFacebook is a part of the online marketing arsenal for many a small business. It’s free, it’s where people hang out, it’s fun.

But there are things you have to watch out for. Even innocent Facebook mistakes can have a huge impact on your business, if you get called out on them.

The proper type of page or profile

This definitely deserves a mention as I still see many small businesses getting this part wrong.

You cannot have a regular Facebook profile for your business. It is for individuals ONLY.

You cannot run your business through groups. Groups are only about sharing hobbies and interests. You cannot promote a business in any regular way in a group.

The great majority of small business owners need a proper Facebook business page.

Yes, it’s annoying and quite a bit of work to make the switch. You will probably lose some people along the way. But it’s really not an option.

Be wary of contests & promos

Update Aug 2013: The rules around Facebook promotions and contests have changed! You can run them without a 3rd party app. See the details here.

As I was planning the internet marketing contest I’m running right now, I was originally thinking about using Facebook as the platform.

As I was mulling it over, this post fell into my inbox with all kinds of details about running contests on Facebook. Talk about right timing! Thanks Mari & the universe 🙂

You can use your Facebook page and Facebook ads to promote a contest running on your website or blog that does not involve any sort of Facebook activity. I originally understood that it only involved asking people to “like” your page, but it involves ANY type of Facebook activity such as sharing.

You ARE able to reward your Facebook likers with special promos and prizes. For example, lots of small businesses offer monthly prizes to their likers. You can do this – you just have to do it the Facebook way, and use one of their apps.

In other words, a Facebook contest using “likes” or any other sort of Facebook action must be run through a 3rd party Facebook approved option, such as:

  • WildFire –  Basic services start at $5 per campaign + $0.99 per day (but most businesses would want more expensive plans for their additional features and customization).
  • Easy Promos –  If you have less than 5,000 likes, you can try out the basic option free the 1st time, $15 per campaign after than. There are pricier options for pages with more likes.
  • North Social – Their most popular option runs $29.99/month and gives you access to all their Facebook apps.

There are plenty of other options. If you’ve used any of the above, or have used a different option, let us know in the comments what your experience was.

Here are the official Facebook contest rules (scroll down to the “Promotions” section). They can be difficult to understand at times, so when in doubt, don’t include Facebook in your online marketing promotions.

Being named a Facebook spammer

This is a newer development that I have been hearing about lately.

If you post the same or a similar post too often on other pages, Facebook can red flag you as a spammer, and prevent you from posting on or tagging other pages for 15 days.

Wouldn’t we all like to reduce Facebook spam? The only issue with this is that it is trapping legitimate business owners who are using Facebook for their marketing in an ethical, non-spammy way.

One example comes from Karen Gunton, over at build a little biz. She wrote a blog post about great email newsletter examples. So she tagged the 10 businesses featured on Facebook, to let them know about the post. This was considered spamish.

Avoid this by not copying and pasting the same message over and over again to different pages. Don’t do a ton of messaging or sharing at one sitting. Spread out your Facebook activity so that you’re not doing a whole bunch of stuff at once.

The risk of non-compliance with Facebook

If you are thinking, OK thanks Martina, I appreciate the heads up, but I’ll just wait until Facebook actually catches me out and lets me know I’m in violation before making any changes…

be warned!

There is no series of warning communications from Facebook. They will simply delete your presence or punish you. You will not be given the chance to explain. I have definitely heard of this happening to other businesses, who have lost everything because they were not playing by the rules.

Have you run into any trouble marketing your small business on Facebook? Any questions about the rules? Any experience using 3rd party apps? Meet you in the comments!

Comments, likes and tweets are always appreciated! Did I mention that I LOVE your feedback?

Image source: tungphoto /

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

karen gunton August 22, 2011 at 7:49 pm

thanks for sharing my ‘story’ about getting blocked. hopefully it helps someone else avoid the same thing. (i have to admit i was so shocked to get called spammy by facebook. i am the one that teaches other biz owners not to be spammy!! i got all red faced and embarrassed, alone in my living room!! haha.)
i will note that i think fb is being a bit glitchy with the spam block – many people have been blocked for replying to as little as 3 posts on their wall. so it is my feeling that this will smooth out and we can go back to posting normally on fb. remember: fb doesn’t care about your intentions – they have algorithims that look at quantity, timing & repetition. and it is important to consider: would others consider my actions as spam-ish? it is not worth losing potential customers if the answer is yes. =)


Martina August 23, 2011 at 9:24 am

Thanks for popping by Karen! You were actually the inspiration for this post. I thought, my god, if Facebook thinks that you’re spammy, the rest of us are in trouble 🙂 All joking aside, you story does show how even someone who is using Facebook in all the right ways can get caught out now. I hope that you’re right about things being glitchy. It seems crazy to get blocked by replying to stuff on your own Page. I guess we’ll have to wait and see…


Navine August 24, 2011 at 10:37 am

Good post. It is so hard top keep up with facebook rules these days. Yet in the same token facebook has had many glitches that makes using it frustrating. I have gone for months without being able to tagg in my post.


Martina August 25, 2011 at 6:44 am

Wow! Months with no tagging. That’s really unfortunate Navine! Hopefully things will get resolved for you soon.


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