I won’t lie. The Facebook Advertising Guidelines must have been written to bore you to tears. It’s worse than reading The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich in the 10th grade. (Yes, I was that kind of nerd… I read War and Peace that year, too)
Back then, I had a bit more time on my hands that I do today. Yet, I knew that this was worth my time to learn. So, when I set up my Business Manager, I hit every link I could find to help me be a better Facebook Marketer. There are a ton of articles from lots of other experts online. I read most of them.
I’ve discovered that sometimes it’s worth it to just “get it from the horse’s mouth.” That’s how my grandfather put it, anyway.
I’ll be honest with you. This “horse” gives less policy than a Republican presidential candidate in a televised debate!
Luckily, my first Facebook ad was approved. Within 24 hours. I was proud of that fact. Especially since I’ve heard horror stories of rejections and outright deletion of accounts. Those stories terrified me. I could imagine losing my entire Facebook account because of one submitted ad. I owe Fearless Social CEO, Ben Adkins a ton of thanks. His Fearless Social AdLab Mastermind helped me clear that hurdle with ease.
I’ve since found out that one rejected ad normally won’t get you tossed. Any of your ads might get rejected, for whatever reason. But, it’s unlikely you could be so out of bounds with your ad that you get tossed immediately.
I’ve seen the event of being shut down by Facebook called the “slap of death.” I think they use this phrase because of the hand in the “Like” icon.
The irony of that hand, showing an approving thumbs up all the time is funny to me. The same hand that never shows rejection (thumbs down) is also the hand that can slap your business down if they don’t like your ad.
That doesn’t sound too friendly to me.
So, I want to help you avoid that unfriendly “slap of death” as much as possible. Then, I’ll give you a little bit of guidance on what to do if you ever get slapped by your friends at Facebook central.
- THINGS TO AVOID IN YOUR FACEBOOK ADS
- THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR LANDING PAGES FROM FACEBOOK ADS
- WHAT DO TO IF YOU GET SLAPPED DOWN
First, you need to know Facebook reserves the right to reject, approve or remove any ad at any time for any reason. It’s their platform and their discretion. If you’re serious about advertising on Facebook, you need to keep the link to their guidelines bookmarked. Refer to it often.
The guidelines are subject to change at any time. And, you know how often Facebook likes to change things. We’ll keep you up to date when the policies change. And, we’ll show you how the changes will apply.
Understanding this, it is only fair to remind you that these rules aren’t comprehensive. They’re not set in stone. They can and will change. And, following these instructions doesn’t mean that you’re not breaking a rule.
Fearless Social’s Facebook AdLabs will do our best to keep you up to date with rules changes. We’ll stay on top of new patterns of actions it seems Facebook is taking about ads on the platform. But, it’s a “best practice” to check the policies on advertising. They’re maintained by the social media giant, so they’ll be the latest information.
THINGS TO AVOID IN YOUR FACEBOOK ADS
There are about 100 different things I could give to you in a list of things to check on before you submit an ad. We may create a checklist in the future. But, that list and this post, will eventually be out of date.
I don’t want to bore you to death like the Facebook Ads Guidelines bored me. So, I’m going to try to break all this information into a few general headings:
- Data and Privacy
- Ad Content
- Rights of Others
- Ad Community Standards
- Ad Design and Positioning
- References to Facebook
- General Rules of Conduct
- Landing Pages
DATA AND PRIVACY ISSUES TO AVOID IN FACEBOOK ADS
If you want to get shut down from (and shut out of) Facebook, break this set of rules. Let me make it easy for you.
Don’t use data that doesn’t belong to you. And don’t share the data that does with others.
You also don’t want to use advertising data to build, or augment, customer profiles. In other words, don’t use your advertising to build a detailed dossier on your customers.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t use advertising data. You can. But, you must have Facebook’s and your customer’s consent and follow all applicable laws.
AD CONTENT TO AVOID IN FACEBOOK ADS
Be aware of federal, state and local laws and regulations about advertising. Also, make sure you’re polite. Pretend that you’re advertising to your grandmother, mother, or baby sister.
