Facebook could be considered the breakthrough social media platform. Yes, there may have been a few before it - MySpace and the like - but none had the flocking of the masses that Facebook experienced. When Facebook started adjusting the site to allow for business promotion, companies raced to set up Facebook Pages to engage with their 'fans' - but how many of those companies or their representatives took the time to carefully examine the Facebook Page Terms and ensure that their page content adhered to the explicit guidelines? Judging by the guideline transgressions I see in my news feed on a daily basis, not very many!
On 1 July 2013 Facebook updated their Facebook Page Terms to remove their previous limitation of a maximum 20% of text allowed on cover images for business pages. (Did you know they even had that rule in the first place?)
Social media is an integral element of inbound marketing and as such can you imagine the impact of your Facebook page, along with all your fans you've built up, disappearing from the network giant without warning. Yup, that's what they do if they find you in violation of their terms. And all it takes is one disgruntled 'fan', an ex-employee with a chip on their shoulder or someone who has taken offence to something you've posted to get you into trouble. Don't be caught on the wrong side of Facebook's moderation process, be sure to read the fine print and get up to speed with the guidelines. Here are examples of classic mistakes being made by Facebook page admins that are bound to get them banned!
My House, My Rules
The way Facebook sees it you're a long-staying guest in their mansion. Any terms that you set for your Facebook page (FB page) must comply with and not conflict with their Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, Data Use Policy and general Page terms. Essentially they are saying that by default as soon as you set up a FB page you agree that you will comply to all rules, giving them full permission to kick you out if you break any of them. Yes, that little check box that says you're absolutely certain you have have read the terms and conditions and agree to all that we all so hastily tick and get on with the rest - turns out those T's and C's are rather important to know after all.
Posting Porn ... and other NSFF (Not Safe For Facebook) Content
Ok, so I suppose the porn thing is pretty self explanatory but you'd be surprised by some of their other content stipulations that aren't as straight-forward or commonsensical as you would think. An aggrieved ex-trainee leaked official Facebook content moderation documentation that details exactly what is allowed and what will be deleted. The guide advises the moderator to ignore images of deep flesh wounds or excessive blood, but delete if internal organs, bone, muscle or tendons are visible. Photoshopped people (unless positive enhancements) will be removed. While posting forbidden content every now and then won't get you banned (the content will simply be removed), Facebook do reserve the right to shut down your profile for repeated offenses.
Lame Competition or Promotion Mechanics
Update: 28 August 2013
Facebook has just announced they have lifted the rule that requires business pages to manage competitions using 3rd party applications and are you now allowed to make use of Facebook mechanisms for entry. You can read the announcement here. We'd still recommend managing your brand promotions by using 3rd party applications, however, as this comes across far more professional and appealing than 'clumsy' in page or post related competitions.
Many of the bigger brands and companies get this, but we see many smaller businesses making big mistakes on this front. Facebook is very specific about how promotions, contests and competitions are run and "like this", "share this" or "comment on" are all big no-no's. A 3rd party application must be used for entry, not Facebook functionality. You are allowed to hide the entry form behind your page, meaning that the person would have to like your page to access the promotion, but data collection must happen via an app and the mere act of liking your page is not allowed to be the entry requirement. Similarily you are not allowed to advise winners via Facebook messaging or status updates. If you are going to run a competition on Facebook, make sure it follows the guidelines as this is the one most pages get shut down for!
Oh and P.S. if you happen to think that Facebook don't or won't take action - here are stories of some brands that have been banned for failure to comply. No appeal. No "ok, well considering you're really sorry we'll restore your page". Gone ... for good!