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One False Move and You Could Lose Your Facebook Page!

Originally written with Chamber of Commerce organizations in mind, (because I've become "Friends" with more than 100 Chambers over the past several weeks), I've decided to rewrite it for businesses in general because I'm seeing so many business owners heading down a path to disaster because they're getting the wrong advice or not looking for any advice at all!  What's really disturbing is the number of "Social Media Professionals" who are breaking these rules!  Especially when it comes to "Facebook Timeline Cover Photos"!

I recently saw a "Facebook Personal Profile" for an advertising company.  They claimed to have the ability to help business owners with their online marketing.  The business name consisted of four words.  The first two words were mashed together to form the "First Name" and the second two words were mashed together to form the "Last Name".  The obvious question is: Do I REALLY want help from a company that doesn't know the difference between a "Facebook Profile" and a "Facebook Business Page"?  They obviously are unaware that they are in violation of Facebook TOS (Terms of Service).  It frightens me to think that they are "helping businesses" if they can't even do it correctly themselves!

Frequently referred to as the "father of the atomic bomb", the late yet well-renowned physicist Enrico Fermi once said, "Ignorance is never better than knowledge". For many businesses, your Facebook page is a ticking time-bomb ready to explode and then disappear altogether.  Facebook recently deleted several pages and profiles because they were in violation of Facebook TOS (Terms of Service).  Years of effort will end up being a complete waste of time, energy, and resources... This week foursquare announced API changes to eliminate privacy concerns and creepy stalker apps like Girls Around Me. So, what are they changing? Foursquare is removing the ability for users to see people (even those not on their friends list) who are checked in to a venue without being checked in to the same venue themselves. and you'll find yourself having to start all over again from the beginning.  Your business can't afford that kind of setback!  

Top 3 Facebook Mistakes Made by Businesses
(Note: These mistakes are a direct violation of Facebook TOS (Terms of Service).  Making any one of these mistakes is grounds for page deletion by Facebook!)

  1. Facebook Profile instead of a Facebook Page
    I've added hundreds of businesses to my "Friends" list over the years.  Several of these businesses have thousands of "Friends".  One has 4915 "Friends"!   That's only 85 short of the maximum 5000 "Friends" that a Facebook profile is allowed to have.  I'm sure that a great deal of effort went into reaching this point.

    Not only is your business at risk to lose its Facebook presence entirely because you're using a Facebook "Profile" instead of a Facebook "Page", but you're missing out on many important Facebook page features that aren't available for Facebook profile pages.  These include but aren't limited to:

    - Unlimited number of "Likes" or followers.
    - Adding Tabs and Apps for promotions, contests, blogs and more.
    - Statistics for monitoring and improving your efforts.
    - Connectivity with other social media platforms your business may be using.

  2. Advertising on your Facebook Timeline Cover Photo
    Nope!  No can do!  I know it may seem like a logical place to display your business contact information, phone numbers, website address, and promote upcoming sales or events.  But those are among the list of things that you CAN'T do with your Facebook Timeline Cover Photo.
  3. Contests which involve "Like", "Share", and "Tag"
    This is a BIG Facebook no-no!  Contests and promotions which involve any element of Facebook interaction features are prohibited.  I see contests where the photo with the most "Likes" wins.  I see Facebook posts instructing people to "Like" or "Share" and those who do will be entered into a drawing.  These types of contests and requests for interaction are direct Facebook violations.

These are just a few of the things that are putting your Facebook presence in jeopardy... and with Facebook well on its way to going public, I can assure you that they'll be scrutinizing profiles and pages even more.

Did you know that if you DO lose your Facebook page or profile, the email address you used to create your Facebook presence can no longer be used with any Facebook pages in the future?

It's time to start taking Facebook and other social networking tools seriously and stop treating them like toys or hobbies. A simple mistake could cost your business dearly!

Join The Conversation

  • Apr 11 Posted 4 years ago AndyBo


    Nearly 1 year on and businesses still have profiles rather than pages.  