Don’t create an ad that would embarrass you or them. Don’t make it so racy that your grandmother would flush with embarrassment. Don’t use language that would be offensive to her. Don’t advertise anything that’s illegal.
Speaking of things that are illegal. There’s a lot of “don’t’s” in this category. For instance, did you know that advertising alcohol is banned in 13 countries?
Here’s a list of some things that Facebook frowns upon in their guidelines:
- Adult products
- Drugs (illegal or prescription)
- Online Pharmacies
- Online or Offline Gambling Ads (allowed in certain countries)
- Dietary or Herbal Supplements
- Automatic downloads
- Multi-Level Marketing
- Dating Sites (unless approved by Facebook)
- Offensive content
- Unsubstantiated claims
This isn’t a comprehensive list, but, it will get you started!
PROTECT THE PRIVACY RIGHTS OF OTHERS IN FACEBOOK ADS
I mentioned some of this earlier, but, let me be very clear. You do not want to be caught offending these rules and regulations.
Those same rules apply not just to individuals (see Privacy above). They also apply to businesses and other companies. The general rule of thought is “don’t mess with other’s rights.”
Specifically, Facebook is concerned about how you might infringe on copyright laws, trademark laws, personal and human rights, or someone’s privacy.
Just don’t do anything they could find that will infringe on someone else’s rights.
As my 5th grade civics teacher told me one day, “your rights belong where the next persons begin.” A few weeks later, he had an great addition to this rule. He said “or where their fist ends.”
In other words, don’t upset someone with what you post on Facebook. And, make sure that you’re not stealing something, offending someone, or infringing on their privacy.
Facebook can be very picky about this one. I’ve heard of ads being rejected because they ask the question “Diabetic?”
Don’t point out a fault, an illness, a negative of any point in your ads.
As I said when I started this section – treat anyone who might see your ad online as your grandmother. Or the most easily embarrassed person you love with all your heart. Do you want to upset them when they see it? Do you want to embarrass them when they see it? Are you afraid they might drop you as a friend on Facebook if they see it? All right then. Now you know if you should post it or not.
AD COMMUNITY STANDARDS IN FACEBOOK ADS
You’ll notice that a lot of these six categories of types of ads to drop overlap a little bit. Think of this as your Facebook firewall.
The rules and regulations are built as a wall to protect you, the advertiser. As a result, they protect the Facebook user, and the advertising channel. They don’t want you to be offended. But, more importantly, they don’t want Facebook users to be offended either.
So… be polite!
- Don’t do like most politicians and go negative. If your ad gets too much negative feedback, Facebook might yank it.
- Don’t promote illegal stuff.
- Don’t harass, insult or bully others in Facebook.
- Don’t harass, insult, bully or impersonate other people.
- Don’t promote hate speech.
- Don’t promote things to minors that some adults (like your grandmother) might consider inappropriate.
- Don’t go for shock value, either.
Remember the entire goal and purpose of Facebook. The platform is here to help their members expand their friendships. Facebook also wants to maximize those friendships as much as possible. Everything Facebook adds, deletes or changes is done with those objectives in mind.
If Facebook sees your ad as one that’s negative, your audience won’t be seeing your ads.
AD DESIGN AND POSITIONING FOR ADS ON FACEBOOK
Facebook has made a great deal about the design and positioning of ads on their advertising platform. They’re serious about this!
And, they should be. If they weren’t they’d be answering lawsuits every single day of their existence.
They want to make sure that you’re communicating a message they can live with and approve of. Because of that, they want to make sure you take care of the following 12 things:
- Use proper grammar
- Be accurate, with proper representation, without deception
- Do not imply a user’s personal characteristics. (avoid referring to race, ethnic origin, religion, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, physical or mental health status, philosophical belief, financial status, membership, criminal record or name)
- Adhere to all applicable laws when targeting for alcohol
- Adhere to all applicable laws when targeting for dating
- Adhere to all applicable laws when targeting for adult products
- Use of symbols, numbers or letters much reflect their actual meanings
- Do not position anything in a sexually suggestive manner
- Do not use audio or flash animation in “autoplay” mode. Make sure the user interacts with the content first
- Make sure that all parts of the ad is relevant to the product being promoted
- The ad must lead to a functioning landing page that doesn’t prevent the user from leaving
- There should be no more than 20% text in images (this applies on almost every image!)
