Recently, I heard a story about a successful businesswoman who got banned from advertising on Facebook. Like many of us, Facebook is a place where she presents her expertise, engages with her audience, and occasionally promotes her services to earn her living. I can’t stop thinking about it, because what happened to her could happen to any of us.
This gives me pause. How about you? Here are some thoughts:
- Check your website’s Google Analytics. Which social media channel is bringing you the most traffic to your website? This year, so far, Facebook has brought over 70% of my social traffic (see image on the right).
- Organic reach on pages is down, thus making ads more important than ever. See what TopDog Social Media has to say about that here.
- Facebook can ban you from posting ads if you don’t follow their guidelines, and not even tell you why.
- There is little, if any, recourse if you get banned. If you do get banned, you might get some help on this page from Jerry Banfield, but not in all cases.
Just the thought of reading advertising guidelines is enough to put anyone to sleep, but Facebook does a good job of making theirs easy to understand. You’ll find their full guidelines here.
I’ve been running ads for about 2 years, for my own business and for my clients. It’s rare that an ad gets disallowed, especially now that I have the “no more than 20% text” rule down. You can see my blog post about this here.
Facebook ads expert, Jon Loomer, wrote an excellent post outlining 68 rules to follow covering all industries.
But let’s simplify things a bit and just cover the ones that I, my clients, and my colleagues need the most:
Know the 20% text rule: your ad’s image can only have up to 20% text. Use Facebook’s grid tool to make sure: If you’re an author, for example, and your book cover has text, that text doesn’t count in most cases.
Use caution when using the brand name Facebook in your ad, and refer to the guidelines. Additionally, think how your ad reflects on Facebook as a brand before submitting an ad. I ended up changing the name of my blog post image once, when my original title “When Facebook Ad Flops” didn’t fly. (Picture me slapping my forehead and saying, “Duh.”) You also need to make sure that you’re not giving the impression that you are working with Facebook.
Consider the age of your audience when advertising products with age restrictions (tobacco and alcohol, for example).
Don’t Co-mingle Ads Management. Facebook says: “If you are managing ads on behalf of other advertisers, each advertiser or client must be managed through separate ad accounts.” To keep everything transparent, I ask my clients to add me as a user to their ads account (ads manager > settings > ad account roles > add user).
Don’t make ads out of prohibited content. When you check out the list, it will seem very logical: illegal stuff, weapons, adult products, or images that shock or evoke strong emotional reaction. Heck, even my ads sometimes draw strong negative feedback, and my ads are delightful ;-), so be super cautious here.
You can’t refer to people’s personal attributes. These examples make very clear what this means:
Don’t be deceptive. Here you want to think about what you’re promising with your ad, and make sure that what you deliver is consistent. Once I used an image from a video that had a play button, which was a link to my blog post where the video resided, but the ad was disallowed. You can’t be misleading in any way.
Use proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Grammar nerds will like this one: “no bad grammar or punctuation.” Be cautious with language in other ways, too. Sometimes people choose blog post titles with curse words for effect, which I totally get, but if you’re going to add that language to your image and turn it into an ad, it might be disallowed.
Before and after pictures are not allowed. With this one, you might immediately think before-the-diet and after-the-diet pictures, but I’ve always wondered if a professional organizer might have a difficult time advertising on Facebook. I envision a “before I came” and “after I did my magic” scenario. Maybe they can only show the “after” pictures…
Certain industries have special guidelines. Several industries have specific restrictions (alcohol, gambling, and lotteries, for example), but included are some industries that you might not expect, such as nutritional supplements, online dating, and subscription services. If you are selling a subscription service, make sure that you see their specific rules there.
Custom audiences have special rules. If you’re like me, you’ve uploaded your email list to Facebook to invite them to like your page. You can also create custom audiences for advertising by uploading your email list. Those emails need to have been gathered in a legal way. Check the full rules here.
Be relevant, accurate, and consistent. Your ad needs to be relevant to the audience you’re targeting, accurate in its representation, and, if there is a link to a landing page, it needs to be consistent with your ad.
What happens in Facebook needs to stay in Facebook. Any data that you collect as a result of running your ads can’t be shared.
Hopefully, there aren’t too many surprises here. These guidelines are very logical and make common sense, if you look at it from Facebook’s point of view. They are trying to create a safe and enjoyable experience for their users. Period.
Like driving, advertising on Facebook for your business is a privilege not a right, a right that can be taken away irrevocably. We need to play by their rules.
Speaking of rules, humans are reviewing your ad submissions, and they are not 100% consistent. Be flexible and remember that it’s up to them, not you, how the rules are applied.
Trying to push the envelope and not caring about the number of times your ads are disallowed seems foolhardy to me. I’ve gone astray of the guidelines accidentally enough times, I certainly don’t want to try and get disallowed.
For most of you, it will be easy to comply with all of these guidelines — just being aware of them is a good business practice. In addition to being familiar with the rules today and how they change over time — because they will — I suggest the following:
- Don’t outsource your Facebook ads management 100%. Participate in the process and monitor the results. Make sure that you are getting notifications when ads are approved and disapproved. Your money and your reputation are on the line, not to mention a valuable place to connect with a broader audience.
- Monitor the relevance scores of your ads (viewable after your ad reaches an audience of 500). If your relevance score dips below 7, consider tweaking or stopping the ad to produce something that the audience responds to more favorably. To learn more about Facebook ad relevance scores, head to Ad Espresso’s post here and Facebook here.
- Familiarize yourself with Facebook’s guidelines and follow them.
Okay — enough of this rules stuff! Now, go craft some ads that attract your audience, engage them, and entice them onto your list, to build your business big time! And have some fun with it, really :-)
Kristy Schnabel of It’s Virtually Done is a social media & online marketing strategist who helps entrepreneurs with quick & easy social media strategies to boost their business. She’s been profitable online for 11+ years and relishes helping others master new technologies. When she’s not online, you can find her swimming miles for her next open water swim vacation, hiking in the forest with her dog, Aubrey, or walking at the Oregon Coast with her husband Larry.
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