Diversity is key when it comes to driving traffic to your website, but social media, in particular Facebook, is in the driver’s seat for many brands.
Facebook can assist in multiple digital efforts: engagement, search, advertising and brand awareness, in general. This is why many companies assign their most valuable resources (time and money) to this social network, but Facebook reserves the right to reject or remove Pages for any reason. And they do – to not only the chagrin of Page managers, but also to the detriment of profits and reputations.
Here are real-world examples of how to disappear from Facebook.
Offer Lottery Winnings, Offend the Masses
New Zealand’s gourmet burger joint, Velvet Burger, likes to push the digital envelope. Among its Facebook acceptable posts, such as promoting its vegetarian burger options, supporting its local rugby team and sharing company-produced memes, were a couple posts that got the trendy brand in hot water. So much so that one tactic led to its Page being deleted (see image) and the other heeded an official company apology.
Let’s look at where Velvet Burger went wrong. In the case of its promotion to share lottery winnings (if the company won) with anyone who shared the post, the Page violated multiple stipulations in Facebook’s Promotions terms, including:
1. Promotions on Facebook must be administered within Apps on Facebook.com, either on a Canvas Page or a Page App.
2. Promotions on Facebook must include: a complete release of Facebook by each entrant or participant; acknowledgement that the promotion is no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook; and disclosure that the participant is providing information to [disclose recipient(s) of information] and not to Facebook.
3. You must not use Facebook features or functionality as a promotion’s registration or entry mechanism. For example, the act of liking a Page or checking in to a Place cannot automatically register or enter a promotion participant.
(Note: For an example of how to run a compliant Facebook “Like” contest, check out BioSilk Haircare’s current promotion.)
After this debacle, it appears that Velvet Burger was able to get its nearly 10,000 fans back on board (today it has 12,796 Likes), but it may have taken nearly two months to sort out. The brand regularly posts daily, sometimes even twice a day, and there is a notable brand absence between March 29, 2012 and May 18, 2012 (with no posts whatsoever). Additionally, its official Page has a born date of 2011, which most likely means the company regained all of its previous standings.
(Editor’s Note: Velvet Burger was contacted via Facebook for this article, but seeing that it is headquartered in New Zealand, which is 18 hours ahead of Website Magazine’s central time zone, a representative did not get back to us in time.)
As for the aforementioned company apology, Velvet Burger managed to apparently stay out of Facebook’s radar with a controversial ad generated through a Page post, but offend consumers in the process. This is because the ad made light of the infamous domestic violence case between Chris Brown and Rhianna, as it stated “beatings by chris brown” with the post, “come down and ‘smash a burger.’” As seen in the previously linked articles, the company pulled the ad and replaced it with an apology. Velvet Burger’s Facebook administrator, which one article on the situation claims to be a college student, clearly thought he or she was being clever, but Facebook’s Advertising Guidelines state that ads must not offend users. Although defining offensive is overly subjective, Facebook continues that “ads may not be shocking, sensational or disrespectful, or portray excessive violence.” It’s important to note that Page post content are considered Ads and commercial content by Facebook and fall under its Advertising rules.
Velvet Burger, in this editor’s mind, absolutely did the best thing for its brand when it apologized for the ad on its Page, rather than deleting it and not referring to it. In fact, that is what Intel instructs its employees to do.
Raise Money for Charities – The “Wrong” Way
By its very name, Hell Pizza is a bit unorthodox, and the brand certainly plays up its namesake with its marketing. But that’s not the reason why the U.K. pizza chain was deleted (and ultimately re-established) by Facebook, in 2012. Several reports, tell us that Hell Pizza sponsored a charity, The Little Lotus Project, and pledged $1 for every Like the Page received.
“Very soon after that the page was taken down,” wrote TheMoshHouse Director, Jon Emile Randles. “To this day we still don’t know how we offended; was it by promoting ‘Likes’ to a page? Or because we were raising money for a charity directly on Facebook? Or because Facebook’s spiders picked up on keywords and they pulled the trigger first to ask questions later?”
By Randles’s report, the company filled out multiple forms, but after weeks of no action by Facebook, it was meeting someone who worked for Facebook Australia at a barbecue that got the company’s page turned back on.
Brands without Facebook connections, should be wary of any “Like us and we’ll do ___” promotions if they are not administered within Apps on Facebook.com, on a Canvas Page or a Page App. Another reason might have been that Hell Pizza’s promotion did not set clear rules. For example, when BioSilk and CHI representatives appeared on Celebrity Apprentice this year, the winning team’s project manager would benefit from a $1 donation for each new fan who Liked these Pages between March 24-March 31 at 9 p.m. EST. There was also a maximum set of $50,000. It’s still really unclear as to the reason for Hell Pizza’s ban, but learn from its agency’s mistake and assign multiple people within your enterprise to track Facebook’s T&Cs. And, always add, “This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.”
Make Enemies with Your Competitors
Facebook provides two different ways to report Pages to its staff (see image), but either mistaken or malicious complaints can get a company removed from the network, which could have been the case for this blogger whose Page was deleted in 2011.
“Although I absolutely love what happens on our FB page, what's the point when even one of the most spectacular communities on the Web can be ‘removed’ on a whim, on the say-so of one competitor?” the blog stated in 2011.
Additionally, a quick search on Quora, turns up the following question, “How can I report my competitors to Facebook if they violate FB’s promotion guidelines?” People suggest reporting the page to Facebook continually and asking friends to mark the Page as spam.
The moral of the digital story is to follow the rules and color in between the lines. The most white-hat companies can make mistakes, but the Facebook Pages Terms are available – in black and white – for an enterprise to study.