It’s important to note that Facebook has modified their 12th rule. No longer are you cut off if the image doesn’t follow the 20% Rule, but, breaking the 20% Rule will make you have to pay more money to get Facebook to place that video to more people in order to get your ad clicked on by the same number of people.
DON’T USE REFERENCES TO FACEBOOK IN FACEBOOK ADS
If you want to really offend the team at Facebook, then break these rules! They’re very particular about how their branding images are use, and how their name is used.
If you’re going to use the name “Facebook” in your advertising, you must request permission. They will not approve anything that implies an endorsement or partnership with their company.
My recommendation is that you read the Facebook Brand Usage Guidelines first. Then, if you have any questions, contact them and ask for permission.
If you don’t get permission, then, don’t do it.
GENERAL RULES OF CONDUCT FOR FACEBOOK ADVERTISING
I saved this section for last. That’s because it’s the one section of all that makes the most common sense.
Of course, you don’t need to lie. So, Facebook doesn’t allow false, misleading, fraudulent or deceptive claims. They’re very particular abut this.
This is why they won’t allow some of the advertising I’ve mentioned above. (like herbal remedies or gambling, for instance). If you’re making a claim of a certain amount of financial success, you better have valid evidence.
There are some general rules of conduct that apply to all advertisers, also. To help you with these rules, Facebook has prepared three different online documents:
If you plan on using contests or page posts, you must follow their terms included in their Page Terms.
And, all ads must comply with the Facebook Platform Policies.
THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR LANDING PAGES FROM FACEBOOK ADS
This section is extremely important. Especially since you’re a marketing professional, and Dr. Ben, CEO and Co-Founder of Fearless Social, recommends the use of sales funnel pages.
There are a few things you need to make sure of before you get started leading people to your sales funnel. Let me make a suggestion to help you avoid most all of these potential red flags. Use Ben’s recommendation to use what he calls “bridge pages.”
To learn more about bridge pages, watch this video, and read this blog post.
Here are a few issues you need to avoid when you’re using Landing Pages.
- Error Pages
- Geographic IP Address Restrictions
- Destination URLs
If your link in the ad points to an error page (401, 403, 404, 500, etc), then Facebook won’t approve it. Check your links before you submit i the ad.
Use Chrome “incognito,” Safari “private” or some other tool that cloaks your cookies from web destinations to make sure everyone can see the page.
If you’re using URL tracking codes, make sure it is pointing to the correct page! And, if you’re using something like bit.ly or Pretty Links, make sure those links aren’t broken, too.
Basically, Facebook’s personnel are trying to protect you from losing a sale and losing your ad budget on broken links.
There’s been volumes of content written about ads pointing to pages with pop-ups. Some of it is accurate, some not. This is not the definitive end-all-posts-on-advertising-pop-up-ads-in-facebook post.
Just as sure as I post this, someone will refer to their issues with Facebook.
But, generally, you’ll find success if you follow this information.
- First, don’t ever send someone from Facebook to a “pop-up farm.” You know, a site that has so many pop-up ads that you can’t get out of them and have to shut your browser down.
- Second, don’t send someone to one of those pop-ups that lock the user down and hi-jacks their browser.
Those two restrictions are simple to understand, I’m sure. Facebook doesn’t want their members mad at them for allowing them to get hacked like that.
- Third, don’t send anyone from Facebook to your landing page that has pop-up. I mean, they’re already on your sales funnel page! Don’t distract them from your message! It looks amateur. Don’t do it.
- Fourth, don’t worry about pop-ups on your blog posts. Of course, if you start getting blog post ads rejected, that would be the first thing I turned off before I re-submitted the ad for review.
Should you ignore Facebook’s disdain for pop-ups? Absolutely not.
Should you block all pop-ups from your destination pages? Absolutely not.
I know marketers who are getting more than 4000 opt-ins per month using pop-up requests for opt-ins on their blog. Most of them are obtained by visiting their blog site as a result of Facebook ads.
