WTF? Friday: Four Facebook Mistakes Businesses Make

By June 24, 2011Communications

WTF FridayFacebook has some pretty stringent guidelines for promotions. Lots of businesses, however, pretend these guidelines don’t exist. I think this is tantamount to sticking your tongue out at Facebook and going “nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, NAH!”

One of these days, Zuckerberg is gonna get pissed and y’all are going to wake up to banned accounts and disabled “official” pages. Frankly, I don’t blame Facebook one whit if they decide to enforce the rules on the platform they built, own and LET YOU USE FOR FREE.

There are five actions businesses take on a regular basis that are in direct violation of the rules. They are today’s WTF? Friday feature . . .

  1. Making a user “like” a page to get something in return, such as a promotional item, contest entry, etc. Seattle’s Best Coffee is a major brand doing just that right now:   “Like us! Do it! You’ll get $1.50 off a four-pack now!” Uh, no.
  2. Having a profile instead of a page, as this business, Fine Living Lancaster has done. Don’t “friend” a business and if you have a business and have created a second profile (your own, as a person and one for the business) you have violated Facebook’s Terms of Service. Whoops.
  3. Here’s a dental practice telling you that you’ll have a chance to win an iPad if you like their Facebook page. That’s TOTALLY against the rules, but not only that, has only earned them a little over 200 fans. Worth it? Especially since they run the risk of having their page shut down? Probably not.
  4. Another really common no-no – the photo contest run without a third party. You can’t ask users to upload photos for a photo contest that takes place within Facebook. See #4 of the Promotions Guidelines.

If you’re a marketer, what do you think? Should businesses with a marketing presence know better? If Facebook does crack down and disable accounts like the ones above, who should be held accountable for that?


  • tanque says:

    I hate, hate, HATE when a company is giving some sort of discount, but I have to like them on Facebook first.

  • Marijean says:

    @tanque Just when you may have liked them already, they try to force you to do it. Pretty uncool.

  • Whoaman says:

    That’s what most marketing companies tell you to do (give people an incentive for them to “like” your page). How else are you supposed to get people to “like” your page when you’re a small company, new to an area, and all other marketing strategies have failed? Most people want something in return for doing you a “favor”, that’s why it’s the perfect strategy.

  • Marijean says:

    @Whoaman You can do it, you just have to use a third-party app or provide quality content to build the community, not just throw out offers contingent upon becoming a fan. What do you offer as a small company that is less tangible? Information? News? Behind the scenes content? There is a lot you can do that is totally within the parameters of the TOS.

  • karirippetoe says:

    I’m gonna go out on a limb here by giving most of these businesses the benefit of the doubt. I don’t think they’re necessarily doing it in spite of the rules, they’re doing it because they’re just blissfully unaware of them. Yes, I understand that it’s the collective responsibility of the marketers and businesses to be aware of this stuff, but Facebook will frequently make changes to their TOS without most people knowing any better. It takes a while for those changes to eventually filter out to the masses. Blog posts like these are how most of us find this stuff out! 🙂

    Reminds me of a recent episode of “South Park” where everyone was appalled that Kyle wasn’t reading the agreement that pops up every time he downloads an iTunes update. Hilarity ensues.

  • Marijean says:

    @karirippetoe I agree! And that’s why people like me provide content like this — I do think if you’re marketing a business you have the responsibility to search for and absorb the information. I doubt many are doing it, as you say, in spite of the rules, but that’s not going to matter much to Facebook when they decide to crack down. By the way, the TOS in this case has always been this way.

  • karirippetoe says:

    @Marijean They’ve always been that way, and yet LOADS of businesses (including big brands like Seattle’s Best Coffee) have been doing rule-breaking Facebook promotions for that long as well. It’s only been in recent months that I’ve seen an upsurge in blog posts about this topic, and I think Facebook realizes that not enough people are aware of these terms and there are too many businesses to crack down on. Or maybe that’s wishful thinking on my part. 😉

    I am thankful, though, for bloggers like you who keep the masses informed about stuff like this. So much information in the social mediasphere, so little time! Question for you, though – if a business offers a discount for checking in via Facebook Places (like Gap did some months back), is that against the TOS?

  • KenMueller says:

    Drives. Me. Batty.