This article was originally published on Social Media Overflow in 2012 or 2013.
I spend a lot of time checking the business pages of local businesses and other businesses that I like on Facebook. Facebook marketing is part of my job, so I’m very critical and observant of what other people do. I’ve found that a lot of these pages are either very boring or the ones that are very active and quite popular are ignoring some of Facebook’s Terms and Conditions and risk getting their pages deleted. I’m not sure that they are all ignoring the terms and conditions on purpose, but some definitely are. I know this because I’ve asked them and they’ve told me “everyone else is doing it” which is true, but it’s not the best way to go about it.
I’m talking about Facebook Contests and Cover Photos.
Facebook contests are a great idea but make sure you make a Facebook app to run the contest. Facebook has deleted pages without warning for major companies for doing this such as FCUK, Cadbury and Pizza Hut in India because they were getting fans to “like” or “comment” on posts as entry to a contest. Facebook is very clear that you are not to do this. You can read the Herald Sun article about those incidents here: Facebook pages at risk of being ripped down.
Facebook made examples of those pages a while ago; there’s nothing to stop them from doing it to someone again and it’s within their right to do so. A lot of pages have been up and running for a few years now, we’ve had Timeline implemented and everyone seems to have settled into that nicely. It would be less fair for Facebook to start punishing people for using these things incorrectly early on, but enough time has passed that I wouldn’t be surprised if they start penalising people. If they do start doing this, it will be hard as there are thousands of pages doing this, probably 75% of pages are still doing things wrong with only some of the really big pages doing things correctly. They can’t just take down nearly all the business pages at once, but it’s better to adapt to their rules than risk losing everything you’ve put into your page for the past few years.
There is going to be some costs involved in creating an app and there are companies out there who will make them for you, I even make them myself for my clients and it only takes me a few hours to set up and implement one (additional time required for any custom artwork and planning etc, there is a lot of planning usually). With an app, you can avoid any legal problems from the contest in terms of Facebook’s guidelines and can still get people to vote for things or submit things, but it is all part of the app. You can even use Facebook ads for the apps (highly recommended) and create the app in a way that encourages people to share the contest. You can also use the apps to get more data such as email addresses that can become part of your mailing list (just mention this in your terms and conditions). There are many, many advantages to this, you can even take video submissions as contest entries.
I’ve written another article that explains Facebook’s contest guidelines line by line to help everyone understand the rules very clearly. If you are reading this I strongly suggest you read that article next.
A lot of brands seem to have caught on with these lately, but a while ago I used to notice sites advertising their sales on there and telling people to like them via their cover photo. Unfortunately, your cover photo is not meant to be a billboard (it would be great if you could put whatever you want up there) but Facebook doesn’t want it to be an advertising space (that’s why you pay for Facebook ads and promoted posts!) and Facebook makes the rules so you, it is in your best interests to follow them.
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Read this carefully, it is pretty straightforward. Basically, just get a nice picture that represents your business. Maybe a staff group photo or a photo of your storefront or the inside of your office… Or something simple involving your logo. It really depends on your business type and feel free to add any holiday themes to it (eg. Christmas, Easter, Australia Day etc).
Here is an example from McDonald’s Australia:
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What is clever about this one (from memory, this isn’t currently their picture) is that their display photo (the classic golden arches) lined up with the fries and became the logo on the packaging so the two pictures overlapped, was quite effective. Though the picture on its own doesn’t quite look right without the M, it’s still a good example. It doesn’t have any calls to action, doesn’t tell you to buy anything, it’s just their slogan.