GEOGRAPHIC IP RESTRICTIONS
We just talked about the fact that certain advertisements are not allowed in certain countries. So, the obvious answer to this is to restrict access to your website from people in those countries, right?
Not according to Facebook. Their team of ad reviewers are in countries all over the globe. They’ll need access, of course. Plus, you don’t want to waste ad dollars on an ad that is global, yet, isn’t assessable by certain users.
Of course, you want to make sure your destination URL in your ad drives your audience to a site that works in every type of browser in use. Make sure your website works in every browser possible. One way you can check this is to use BrowserShots.org. It is important to make sure that any individual on Facebook that might be able to see your landing page once they click on your ad is not blocked from seeing that ad, either by IP restrictions or by browser issues.
WHAT TO DO IF YOUR FACEBOOK AD GETS SLAPPED DOWN
There will come a day when you receive the dreaded rejection notice.
“Your ad isn’t approved because it doesn’t comply with our Advertising Policies…”
You need to understand a few things first.
- Every ad goes past a set of eyeballs.
- Some of them are local to you
- Others are on the other side of the globe.
Facebook tries their best to make the rules as objective as possible. But, their human observers are not. The company uses a combination of automation and human interaction to judge your ads.
Sometimes, the automation will throw and ad out. It could be because something in the ad sounds off an alarm in the automation. It could be something in your destination page.
While humans involved are supposed to catch these false alarms, sometimes they do not. That’s the beauty of using humans for this work! 😃
So, here’s what to do, if you get this letter in your Business or Ads Manager email account.
- Don’t panic
- Read the message carefully
- Check your ad based on the message
- Check out the destination URL
- Present your defense
- Be friendly with Facebook
- Be prepared for some back and forth communications
- Make your stand firmly, but friendly
- Be prepared to reach out to a higher authority
- Use the Customer Service Chat (I learned how to do this inside AdLab one day!)
The worst thing in the world you can do is panic. All panicking will do is make you make a rash decision that will not help you in the long run.
So, just sit back. Take a walk. Drink a swig of your favorite drink. Whatever it is you do to help relax yourself, go do it!
I promise you, it’s not the end of the world as you know it. You’ve not lost it all. You can recover from this, if you just follow the pathway.
And, if you don’t get your ad approved, don’t worry. It just means you’ve got to figure out a way to get one approved. You can’t do that if you’re in a state of panic.
READ THE MESSAGE CAREFULLY
Facebook officials will be very specific in their correspondence with you. They will describe the problems they’ve found with your ad. Read it carefully and calmly.
CHECK YOUR AD BASED ON THE MESSAGE
Once you’ve read the message, make a list of the things they have problems with. Then, go check your ad to make sure that you haven’t broken the rules as they’ve specified them in the message.
If you have broken them, fix the offending information and re-submit the ad. (go to the PRESENT YOUR DEFENSE section below)
If you don’t see any offending information in the ad, then, go to the next step
CHECK OUT THE DESTINATION URL
If your ad passes the above test, you need to check the URL the ad points to. Make sure you haven’t broken any rules on that web page. Use the list you created above.
If you have broken Facebook’s guidelines, fix the offending information and re-submit the ad. (go to PRESENT YOUR DEFENSE below)
If you don’t find any offensive material, go to the next step.
PRESENT YOUR DEFENSE
This is where your work gets a little personal. And, it’s where that relaxation is very valuable to your needs.
Here are some things you need to remember as you’re presenting your defense. I call it the “Perry Mason” approach. The famous TV attorney was known for his statement “just the facts, ma’am.”
Don’t include emotions in your redress of grievances. Emotions will destroy any chance you may have of reprieve.
Here are some things you need to include.
- First, describe the disapproved ad or ad set. You’ll also need your Account ID, Ad ID, and the URL of the disapproved ad.
- Second, describe the complaint reported by Facebook.
- Third, describe any actions you’ve taken to correct the complaint(s). If you haven’t found anything matching their complaint, make that statement and seek guidance.
BE FRIENDLY WITH FACEBOOK
As much as you’d like to “rip a new one” or “whoop out a can” on the person you’re talking to at Facebook, don’t. It’s highly unlikely that you’re even talking to a person this early in the process, to begin with.