    I spoke to one business owner who said that it was better to have a profile as his "reach" was better when posting because Facebook were obviously trying to make pages pay for advertising.

    It wouldn't be best advice, but he did have a point.  If these business profiles aren't being removed then there is no deterrent.

  • Apr 11 Posted 4 years ago in the pocket news


    I recently opened a business and it's been a rough go of it so far. My business is a Magazine and subscription free. Obviously It makes sense to not put specials on your timeline cover. It in my opinion makes things look less organized. Seems to pull down the value of the page before anyone actually clicks on it to view it. I am curious though. I currently am trying to decipher the Facebook insights to get an idea of what people want to see. I see that my reach is kind of low at times and higher at other times. So I have made an attempt to keep a track of what times my posts seem to get more views and or feedback. The issue I'm having is people liking the posts  commenting on them and sharing it even. However I can't see who they are nor can I return a comment or answer their feedback. Is there a way to gain that information? Is there a way to increase page likes? I had talked to numerous people via a pole on a website other than facebook that said run a contest where you tell people that once you reach 250, 500, or 1000 page likes that you will put all the names in a drawing and pull from those names to win a prize. I have yet to run any kind of contest because it again seems like that would be a negative for my facebook. Sure I can draw a name but those people don't know or are unable to see the drawing take place so that seems to detour me from running it. What is a good way to help get the page likes without running a contest or "Begging" for people to like your page?



    In The Pocket News

  • Jan 24 Posted 4 years ago LauriRottmayer

    Just came across this article and it's awesome! And what I've been having a tiny rant about for the past month. As a designer/social media consultant, I simply can't take the risk that one of my clients would lose their page that they have worked so hard for becasue of something that I did. I guess it goes back to the first comment above, that since facebook doesn't crack down, people will continue to accept the risk. It's kind of like speeding. People aren't concerned about gettng caught so they go ahead and put their contact info, etc. on their cover photo. I don't speed either. ;-)

  • William Wells III's picture
    Jun 26 Posted 5 years ago William Wells III

     Greetings Alice...

    Thanks for reading and commenting on this.  You're absolutely right.  FB is, at the moment, very inconsistent.  Although they've shut down some pages (and it doesn't seem to matter whether they have many followers or few followers), they don't appear to have this in their sights... so it makes people complacent.

    That's why it's more important than ever, for those who have chosen to become involved in Social Media as coaches and consultants, to make sure we KNOW what's going on and that we're steering our clients in the RIGHT direction.  I know I wouldn't want the backlash that would undoubtedly come from a client's FB page getting shut down... not to mention, the possibility of a lawsuit!


    William Wells III

  • Jun 26 Posted 5 years ago Cecilia91

    Dear William;

    Thank you very much, your reply was very helpful. Have a great one!

    Cecilia Covarrubias

  • Sheersocial's picture
    Jun 26 Posted 5 years ago Sheersocial

    I just had this conversation with a business owner on Twitter.  She had a personal profile and her fan page looking exactly the same.  The only difference was she added her last name to the business name on the personal profile. As you said, I see this A LOT!

    And the contest that are continually carried out on Facebook will continue unless Facebook ENFORCES its rules.  Right now it appears the powers that be aren't that interested despite the rules on contests and promotions. There appears to be no real crack down so people will continue to do it because the threat doesn't really seem real.

    Facebook changed it's contest/promotions rules back in 2009. Three years later and people are still acting like things haven't changed because Facebook itself has not done a GOOD job in informing users and making major crackdowns. Once such a crackdown hits the news, then MAYBE people will get the message.

  • William Wells III's picture
    Jun 26 Posted 5 years ago William Wells III

    Greetings Cecilia...

    Thanks for taking the time to read and comment!

