9 Flagrant Facebook Fouls

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Dress me up in black and white and give me an air horn (a whistle just won’t do). I’m sick and tired of watching people, ESPECIALLY social media “experts” (AKA: ninjas, gurus and mavens), make glaring mistakes in the social sphere.

It would take way too much space to list ALL of the platforms, so today we’ll focus on Facebook. Maybe we’ll turn this into a series and cover other social sites on later posts.

I realize most people don’t read the Terms of Service on Facebook. It’s long. It’s hairy. You just wanna skip ahead and put out those red solo cup pics … yeah, yeah, I get it. However, if you happen to be a social media “professional” you should get up close and personal with Facebook’s ToS.

Seriously … if you “work” in social media and you haven’t read the ToS start to finish, STOP RIGHT NOW AND GO DO IT. I’ll even make it easy for you and list the Pages Guidelines here.

Flag on the field!

  1. If your Cover Photo has an email address, phone number, web address or any sort of contact info, you’re violating ToS. You also cannot include pricing info or a CTA (call to action). For instance, “Like our Page,” is a big, fat NO NO.
  2. A newer rule (as of December 17th, 2012) with Cover Photos says that it cannot contain more than 20% text – so all of those amazing quotes about your amazing business all over your CP?? VIOLATION.
  3. You cannot reference Facebook features on your Cover Photo … so “Like us” or “share this” type text is not allowed.
  4. [Update: Facebook changed Cover Photo rules in July, 2013.]

Illegal Assist in Scoring!

  1. You MUST use a 3rd-party application for ANY type of contest. This means you are NOT allowed to have Fans like, comment, or share something on your Facebook Page to win a prize. So your little Trivia game for a free pizza? VIOLATION.
  2. Additionally, when running a contest or promotion, you cannot announce the winner through Facebook. So again, telling Sally Sue her answer was correct in your illegal Trivia Contest is also a VIOLATION. You may not message Sally Sue, either. In fact, you can’t use ANY Facebook functions to name a winner (starting to understand why those 3rd-party applications are necessary?!).
  3. Every participant of a contest or promotion must also be notified that they are giving their information to YOU and not to Facebook.
  4. [Update: Facebook changed Contest rules in September, 2013]

Unnecessary Roughness!

  1. Page names on Facebook must represent Page content. This means if you’re a candle stick maker and all you do is post cat memes, you’re technically violating ToS. I haven’t heard of FB coming down hard on this yet, but I am secretly wishing for the day marketers will have to use their noodles to garner likes and shares versus going to and re-posting non-relevant content day in and day out.
  2. Though there isn’t specific language in FB’s ToS, using other people’s content, visual aids, or the taking of one’s ideas without giving credit IS a form of online plagiarism. To read more about your rights and what you can do if a dirty marketer steals your stuff, read this.
  3. Okay, this one isn’t anyone in ToS, either. However, we see it WAY too often. Stop posting crap. This means don’t make it all about you. It also means help your community; give your Fans useful, relevant and educational information. Be original. And if you can’t be original? Well, yikes. Maybe Facebook isn’t the place for you.

I know there are a MILLION examples I’ve left out – I just wanted to go for the ones we’re seeing way too often (and by way too many social “professionals”).

Please take your very own moment with the referee whistle and the bullhorn and rant away with the fragrant fouls you constantly see in the comments section below!

See you in the social sphere!


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Brooke B. Sellas is an award-winning Customer Marketing Strategist and the CEO & Founder of B Squared Media. Her book, Conversations That Connect has been recognized nationally and is required reading for a Customer Experience class at NSU. Brooke's influence in digital marketing is not just about her accomplishments but also about her unwavering commitment to elevating the industry standard of digital customer experience and customer marketing.
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Category: Best Practices, , Online Plagiarism,
Tags: How to spot a fake social media "expert", , ,
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21 Comments. Leave new

  • HAHAHA! Always so clever with your comebacks! I don’t know much about soccer or tennis (clearly), so thanks for filling those in for me. :)
    Double fault sounds about right for some of the faxperts – EW!
    Thanks for reading and commenting.

  • Hey! All of you cagey and canny tricksters. That photo of your truck’s door, with the graphic panel listing all of your contact info. That’s a violation, too. Plus it’s content, so you’re getting the red card instead of yellow and you’re getting EJECTED!

    Sorry, had to move away from football for a bit! So I referenced soccer. I also could have gone for tennis and called it a double fault! WOOT!

  • Thanks for calling out the folks making all those fouls, Brooke.

    I see these types of blatant violations on a daily basis, too, and I just sit back and shake my head. I’d like to believe Facebook admins will catch up with these scoundrels at some point but I’m sure it won’t happen fast enough.