Be as friendly as possible. Be as emotion-less as possible. Do NOT take this as a personal attack on you or your loved ones. It’s NOT what the nice folks at Facebook has intended. Believe me, they want to spend your money!!!
Don’t get personal. Don’t get vulgar. Don’t get rude. Don’t use foul language. Don’t even use local euphemisms.
Just be polite. Be friendly. Be like Perry Mason. Stick to the facts.
BE PREPARED FOR SOME BACK AND FORTH COMMUNICATIONS
You’ll need to be prepared for a few messages going back and forth. This will take a while. So, make sure you keep relaxing through out the entire process.
You’re not going to get this approved overnight. But, if you do, be happy and tell me I don’t know what I’m talking about! 😃
MAKE YOUR STAND FIRM, BUT FRIENDLY
I know I’ve said this before, but it is worth repeating.
- State the facts.
- Be friendly.
- But, stand your ground.
If you don’t see the offense, ask them to teach you a little bit. Get them to explain how your ad, or your destination URL broke the guidelines.
Tell them you don’t want to break the rules, but, you’re not seeing where the rules were broken and you want to fix it.
Be firm about it. Don’t just give in to them. Make sure you have all the information you need to correct anything that needs to be corrected.
If you don’t get the answers you need, go to the next step.
BE PREPARED TO REACH OUT TO A HIGHER AUTHORITY
No, I’m not talking about God, or anything like that.
Ask for their supervisor. Begin the discussion all over, if necessary. Remember, this ad is already late running. It’s not about getting the ad to run immediately now. Now, the emphasis should be on learning how to avoid this painful lesson again.
If you’ve ever been on a call with a major corporation’s help or support line, you have likely used this technique before. Use it now.
Go “over the head” of the first level Facebook reviewer and go to their supervisor. Be friendly. Be firm. But, explain your problem.
Remember: This is your problem, not theirs. Don’t point your fingers at their employees. You’ll make an enemy quickly at a time when you need allies.
USE THE CUSTOMER CHAT FEATURE
Facebook has created some tools that will help you in this appeals process.
The resources page offers you the ability to chat with a Facebook employee by clicking the “Get Help” menu item on the top of the page.
Don’t just run to the chat feature first. Try communicating with them in the Ad/Business Manager first. If you’re not getting anywhere, don’t avoid escalating the discussion to a live chat session. (I recently put a video #adlabtip inside the Fearless AdLab Mastermind teaching AdLab members how to find this chat feature, join AdLab to learn more about this Facebook chat resource.)
Before we put this issue of ad rejections to bed, I have one more recommendation for you. This is a bit preventative in nature. Consider getting an ad rep or another contact inside Facebook you can use when you need to.
When you’re communicating with Facebook tell them you will escalate your case. Let them know you won’t stop until a human looks at your ad and your destination URL. Make sure they understand you want to have each of your individual arguments addressed by a human.
I hope you never get the Facebook Slap of Death, but, if you do, now you know how to handle the problem! If you’d like to learn how to speak with a Facebook Advertising Customer Support specialist, make sure you join the AdLab Mastermind and search for the #adlabtip dated July 28, 2016.
- How to Avoid The Facebook Slap of Death (And What To Do If You Get Slapped) - July 31, 2016
- How Your Business Will Benefit from Instagram’s New Analytics - June 16, 2016
- AdLab’s Guide to Facebook’s 2016 F8 Announcements for Marketers - April 20, 2016
- How I Set Up My Facebook Business Manager Account in Less Than 10 Minutes - March 8, 2016
- 7 Steps to Overcome Procrastination and Get Things Done - February 25, 2016
- 3 Websites That Will Guide You To Affiliate Success - February 17, 2016
- A Dozen Easy Ways to Quickly Improve Your Content Marketing - February 12, 2016
- What You Need To Know To Get Your Blog Setup Today (Part 2) - February 5, 2016
- What You Need To Do To Get Your Blog Setup Today (Part 1) - January 28, 2016
- How To Avoid the Common Failures of Affiliate Marketing - January 20, 2016