    At the moment, there doesn't appear to be any limit to the number of "Likes" a page can have.  A good example is "Target". Their Facebook page has more than 14 million "Likes". http://www.facebook.com/target 

    I do the same with my Facebook page.  When I learn that a business has "Liked" my business page, the first thing I do is look at who it is... and, when, appropriate, I "Like" their page.

    Regarding "Advertsising"... I was specifically referencing the "Timeline Cover Photo" area.  The following is directly from the "Facebook Page Terms" section: http://www.facebook.com/page_guidelines.php

    ----- start ----

    All covers are public. This means that anyone who visits your Page will be able to see your cover. Covers can't be deceptive, misleading, or infringe on anyone else's copyright. You may not encourage people to upload your cover to their personal timelines.
    Covers may not include:
    i.    price or purchase information, such as "40% off" or "Download it on socialmusic.com";
    ii.    contact information such as a website address, email, mailing address, or information that should go in your Page's "About" section;
    iii.    references to Facebook features or actions, such as "Like" or "Share" or an arrow pointing from the cover photo to any of these features; or
    iv.    calls to action, such as "Get it now" or "Tell your friends."
    ----- end ----
    Aside from that, the only other thing to stay away from is using Facebook features such as "Like" and "Share" in a contest environment in which those actions would be counted as "votes" in order to win.
    It's certainly ok to discuss and promote your business on your Facebook page.  Links to website content, apps that bring content into your timeline, your photos, videos, etc... all EXCELLENT "promotions" areas.
    Hope this helps!
    William Wells III
  • Jun 26 Posted 5 years ago Cecilia91

    Hi William

    Thanks for the facebook update, but I just have one question? I have a business page I've been getting a lot of likes on it too? Is there a limit on the likes and what do you mean you can't advertise or is that only on your personal profile page? I have a business page and I do accept likes and support those companies  that like my page by liking their page as well. I also post comments about updates on our business and like to add some statements here and there about the way we do business. So is that wrong or what? I guess I just want to know, what is considered breaking the rules on a business page so I can be aware of it. Thank you very much.

    Cecilia Covarrubias 

  • William Wells III's picture
    May 23 Posted 5 years ago William Wells III

    Greetings Mary...

    Appreciate you taking the time to read the article.  The short answer to your question is to create a Facebook Page rather than a Personal Profile.  However, there are many factors to consider when creating this page.  You may find this article of interest. http://www.williamhwells.com/2011/12/19/facebook-business-pages-5-signs-that-you-dont-get-it/

    Thanks again and feel free to contact me if I can be of help!


  • May 22 Posted 5 years ago Restart Your Life

    I want to know what is the right way to post my business on facebook?

  • William Wells III's picture
    May 20 Posted 5 years ago William Wells III

    Greetings Beth...

    Thanks for taking the time to read the article.  My sincere apologies if I seemed unclear.  I'm differentiating between "Profiles" and "Pages".  You clearly comprehend the difference as you have a "profile" for personal use and a "page" for business use.

    Identifying a brand is just fine.  Good examples would be Coca-Cola: https://www.facebook.com/cocacola and Starbucks: https://www.facebook.com/Starbucks just to name a couple.

    Hope this helps!


  • May 20 Posted 5 years ago herzco Naive question: is there any difference between a "page" and a "business page"? (I have a profile for my personal use and a page fo my business. I do get the difference) But it seems that this article mentioned both "pages" and "business pages" so I wanted to see if there is a further difference. Also: can *any type* of identifying information can be put in the header at all?
  • William Wells III's picture
    May 19 Posted 5 years ago William Wells III

    Greetings Paul...

    Thank you very much for taking the time to read it and comment.  It's greatly appreciated.

    I see the same thing... business owners who don't seem to be concerned.  To me... that's a sign that they really don't take social media seriously... and the end result will be wasted efforts, failure, followed by "See... I KNEW social media wouldn't work for us!"

    And I think you're right... they know and feel like they're too small and are flying under the radar.  Perhaps they are.  Not a risk I'd be willing to take.

