You might have heard (or unfortunately experienced yourself) that Facebook is going through a big ol’ clean-up of its ads accounts lately.
They’re slapping the hands of advertisers who aren’t compliant with their ads guidelines and taking no prisoners in the process.
Accounts are getting shut down, sometimes without any warning, and if you’re lucky enough to get reason(s), it’s often vague at best.
What was allowed just a few months ago is now causing accounts to be flagged and shut down.
Frustrating? Yea, it can be for sure.
Should this sweeping focus on “the rules” stop us from advertising on Facebook, though?
Heck no. It just means we need to step up our game as advertisers.
I see this clean-up as a good thing (except where legitimate advertisers with good intentions are getting dinged).
Everything that’s going on is really similar to what Google did 5-ish years ago when they too went through and cleaned up AdWords accounts.
It’s a natural evolution for Facebook as it continues to grow and tries to protect the experience of its users.
And from where I sit, that’s their main priority — protect and enhance the user experience. You can’t fault them for that. That’s a good thing.
So since Facebook ads are too effective not to be using them for your business, how do we navigate this shift?
Let’s break down some Facebook ads best practices…
(Notice we’re calling them “best practices” and not hard “guidelines” because in the end Facebook makes the rules and everything is open to interpretation).
Best Practices for Staying Facebook Ads Compliant
I’m not talking checking these once or twice a year, either. Facebook updates these pages frequently so make it a habit to stay up-to-date.
As advertisers, we always need to consider how to add value and enhance the experience of our target customers on Facebook.
Ads to blog posts and webinars, for example, add value and help your target audience.
- If you’re pixeling your landing pages (which you should be) you can always turn around and retarget people who visit these pages with relevant offers.
Best Practices for Landing Pages
- Destination URL must function properly in ALL browsers (My comment: make sure to be testing your landing pages in browsers like Chrome, Firefox, Explorer, Safari)
- Facebook Ads are reviewed from a variety of international locations. Therefore, if you are advertising an external website that is restricted to people in certain regions, your ad may be disapproved.
- Ads may not direct to landing pages that trigger pop-ups or pop-unders when someone arrives upon or exits the page.
- Ads may not direct to landing pages where downloads, malware or spyware are automatically initiated upon arrival or that link to a file that requires an additional program or application in order to open content.
- Landing pages must clearly and accurately reflect the product or service being promoted in your ad. In addition, landing pages must not contain content, products, or services prohibited by FB’s Ad Guidelines. (My comment: I would hope this is an obvious one. Keep in mind that if you’re landing page has relevant content but somewhere on the page there’s a product that’s against Facebook’s terms, that’s no bueno).
- Ads may not lead to destination pages that have been flagged as having a bad reputation by Web of Trust. Web of Trust is a 3rd party website review service and has no affiliation with Facebook. To find out more about your rating and how to influence your site’s reputation, please visit: http://www.mywot.com/ (My comment: I have a big issue with this one but it’s in their guidelines so what are you gonna do? This is where the issue with using LeadPages URLs comes from. LeadPages tells me they’re well aware of this issue and are working on a resolution. In the meantime, use the LeadPages WordPress plug-in and create a custom URL for your landing page.)
- Auto-play videos. Can’t use them. Need to give control to the user. (My comment: again, Facebook is protecting the user experience, even on the landing page).
Best Practices for Ad Copy
- Ad copy must describe and represent the advertised or sponsored brand or product in an accurate and non-misleading way.
- Ads must not make unsubstantiated claims, including but not limited to price, performance and results. Any claim made in the copy should also be reflected on the landing page.
- Also, ad copy must not be insulting, harassing or threatening to people. Language used in an ad may not be offensive, profane, vulgar, libelous, slanderous or unlawful. (My comment: this is one that is open to a lot of interpretation. Bottom line, though, is you can’t say stuff like “make $50,000 by working 5 hours a week from your kitchen table” or “you’ll lose 30 lbs. in 7 days…”).
