Facebook Promotion Guidelines. Should We Take it Serious?

In a way, Facebook’s promotions guidelines are like a “No Trespassing” board in an abandoned old house. The board is there but nobody really cares who cross the fence, whether it during the day or night.

Facebook has published these promotions guidelines obviously for a purpose, and as a legit profit-oriented business entity, Facebook has all their rights to make sure that their platform is not being abused by people who are trying to promote their own businesses on Facebook. Attracting millions of users for free and letting brands to communicate with them seems to be the business model for Facebook, so it makes perfect sense for them to restrict what brands can and can’t do on the free Facebook platform. If you want your brand is visible on Facebook, pay the price and buy it. That appears to be the clear standing of Facebook for at least last few months.

People ask, are there any real cases where Facebook actually banned brand pages for violating these guidelines. According to this report Cadbury India’s Bournville brand and FCUK pages got banned by Facebook for violating these guidelines.

But log into your Facebook at any random time and you will see at least two or three brands violating some of these promotions guidelines in broad daylight. Let’s look at some examples.

And this one, not only violating the promotions guidelines but also breaking the rules for how to use your cover photo properly.

Every time I get involved in a discussion about this topic, my stand was always in favor of adhering to the guidelines. However, there were different opinions to say that, if Facebook is not actively penalizing the pages which violate these rules, then there is no point of taking it that too serious.

Point I always highlighted was that, the brands who violate these guidelines are actually risking their brand equity on Facebook. First, there is a remote risk of the entire page getting banded. Second, and more importantly, by violating the ‘house rules’ set by the host of the platform you are playing on, you communicate a message that you are not serious about other people’s rights. Now this is the same attitude shared by those spammers who keep sending you Viagra and Replica watches emailers. They know it’s wrong, but yet they do it because they know they never get penalized for what they are doing. Is that the image you want to create for your brand on Facebook?

Recently I created an opinion poll among Social Media professionals in Sri Lanka to understand their perception about this whole thing. I purposely made the survey anonymous, so that people can respond open mindedly. I’m sure if people are asked to tell their opinion about this in an open forum, everybody would say that they adhere to Facebook guidelines. Let’s see what were the results of the opinion survey.

11 out of 26 respondents (38% majority) said, they always adhere to Facebook promotions guidelines when they run a promotion. Only 2 respondents said, they do not care for these rules at all. It is interesting to see 6 people responding that they actually violate the promotions guidelines because they do not have enough social media budget to afford 3rd party applications to run these promotions. 5 social media professionals from Sri Lanka, said that they are completely unaware of the rules!

Among the people who gave “other” answers, there were some interesting comments. One person said “I Adhere to Facebook Promotions Guidelines When I do a Campaign most of the time. Sometimes I ignore them because it doesn't generate the necessary attention or activity from fans. Besides, I don't like to play by Facebook rules all the time.”. Now this attitude “I don’t want to play by Facebook rules” is exactly the same attitude I earlier mentioned. It’s like you hire a friend’s car for your wedding; scratch it, and then say “I don’t want to play by his rules”. The point is, when you run a promotion on Facebook’s platform, you need to maintain the courtesy of playing by their rules. If you don’t, then there’s no difference between you and those spammers who post links to porn websites, on WordPress blog comments.

Another respondent said “I try to follow. But if not following them is not making a significant impact on the overall performance/result, I dont take them seriously”. If I understood this comment correctly, this person should fall into the category of “I don’t know much about Facebook promotions guidelines”. Because, the respondent seems to be assuming, Facebook promotions guidelines are some sort of “best practices” to improve the impact of your promotions.

In conclusion, I believe now it’s time for Facebook themselves to make a decision on this; whether to enforce these rules or completely to scrap it. They need to make the playing field level for everybody; not letting the shortsighted opportunists to exploit the system, while professional Social Media marketers continue to pay for maintaining the Facebook platform free for everybody to play.

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