Facebook Jail. It’s the term used by many to describe being temporarily locked out of their Facebook account or from using certain Facebook services. It’s happening more and more often to those who have a Direct Sales business. No matter what you call it – direct sales, network marketing, social selling, or MLM – they all have one thing in common: a lack of unique content.
By not creating their own unique content or using “unique enough” content on their Facebook pages, these small business owners are breaking Facebook’s Terms of Service. However, they’re not doing it on purpose. Everyone in their network is doing it too and the parent companies aren’t educating their field of sales people on how to navigate Facebook’s TOS.
When a person or company or brand creates and posts a unique image, it’s their image. To stay in compliance with the TOS and to be an overall considerate community member, Facebook would like you use the “share” feature, if you want to share that image. However, what commonly happens, is someone will save the image and then create a new post with the image, as if it was their own. Don’t get me wrong. I understand that it’s common. It happens all the time. And some companies even expect their field of sellers to utilize this method as standard practice. But that doesn’t make it right.
Here’s the problem that many Direct Sales companies are running into: Direct Selling networks have become so large, that when there is an exciting happening, such as a new product release, everyone in that sales network is saving the same promotional image and posting it as their own in a brand new post. This method doesn’t give proper attribution (credit) to the original poster and THAT is a violation of the TOS. It becomes flagged as spam and everyone associated with that image is subsequently temporarily locked out of their account.
How can this be avoided?
One solution is for Direct Sales companies to train their sales field on the proper use of images. If they really want to use the company’s main image, then they should use the “share” function directly from the company’s source post. Shared content can be posted to a business page by clicking “share” on the post and then by choosing “post to a page”. The poster also has the option, at that time, to customize their status own status update, complete with their own link.
In addition to training their field on proper attribution, Direct Sales companies could create a variety of images that support their big promotion for the sales field to use. By having the opportunity to choose the image they like best for their pages, there’s less of a chance that the sales field will be using the same photo, all at the same time. This creates a “unique enough” post situation and the sales field is less likely to be flagged for a violation. It’s not foolproof but it’s way less noticeable than thousands of people, within the same network of friends, using the same image.
Another solution? The sales field could create their own images. I am aware that most Direct Sales companies frown upon this, but it is a proper solution. If the Direct Sales companies provided the basic assets, such as logos, fonts, and branded colors- the sales field could stay “on brand” and create their own unique images, avoiding a violation. What the sales field isn’t creative? There are other ways to make a branded image “unique enough”. For example- there are several images that support the sales initiative. Use those 4 images in a collage. BAM! You’ve got a brand new image that you put together yourself. Get creative. It’s easier than you’d think.
But the improper use of images isn’t the only way that a Direct Seller can end up in Facebook Jail.
Rapid Fire Posting
Let’s say that there’s an issue with the Direct Sales company’s new release and everyone is posting about it at once. Often times, the leaders of that company step in and try to alleviate the concerns of their customers and fellow teammates. “Rapid fire” posting is one of the easiest ways to end up temporarily locked out of a group or page. Be aware of how quickly you’re firing off your responses. Too many responses in too short a period of time is a red flag to Facebook that someone is abusing the TOS.
Cutting and Pasting
Here’s another scenario. The Direct Sales company posts an update on what’s happening with the issue they’re dealing with. Well-meaning leaders will often copy and paste that response and then post it to multiple groups, pages, and in private messages. This is a violation of Facebook’s TOS. It is flagged as spam and the account will be temporarily suspended.
Using the Same Link
Using the same link in posts across multiple groups, pages, and in private messages, in a short period of time, can also cause an account to be flagged for spam. But how can this possibly be avoided? This is a tough one. Even a URL shortener doesn’t mask a link’s final destination. I’d suggest that you choose the best place to post your message with the link. Try to avoid posting the link in multiple places, multiple times, in a short time period. And if you do need to post the link in multiple places on Facebook, attempt to vary your messaging and even your image. This isn’t an absolute solution, but I’ve personally not heard of too many people being temporarily locked out for link usage.
*NOTE– The best piece of advice? Don’t use your personal Facebook page as a sales tool. Use your business page. Even groups are set up for personal use, so be wary of where you choose to advertise through the use of links.
Multiple Private Messages + Group Messaging
Adding someone to a group message without their knowledge is a big no-no. If a Direct Seller creates a huge group message and people begin leaving that group message in masses, that’s a red flag to Facebook for an abuse of the TOS. Also- I don’t have any scientific data to back this- but in my research for this blog post, I have seen that the number 20, seems to be the magic number for being locked out for having too many open and active private messages. Use your private messaging wisely, *especially* from your personal account. Really… every Direct Seller should be using their business page for their business. Period. Business pages allow for private messaging, so try and take your inquiries there.
These are the most common ways that those in the Direct Selling industry are finding themselves temporarily locked out of their Facebook accounts. I am going to write a follow post, that will include a list of all the “other” ways that Direct Sellers and Direct Selling companies may be breaking the TOS and putting themselves at risk, without even knowing. Don’t take the risk of losing all of your hard work. Some bans aren’t temporary. Stay tuned.