- Ads must not contain false, misleading, fraudulent, or deceptive claims or content. (My comments: this is one they’ve really started cracking down on. You can’t say “Click Here for Instant Access” when on the landing someone has to opt-in to get your download. Spell out exactly what the user needs to do in order to get what you’re marketing.)
- Ads may not contain content that exploits political agendas or “hot button” issues for commercial use. Additionally, ad text must include proper grammar and the use of all symbols, numbers, or letters must adhere to the true meaning of the symbol.
Best Practices for Your Images
- Must be relevant to the product/service you are advertising.
- 20% text rule — images can’t contain more than 20% text.
- Images may not use shock or scare tactics.
- Images may not portray non-existent functionality, including but not limited to play buttons that suggest video capability and close buttons that do not close.
- Images may not exploit political, sexual or other sensitive issues.
Paid Traffic Expert Justin Brooke On Staying Compliant
Justin is another thought leader in helping people stay up on Facebook ads compliance and what Facebook is looking at when reviewing ads.
The episode is a must listen but here are some additional suggestions from Justin:
- Make sure that you’re focused on sticking to the pattern that your account goes through (ie – logging in from the same computer and location most of the time or avoiding huge spikes in daily ad spend).
- Understand that there’s a history associated with every account. Every approval, disapproval, shutdown, unusual activity – it all puts marks on your account. If you get too many marks, the account will get shut down.
- If you have a team around the world and they have access to your Facebook account, it can raise red flags.
Digital Marketer Curt Maly on Policy and Compliance
Curt Maly is a fellow Facebook ads guy who has a digital marketing agency where they do a lot of Facebook ads – about $5 million dollars worth over the last few years. He also runs a website called Social Media Ad Genius.
Curt’s a great evangelist for doing Facebook ads the right way and recently visited with Facebook’s ads compliance team.
I interviewed Curt on episode 19 of The Art of Paid Traffic podcast and we also talked all about Facebook ads compliance and policy.
This too is a must listen episode but here are some additional suggestions from Curt based on his visit to Facebook:
- Avoid using the following words in your ad copy. These words are direct response marketing words, Facebook recognizes these key words as spammy or suspicious and the accounts are more likely to be shut down:
- “Check out this trick”
- “Here’s something that so and so isn’t telling you”
- ”Click here to find out more”
- “This is amazing and revolutionary”
- “Make $100k in 30 days”
- Google ‘Facebook ads case studies’. This is a great resource for finding out what works.
- An example of a case study that worked was of a picture of grandparents with their grandkids with text that said they love being with their grandkids and how great they feel, life is amazing. It’s a feel good story.
- Facebook is looking for feel good stories, no shock stories.
- 80% of all ads are automatically reviewed by an automatic filter process, the rest are viewed by people.
- Facebook loves ads that direct people to a blog or webinar.
- ”Opt in now, we will send you emails about a webinar on Thursday” is better than “Find out more about……. click here”, it doesn’t tell this user what’s going to happen next and that’s what Facebook want to change.
- Give people a reason to opt in to a funnel. Be really soft, focus on leads, not about selling something. Build a relationship through email!
Be Aware, Not Scared
As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, you need to be aware of Facebook’s guidelines if you want to play in their sandbox. And you should be playing there.
Use this as some best practices to follow, but don’t let it be a substitute for regularly visiting their guideline and policy pages.
Diversify Your Traffic
I also see this shakedown as a wake-up call in that we as marketers need to diversify where we’re getting our traffic from. Facebook ads are an AMAZINGLY effective strategy, but putting all of your eggs in one basket isn’t smart.
If you’re not already using other strategies like retargeting or YouTube ads or AdWords, etc, to drive traffic be sure and check out The Art of Paid Traffic podcast to learn about all kinds of effective smart paid traffic strategies.
To contact Facebook’s compliance department if your account has been locked or shut down: facebook.com/business/resources
Justin Brooke’s website – imscalable.com
Curt Maly’s Social Media Ad Genius