    Thanks again!


  • May 19 Posted 5 years ago PaulSherland


    Thanks for this reminder of these FB rules.  I was talking with a potential client, a lawyer, about his Facebook page, and pointed out his violation of the cover photo advertising ban.  He wasn't interested in hearing it.  Another local business was using a profile instead of a page and I sent them an email pointing out the difference.  Again, couldn't care less.

    I suspect that many or most of these businesses are aware of the terms of service (TOS) problem and choose to assume the risk.

    Thanks for this excellent article!


  • William Wells III's picture
    May 19 Posted 5 years ago William Wells III

    Completely agree with you Glenn... and there are some pretty good examples out there where people/brands are using the capabilities correctly... and creatively.  Those are the ones who will ultimately stand out above the rest.

    It would be very easy for business owners to do a few quick searches and do some "self-education"... but so many don't.  I've been an avid firearms enthusiest for years... however, I will never take a new handgun to the range until I can take it apart and put it back together blindfolded.  I WANT to know it inside and out before I use it.  People shouldn't be using these tools until they understand them fully.  Especially those who claim they can help others succeed with them!

    Thanks for taking the time to read and comment!

  • May 19 Posted 5 years ago Glenn Davey

    Same thing happens with music artists. Some will promise to release a new track or material online if they get a certain amount of Likes. But it's not a competition or contest to enter, it's just leveraging social networking, the same way they did on MySpace. How could that ever be disallowed? Or if it was, then the whole site would fail. Recommendations is what advertising on social media is all about.

    So there are plenty of things you can do that COMPLETELY avoid the above 4 pitfalls.

    In fact if you're making mistakes like that then you probably should just quit while you're ahead. 

  • May 19 Posted 5 years ago Glenn Davey

    You just repeated what he already said. Of course it's POSSIBLE to use those things in Facebook, but using those things as part of a CONTEST is disallowed and will get your Facebook Page shut down.

    Nothing the guy said was wrong, your post was unnecessary. And now so is this one...

  • May 19 Posted 5 years ago Glenn Davey

    If there are small businesses out there that are making these mistakes then better advice would be "Give up, you're out of your depth, go back to school and update your skills".

    The advice above is all good advice, it's just that if someone in 2012 actually needs that advice, then they'd be better off getting their 12-year-old child to run their marketing company.

    I'm sure the 3 clients they service over the next 5 years will be better for having Facebook Pages instead of Profiles.

    It's like you're giving photography advice to someone who thinks they can start a photography business with just the camera in their iPhone. And you're here to tell them not to do that.

    It's such basic stuff that if someone's making this mistake they should quit NOW, and DO NOT promise any professional work for ANYONE for ANY amount of money. 

  • William Wells III's picture
    May 18 Posted 5 years ago William Wells III

    Wow... I just noticed that a string of text appears in this article that wasn't in the original article I submitted.  The original article can be seen minus this text at:




    FYI... The latter I have no control over once they chose to post it.


    This week foursquare announced API changes to eliminate privacy concerns and creepy stalker apps like Girls Around Me. So, what are they changing? Foursquare is removing the ability for users to see people (even those not on their friends list) who are checked in to a venue without being checked in to the same venue themselves.


    Not that it's a negative thing... however, not my words... nothing to do with the topic... and not sure how it got inserted...




  • William Wells III's picture
    May 18 Posted 5 years ago William Wells III

    Greetings Alison!

    Sorry for the delayed response... but you said quite a bit and I wanted to digest it before responding!

    Greatly appreciate the fact that you read it... and enjoyed your comments.  I'm also flattered that you would consider using it.  Please... feel free to use it... and anything else I've written if it will help!  I've written a number of related articles which can be found at http://www.williamhwells.com .

    It's so important to get business owners to shift their thought process from "these are advertising platforms" to "these are NETWORKING platforms".  Just as I don't want to join a business networking group to hear nothing but ads and self-promotion, I don't want to become connected with businesses via "social NETWORKING" to expose myself to nothing but ads and self-promotion.

