Rules - FacebookEvery day businesses make mistakes on social media that could in fact cost them their fans – and their reputation.

And, from 15th January 2013 there are some more changes coming into place in relation to images so if you’re not prepared or wondering why there might have been quite a few updates to cover photos in your feed here’s our guide to those issues on Facebook that people frequently don’t realise are no-nos!!


Cover Photo

  • This is the large image at the top of your facebook business page and should be a representative image of your business and comes with a list of details that are not permitted – read on for details.
  • Images that consist of more than 20% text – as of 15th January 2013 images will be monitored by a grid system and automatically deleted if they don’t comply. This will also impact on certain ads such as those that would ordinarily appear in your news feed – keep an eye out for our post later this week on the topic of ads.
  • Sales information i.e. no “40% off at yourwebsite.com” or “hotel rooms from just €59 per night”
  • Contact information – no phone number, no email address, no web address
  • References to Facebook platform i.e. no “like our page”
  • Calls to action i.e. no “share our page with friends” or “book by 31st January to save”
  • The Facebook logo, like button or F – you’re not permitted to use their logo as part of an image that depicts your business!


Using The Facebook Platform For Promotions

  • You cannot ask people to “like and share” to enter a competition, apart from the fact that you are spamming all of your facebook friends you cannot as a business or contestant participate in a “fair competition” because of privacy restrictions – you might also like this post on why you should avoid them.
  • The like button, the share function, the option to upload photos or comment on a post are not permitted by Facebook to be used for promotional purposes.
  • Acknowledgement that the promotion is not “sponsored by, endorsed by, administered by or supported by Facebook” i.e. you are required to completely release Facebook from any association with your promotion.  You are also required to advise exactly who any information provided is being released to and what you intend using it for.
  • Third party applications – starting from free and available widely across the web or customised to suit, these are the ONLY way you can run a promotion on your facebook page.
  • Lottery competitions – I’m always astonished at the number of pages that think it’s appropriate to ask people to “like and share” a photo of a lottery ticket in order that should they win the main prize they can claim a share of it.  Quite apart from the fact that “like and share” competitions are not permitted on Facebook, gaming legislation and licences are in place for a reason and apply to the online world just as it would offline.  This is one that will make for interesting court cases should anybody ever win and should be avoided at all costs.
  • You are not permitted to announce a winner in a Facebook status update, via a message to their inbox or using the chat function within an account.


The Content You Post

  • If you’ve been using Google images for funny or cute photos STOP now!  When you click on an image that comes up when you search a notice appear on-screen suggesting that “images may be subject to copyright” – forget the “may”, somebody created that image and if you’re googling, it wasn’t you!
  • Copyrighted material e.g. images/photos must be yours to share or you should have permission/purchased a licence to share – and will require on occasion a reference to the copyright holder.  Also, nothing looks worse for a business than an image shared with a very clear watermark right across the middle – it’s proof you didn’t obtain it legitimately!
  • If you share copyrighted material such as images that are not yours to share facebook can and do take down pages, all it takes is a click of a button – and this applies to YouTube videos too so that cute video of the kids dancing to your favourite tune could well end up zapped too!
  • Defamatory laws apply online as well as offline, think before you post and don’t say something you’d be afraid to say offline no matter how anonymous you think you are!



Facebook Profiles For Business

  • Facebook has been with us for many years now and businesses trading as “friends” to their customers are quite simply engaging in lazy – and often dangerous – marketing of their brand.
  • Profiles were designed for humans i.e. people with a date of birth, no business/brand/company has that?
  • Personal profiles cannot set age restrictions and can technically break the law i.e. a restaurant running a promotion offering a free bottle of wine for Valentines Day could be breaking the law if they happened to have under-18s on their friend list?!  Also, if you’re a parent would you be happy to see your teens be-friend random businesses?
  • Businesses that be-friend their clients or potential clients have access to information that isn’t actually any of their business.  If you’ve set up your page correctly you know the demographics i.e. male/female, age group, language, etc and when somebody new likes your page you see their name – but you can’t see their personal information.  If you’ve be-friended a business ask yourself who  is actually behind the page and can they see your holiday snaps?  Do they know when you’re out for the night?  Can an ex have a look at what you’re up to now?
  • Those businesses who use Profiles instead of Pages cannot see demographics, cannot use apps to run promotions and cannot advertise their page – practically essential if you want to increase the number of people who see your updates.
  • Multiple admins can be assigned to a page, each of whom can have direct access from their personal profile.  Using a profile for your business means a whole new set of passwords and logging out of your own account every time you want to update.


Quite apart from the fact that you’re breaching the very terms of service that you agreed to on creating your personal profile or business page you are at risk of HAVING YOUR FACEBOOK PAGE DELETED!!!!

Yes, this can and does happen yet no matter how many times you tell a person this they never believe it happens, that people really do log in one day and find that their page no longer exists without warning and nothing more than a message to explain it’s gone for breaching terms of service?

While most people don’t like to confess to it, here are a few who did – one of them lost a staggering 788,000 likes!!!!!!!!!!!







These are just some of the areas that you need to be aware of, the full terms of service for those of you using a facebook page in business can be found here.

Social media, social commerce, social business – whatever you decide to call it – is going nowhere, it’s going to be with us for the long term.   Don’t let your business be the one that people use for their example of how not to use it!

Image ‘Policy Guidance Rule Book’ courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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