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Facebook for small business

12 July 2013 / 15:07:47  GRReporter
6783 reads

Ivan Ivanov

Let us face it: Facebook business (or fan) pages are a haven for small businesses. From a small neighbourhood restaurant through a small shop, studio and workshop to a garage or a small dance school, fan pages offer a free opportunity to show the world that you exist, make a free web page, pin your company on the map, inform your customers about the latest news, promotions and important events which would be useful for them and to bring to you new satisfied customers and related sales. Many businesses find it unreasonable to invest in websites for various reasons. This is mostly because they are too small to be able to spend a considerable sum of money to develop a website which requires commitment but also support. They have no special employee to take care of the website, and its additional support requires additional funds.

Before I continue, let me clarify why I am mentioning the small firms and businesses in connection with Facebook business (fan) pages. Medium- and large-sized companies, especially the large ones, have not only one employee but also a whole department to deal with the website of the company. Moreover, they can even hire an external firm to build a comprehensive strategy related to the company's performance in social networks. The professionals in these companies are familiar with the subject of this article or they should be at least. Therefore, I think that the theme of this article is useful for people who support their own Facebook page, have little time and basic knowledge but are not aware of the majority of the specific "pitfalls", i.e. the mistakes which, if made, could lead to penalties or bans of different nature and stringency.

Let me start from the beginning and briefly clarify the nature of business or fan pages as they are usually called. You should remember something very important, namely that even though you have created the page and put the name of your company on it, you do not own it! These pages are the property of Facebook and all content thereon, which brings the benefits previously mentioned, must comply with the rules of Facebook relating to these kind of pages. This should be very clear in order for you to avoid unpleasant surprises, namely to see your company's page punished for something that seems to you quite normal and acceptable for a blog or a company’s website once you have invested significant time and effort to develop, support and promote this page. I hasten to give a good example. It is quite normal for a company’s website to welcome you with the latest offers on its home page. The cover of Facebook does not allow you to post promotions or invite the visitors to like the page. The same applies to promotions of games that are related to liking the page.

I will list some important points which you should bear in mind but note that they do not cover all the rules. You can read in detail the specific rules related to the business pages here.

- Your Facebook page can be penalized if you infringe someone's intellectual property rights. The social network looks like a place where you can share (almost) everything but when it comes to business pages, all restrictions in terms of sharing content with preserved intellectual property rights apply to Facebook too.
- You cannot use trademarks without the explicit consent of the company that owns them. This also applies to Facebook itself. Be careful with the use of trademarks in the name of the page especially if they use the Latin alphabet. There are strict terms regarding the use of names which are similar to popular brands and which are aimed to look or sound like them.
- Cases in which the use of the Like button to like the company's website is not allowed:
          - If you place the Like button on the homepage of the website
          - If you use the Like-button as a condition for participation in the promotions offered by you.
These violations are detected by the anti-spam systems of Facebook.
- Be careful with the placement of content for which there is an age restriction such as alcohol, cigarettes, etc. Punishment will follow if you do not make the appropriate adjustments to indicate the presence of such content on your website.

Here is a summary of the cases in which a company’s page can be punished:

- If you do not comply with the terms and conditions of Facebook

-If the administrators of the page, i.e. the people who have the right to modify, delete the page etc. (in the case of small businesses, the owner of the website is usually its administrator), violate the rights and obligations defined by Facebook.
- If the page is reported by users and violations are detected.
- If it duplicates or borrows content that is owned by someone else
- By mistake - the automatic protection systems of Facebook may report that the page is subject to penalty.

What can you do if your page has been penalized, deleted or banned? You will necessarily receive an e-mail from Facebook, notifying you of the reason for the penalty. The most common reason is related to its content or to reported violations. A link that will take you to a form for revision allows you to ask for reconsideration of the case. The form should be completed in English and experts recommend that it be legally sound to have more weight. I know that, probably, this is only a good wish for a small business but you should try to fill in the relevant entries in the electronic form as clearly as possible rather than emotionally.  

I will move on from the subject of penalties which no one likes, as they are unpleasant and often make your efforts pointless by telling you something very important: do not forget that your company's Facebook page is not actually yours. There are many rules to observe. I know that the majority of the people who have a small business and want to present it on Facebook by using the business pages as a substitute for their own website or blog do not have, in many cases, the time and ability to follow all rules and related changes. The safest way to avoid being punished is to provide your own content and not to try to use tricks that may bring to your page a large number of fans. Quantity does not always mean quality and you should not seek to have a large number of fans of your page who, once they have liked it, will no longer return to it. It is important for you to have fans who are interested in your products or services which means that you will mutually benefit. I am telling you this because it makes no sense to be tempted to compare the number of your fans with that of a competitor and try to catch up with the rival, albeit with illegal means. Focus on what you can offer. Do not overwhelm your fans with pictures, jokes and materials unrelated to your products. It is true that you can get a lot of likes or shares which will not be related to what you offer but to the specific picture, for example.

I have made, free of charge, several pages of small companies and I am surprised to see that they very successfully attract the attention of their current customers and have new ones without making much of a effort. Depending on their business, each of the companies updates its page only when it can offer something new and useful. Believe me that the biggest penalty on Facebook is for you to be ignored by your customers and fans because you are overwhelming them with useless information which they have already seen shared in several places.

Are you satisfied with your company's Facebook page?
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