With the introduction of Timeline for pages a couple of weeks ago came new guidelines about how businesses can and can’t use the Timeline to build their businesses.  Most notable are the guidelines about cover photos, the large images shown at the top of every Timeline.  At first glance, this seems like prime real estate to help you build your brand.  It’s the perfect place to announce your business’s sales, promotions, website address, etc.  But, did you know that Facebook has set down strict guidelines about how this space can be used and adding any of those announcements above can result in your page being removed from Facebook?  Oh boy, would they really do that?  You bet ya, and I’ve already heard about it happening!

When it comes to Facebook, we have to keep in mind that we are on their site, so we need to play by their rules.  They may not seem fair, and we may not always know their reasoning behind them, but the bottom line is it’s their site and they can do whatever the heck they want to with it.  So, if you value your Facebook page (which you should if you’re a business owner), then you need to make sure you’re always in compliance with what they’re asking of you.  It’s a small price, really, for big rewards.  You do what they say, you get exposure for your business.  Pretty simple!

So just what are these new guidelines?  Let me break them down for you.  After that, I’ll share some creative ways you can work around them so that you can still effectively build your brand.

What you can’t include…

  • Price or purchase information, such as “40% off” or “Download it at our website”.
  • Contact information such as a website address, email, mailing address, or information that should go in your Page’s “About” section.
  • References to Facebook features or actions, such as “Like” or “Share” or an arrow pointing from the cover photo to any of these features.
  • Calls to action, such as “Get it now’ or “Tell your friends”.
  • Covers must not be false, deceptive or misleading, and must not infringe on third parties’ intellectual property.
What you can include…
  • When designing your cover image, include descriptive text about the products or services you offer.  Be sure to appeal to your audience by pointing out the features and benefits.  But, to remain compliant, don’t tell them how to get your products or how much they cost.  Just think of this as a little teaser.
  • In your “about” section, make the very first part of your section your website address.  That way it will be prominently visible right under your cover image so people can easily go to your website after you hook them in with your cover.
  • Include as many photos of your products as you’d like.  Remember, people tend to buy with their eyes, so use the best photos you have.
  • Add a QR code, but just don’t tell people to scan it.  Having the code there won’t violate the guidelines, but asking people to scan it would be considered a call to action.  Most people know, however, that they can scan a code, so if they’re curious about your business, they’ll likely go ahead and scan it.
So, if you’re one of the many pages I’ve seen lately that includes their website in their cover photo, I hope you go back and change it immediately!  There are many creative ways to use your cover photo and I’d hate to see someone’s page get taken down for not following the rules!
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