    Let’s bottom line it …
    You have your rule makers, your rule followers, and your down ‘n dirty (won’t ever tow the line or grow up) rule breakers. :(

  • Ha! I love all the sports metaphors – even though I don’t understand any of them, I still get the point! You managed to hit the most cringe-worthy infractions that I see all the time. How some of these large companies end up with “gurus” who don’t know (or choose to follow) the rules, is beyond me. They’re the ones who will lose out because they’ve been mislead!
    Alisa Meredith recently posted…Using Twitter’s New Profile OptionsMy Profile

    • Thanks, Alisa! I’m only well versed in Football and Basketball (and really not even that much!). Glad you resonated with the post. It’s beyond me, too. I get that users who are new don’t read ToS … but I REALLY can’t understand when professionals make the mistakes.
      One time, Mallie was having a discussion on her FB about ToS and an “expert” said it wasn’t fair because he/she “didn’t know you couldn’t do that” – to which several of us chimed in and said – “READ THE ToS!!!”

      It should be on the top of every “professionals” list to know, understand and stay on top of ToS rules and changes. That part seems all too simple to me, anyway.

  • I love that we think alike! I literally CRINGE when I see all of this on Facebook. If I see one more “Share and like to win” (already saw 5, yes 5!!! tonight – all kids clothing pages) I will throw my brand new laptop out the window.

    My question is though, why have rules if you won’t enforce them? I cannot understand that about Facebook. I know they are a large company, but with thousands of employees, surely they have enough to police this better. Just my .02.

    • Well it IS cringe-worthy, Mandy!

      As for FB … I don’t know. They have BILLIONS of users and thousands of employees. With that ratio, it has to be hard to hit peeps with the hammer. I’ve heard the bigger accounts “Get found out sooner” because of their identities – but now that you can call out a Page for violating any ToS, it should be interesting to see if some of the smaller guys out there tattletale on other smaller guys.

      Thanks for commenting! :)

  • It’s so sad we need to have professionals remind “professionals” to follow the rules!
    Carrie Keenan recently posted…The Ballad of Bobo and Boo BooMy Profile

  • Avatar
    Martha Giffen
    January 10, 2013 2:40 PM

    I have so many thoughts around this subject but I’ll just share a few. First, why get all bent out of shape about it? Personally, I’m tired of seeing every other social media manager spend their time and energy (and my feed) continually shouting “You’re breaking the rules!” Let’s move on. It’s a FB problem and one that all the shouting in the world isn’t going to fix.

    Having said that. Do I like that they don’t enforce their TOS? Of course not! But, I just don’t want to spend energy being the FB patrol. In fact, just a couple of days ago, I saw a supposedly social media “consultant”, who I have seen over ad over complain about the rules, post the link to a CONTEST that was in violation of the rules, and prefaced her update with something like, “I know, I know,” In other words, she wasn’t practicing at all what she nags others about.

    OK, that’s enough of my own rant! LOL You’re blog post is SPOT ON! Keep up the good work!

    • It’s certainly refreshing to see the other side of the coin, Martha! ALL opinions are welcome here, so I’m glad you shared yours. I do see much of what you are saying … and you’re right, there’s not much anyone (even Facebook, it seems) can do about the rule breakers.
      Thanks so much for reading, commenting, and having the courage to tout a different viewpoint! :)

  • Cringe-worthy infractions. yup that about nails it. I am SO tired of seeing the same infractions over and over and over and over and…… There is NO way that folks are not aware by now that these violate ToS! Even the Page admin for a knitting club must know, never mind the SoMe ‘ninjas’!

  • In my local community in Myrtle Beach, people look to me for up-to-date social media tips and advice. So many are doing it wrong, I feel like the ‘police’, for sure. I try to not do it as much online, but use what I see as teaching moments in my workshops and when I speak with (potential) clients.

    I cringe, I wince, but in the end, I show them how it is done right! Great read, will share.

  • Great post, Brooke! You have definitely covered the bases. I am happy that I am also now part of a group who is savvy about rules AND makes sure to follow them! I have learned so much and am still learning, but reading Facebook’s ToS – or any other social media platform’s ToS is definite for any professional. Thanks for putting this up! (Note: I’m still trying to get used to the one space after the period at the end of a sentence :).
    Robin Strohmaier recently posted…4 Easy To Make Blogging MistakesMy Profile

    • You would *think* it’s a definite, Robin. But by the looks of some of the fouls we’re seeing, it isn’t. I’m especially glad to be a part of those who are doing it correctly, too! Thanks for weighing in … :)

  • Avatar
    Shannon Baker
    January 16, 2013 3:17 PM

    This is a great reminder for everyone with a Facebook page Brooke! I have to admit that when I first found out I could create a page for my business for free, I set one up immediately and did NOT read the ToS. I’m familiar with them now but I know I’m not the only one who has done that unfortunately. There are too many pages for FB Administrators to catch all of the violations, but if these kinds of posts continue to circulate, the number of pages in violation can be reduced.

    • We all have to start somewhere, Shannon! Please know that I don’t think EVERY Page Administrator should know it all right out of the gate – but I DO think Social Media Professional need to do their due diligence and and know it all before they take on clients. It’s like a lawyer needing to know the law before they take on clients (in my mind!). Thanks for your comment!


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