    These are opportunities to listen... share... and help one another.  Do that... and the rest will come.  They are highly effective tools when used correctly... however, it takes some education to understand how to use them for a particular business, audience, etc...  It's not going to be the same for eveyone... and too many people are copying what others do... not realizing that some of those "others" are setting the wrong example!

    Again... appreciate the time you spent reading this and sharing your thoughts!  Let me know if I can ever be of help!


  • William Wells III's picture
    May 18 Posted 5 years ago William Wells III

    Greetings Daniel...

    Excellent points!  This article was somewhat of a knee-jerk reaction to getting a "Friend Request" from a "marketing" company claiming to be able to help businesses with their social media... along with seeing other social media "experts" breaking these same rules!

    Impressed with the fact that you understand how to use the other elements as "work arounds".  Might be time for a "How To" article.

    Thanks for taking the time to read it and comment!

  • William Wells III's picture
    May 18 Posted 5 years ago William Wells III

    Greetings Mel...

    Thanks for taking the time to read it!  

    The idea of doing it wrong to obtain contact info... interesting.  It's too bad they don't realize how much time, energy, effort and resources they are wasting... and the long-term damage they are doing to their brand!

    Thanks for the comment!

  • William Wells III's picture
    May 18 Posted 5 years ago William Wells III

    Greetings Jeetu...

    Thanks for taking the time to read the article... I appreciate that!

    I recently wrote an article on the topic of FB contests.  There's a link to FB's rules on this as well.  http://www.williamhwells.com/2012/04/04/facebook_contest_rules/

    The type of contest being run by the domain name company is interesting and could, quite possibly, fall into a "grey area".

    The safest thing to do is use third party apps and integrate them into pages using the additional tabs available on Facebook pages.  There are many out there designed for specific types of promotions and contests... with more continue to be introduced.  Some are free... some are fee-based.

    Good luck and let me know if I can ever help!

  • Digital Age Journalist's picture
    May 18 Posted 5 years ago Digital Age Jou...

    Dear William,

    I am so relieved to finally hear someone say what your wrote in your blog post. I cannot tell you how many times I have also seen the misuse of Facebook personal profiles and business pages. Business owners do NOT listen either when I point this out. I also mention the possilibility of a shut down. Still no response.

    What bothers me equally are the complete strangers with unfinished or very poorly designed pages asking me to friend them. I finally decided that the last request I got was an opportunity to speak up.

    The request was from a complete stranger. Her business page had the small 180x180 icon but no cover photo. I told her that either when she finished her page or if she allowed me to help her finish her page, I would 'LIKE' her but not before that.

    I also told another business owner, actually a nonprofit that it was my understanding that comments, and engaging in conversation are now more important than LIKES.

    I aspire to getting 30 LIKES so that I can have both my 'vanity' shortcut name and the abililty to see my insights. Beyond that, I may invite people to my page who I know and want to see what my latest project is.

    Since I have not engaged in any contests, I will not comment on your third point as others have. In sticking to your first and second, I can only say BRAVO and thank you. I will also be citing this post as one of my sources in my next post about facebook timelines for business page covers. I will also post it on my Page Cover Mastery facebook page. 

    Thank you and sincerely,
    Alison Gilbert, Digital Age Journalist and facebook fanatic

  • May 18 Posted 5 years ago Daniel Porter-Jones

    I think it is also worth mentioning the call to action issue, which basically means no instructional information in the cover image, such as look below or click the like button. Some companies have been very clever by almost using subliminal imagery and words, but generally don't use the cover to ask to do anything. I think what would also be useful is a list of the alternative ways in which you can compensate for the restirctions such as using the About section, which is deceptively only one line on the edit page, but can be used to put all your contact details in. Using your photos which appear in the tabs and reordering and renaming the tabs so they can cover the instructional parts. There are so many workarounds, it would be good to get a comprehensive list up.

