Facebook Jail? Well, in reality there is no such “place”, but there are times when Facebook will limit your activities or even outright ban you if you violate their policies. But there are ways to minimize your likelihood of a “slap” by Facebook.
Facebook is a strange dichotomy in and of itself. On the one hand, Facebook sees itself as a “social network for individuals”. On the other hand, Facebook encourages business activity by providing business pages and advertising venues. As business people, we see great opportunities in reaching out to potential customers and partners on Facebook. But it’s easy to get “caught up” in Facebook’s rules. If you break Facebook’s rules, you can be prevented from requesting new friends, sending messages to non-friends, even having your account blocked from receiving friend requests, and ultimately having your account shut down entirely. So how can you avoid “Facebook Jail” and still use Facebook effectively for your business? Here are 9 ways to help:
- Use your Business Page for all of your business news. It’s certainly okay occasionally to post about your business life on your personal Facebook wall, but keeping your personal Facebook Friends and business activities separate will help you keep out of hot water.
- Limit Friend Requests of people who you don’t really know. Even though it’s tempting to go find a Facebook group of individuals who you are CERTAIN would be thrilled to hear about your business, and start adding them as Facebook friends so you can “get to know them”, this is one surefire way to land in Facebook Jail. If you request too many friends at once, have too many outstanding friend requests that go unanswered, have too many people accept your request but answer “no” to the question about whether you know them outside of Facebook, or even actually report you for “abuse” or “spam”, you may have your Friend Request privileges revoked for a week or two. There are other ways to market to people you meet in Facebook Groups and see interacting on Facebook Pages that you wish to engage. I’ll post a link and explanation below to a innovative way to get your message in front of specifically targeted Facebook users so you don’t have to “troll” for friends on Facebook and possibly land in jail.
- Be genuine when you DO make Friend Requests of those you don’t know well. When you do find someone who you wish to send a Friend Request to, and they fall into the “I don’t really know this person, but they are in a group I joined, or they are a friend of a friend” category, be upfront and genuine. Send a message first letting the person know who you are, how you found her Facebook account, and why you want to get to know her. You can also send a Friend Request at that time, but I often wait until I hear back, or send a friend request a day later to avoid having the Friend Request appear before the message.
- Have a real profile picture that reflects who you are any how you wish to be viewed by strangers. If you are trying to contact a virtual stranger on Facebook, make sure that the person doesn’t assume you are a creepy jerk by looking at your profile picture. Would you accept a friend request from a total stranger who had a zombie as a profile picture? Okay, maybe – but you get the picture!
- Have some information available to the public in the “About” link on your profile page. There is certainly a lot about our lives that we only share with our “true” friends on Facebook, but if you intend to approach relative strangers, at least give them something to see about you, and feel comfortable with.
- Along the same lines as 5., have some public status updates that show who you are to those you are trying to Friend who do not know you. You should be judicious about what you post on Facebook that is public, but certainly if it is something about you that you would divulge on your business page, you can also post publicly on your personal wall so that others get a sense of who you are.
- Use “short links” on your Business Page and on your Personal wall when linking to your own websites. Occasionally Facebook will decide that a website or certain words in URLs are spam or against their policies. While certainly YOUR site should not be considered spammy or objectionable to Facebook, mistakes happen. If you use a short link service like bit.ly, goo.gl or wp.me you can often avoid problems with Facebook blocking access to URLs in your posts.
- Avoid posting the same exact information in multiple places. If you post the same status to multiple pages, groups and friends’ walls, Facebook will deem that spamming, and give you a warning, perhaps even limiting your ability to post for a time.
- Avoid sending the same message to a large number of people. This is of course very similar to #8, but slightly different. If you go into your messages and copy/paste the same message over and over to many people, Facebook will give you a warning. If you continue, Facebook will block you from sending messages. Slow down, and personalize your messages more.
Interestingly enough, if you look at the 9 items above, you will see a clear pattern emerging: don’t spam, be genuine, keep your business and personal Facebook lives separate. It really is that simple. Facebook can be a great way to increase your business presence online, but it needs to be done within Facebook’s own guidelines!
Up in #2 above, I mentioned that there is a way to target people in specific Facebook Groups or those who actively participate in Facebook Pages without trying to send them individual messages or friend requests. This can be done through “custom audiences” in Facebook Ads. You can upload a list of Facebook users that have an interest that would be compatible to your business and create an ad targeted specifically to them. I’ll be writing a blog post soon about this method, and my results in using it. For now, the easiest way to do this, and complete instructions on how it works can be found at the FB Traffic Sniper site.
Go have fun on Facebook (but stay out of trouble!)