  • MelDePaoli's picture
    May 18 Posted 5 years ago MelDePaoli

    Great post!

    #1 is my biggest social media pet peeve! There are so many companies that do that--even after you tell them no and why they shouldn't. I have also come across companies that openingly admit they do it that way so they can get people's contact info and add them to their "lists"--that is AGAINST THE LAW!


  • May 18 Posted 5 years ago allpopular

    Its good to know as I have few fan pages for my websites and I am now going to review them all.

    And some points are very interesting. I saw a big domain registration company run a promotion that if they receive 10K likes within certain time frame, they will release a coupon code for discounted domain registration. Is that kind of thing against Facebook TOS?  Not only this, I have seen some big organizations in telecom and automobile sectors launch similar contents.

    Any tips on how to effectively use fan pages, run competitions etc without violating TOS and at the same time get most out of the FB features?



  • May 17 Posted 5 years ago SociaAna

    Hi Bill,

    I understand, I deal with that same issue with small business owners or people who don't like being told that they're doing it wrong... as far as one hour, a good solid 2 hours of overview, step by step, case studies, would help them evolve ... :>) I'd book it!

    Thank you for the comment and have a great day!

    Ana Lucia

  • William Wells III's picture
    May 17 Posted 5 years ago William Wells III

    Thanks for taking the time to read it Ana!  It was one of those times where I finally had to "vent"... professionally. :-)  Couldn't believe I was getting a "Friend Request" from a marketing company!

    I've got more than 150 Chamber of Commerce "Friends".  If there's EVER been an organization which would benefit by doing it correctly, it's Chambers!  I wish I could have them all in one room for just an hour! 

    Again... thanks!  And let me know if there's ever any way I can help!


  • May 17 Posted 5 years ago SociaAna

    Informative post-some people don't read between the fine line - to some of us it's a no brainer to differenciate between a Facebook Profile and a Facebook Page, and I've warned a few people using their Facebook profile as a business page that they will get shut down, only to have their eyes roll up at me.  

    Writing blog posts to remind everyone (especially the sinners) lol, is a great way to help us all know how to be successful on Facebook.

  • William Wells III's picture
    May 14 Posted 5 years ago William Wells III

    Thank you @KP_Kelly!  It may not get immediate attention at this time... however, as the "going public" issue continues foward, I'm thinking that the reigns will be pulled in a little tighter.

  • William Wells III's picture
    May 14 Posted 5 years ago William Wells III

    Thank you @untouched!

  • May 14 Posted 5 years ago KP_Kelly

    Great Article!  One of my big pet-peeves is businesses using a personal profile page. I always click and report it as a business, though I am not sure if that does anything.

  • May 14 Posted 5 years ago untouched

    Well said. Everyone seems to be an expert these days. Choose who you do business with very carefully.

  • William Wells III's picture
    May 12 Posted 5 years ago William Wells III

    @Dave and @Andreas...

    You are correct regarding the Apps.  My intent was to point out that Facebook prohibits the use of their own Facebook interaction features such as "Share", "Like", etc... in order to cast votes or to be entered in drawings, etc... which is something that I, personally, see quite a bit... even by larger organizations.

    Your comments suggests to me that I should consider rephrasing that a bit to clarify things.

    Thanks for reading and I appreciate the comments!

  • dave@sextonstrategic.com's picture
    May 12 Posted 5 years ago dave@sextonstra...

    Hey William,


    I understand your intent here, but just to set the record straight, here are the rules

    according to Facebook. (Note contests are AOK when using an approved Facebook app).



  • May 12 Posted 5 years ago Andreas Duess

    Although well meaning, your third incorrect to quite correct. It is perfectly possible to run Facebook contests involving "Likes"- for as long as these actions are not a condition of entry or decide on a winner. 

    Likes and Tags can still be used within a greater framework to encourage the social spreading of content. 

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