Facebook in 2013: What You Need to Know

by Ken Mueller on January 3, 2013 · 23 comments

white 15 Facebook in 2013: What You Need to KnowSend to Kindle

cover photo guidelines Facebook in 2013: What You Need to Know2013 is here and it’s a good time to assess what you are doing online for your small business or nonprofit, and make some evaluations and changes.

One thing that you need to be aware of is that there are some changes taking place at Facebook, and you need to stay on top of them to make sure that you are in compliance with their Terms of Service.

The reason for these changes is that Facebook is a business. They need to make money. With last year’s public offering, the company took a bit of a bath and has some work to do. When the stock went public last May, it was at about $42 per share. It quickly dropped and hit a low of just over $18 in September. Since then, it has slowly climbed back up to around the $28 level, and is showing signs of a very slow rebound.

The problem for Facebook is that they now have two different groups of people to keep happy: investors and users. And even with the users, they need to balance the desires and interests of both individual users and business users. Not an easy balancing act, but I think they are learning.

Most of the moves that we have seen in the last half of 2012 and will see in 2013 are a part of that balancing act: trying to keep users happy while generating revenue and profit for stakeholders.

With that in mind, here are are a few of the things happening with Facebook in 2013, including some things you can expect to see:

1. Timeline Cover Photo – Whether it’s out of a desire to maintain a clean and spam-free look on business pages, or a need to sell advertising, Facebook is now cracking down on the cover photos that are being used on business pages. That’s the big photo at the top which is really only seen when people visit your business page. One of the main reasons behind this is to keep the platform free of anything that looks like a banner ad. As of January 15th, here are a few of the rules which will apply to the cover photo:

  • No call to action – You can use no language asking people to like your page, download anything, share anything, etc.
  • No promotional information – No price, discount, or purchase information can be included.
  • No contact information – You can’t use your cover photo to promote your website, phone number, or address.
  • No more than 20% text – The cover image is intended to be an image. Too many words, and you risk having it removed. Facebook will be offering a tool to help you determine whether your images are in violation.
  • No copyright violations – Interpretation of this is still up in the air, but it appears Facebook has been deleting cover photos that aren’t original to the user. In other words, don’t use just any image you find on the web. The problem with the interpretation here is that some services and businesses want their fans to use their pre-produced cover photos. Facebook might not allow that practice to continue.

2. Advertising on Facebook – The rule regarding cover photos having less than 20% text also applies to the images you use in Facebook ads or promoted posts. While you can post images on your wall that have more text, you won’t be able to use them in ads or promotes posts.

3. Facebook contests – These rules have been in place for a long time, and yet I still see businesses, and sadly, marketing companies, running contests that are in violation of the platform’s Terms of Service. Simply put, if you are running a contest on your page that involves liking the page or liking or commenting on a status or image, you are in violation. If you are running a contest on your own on your wall without the help of an approved third-party app (such as Wildfire), you are in violation. This isn’t new. What is new is that Facebook is starting to crack down.

4. False profiles – If you have a profile page set up under your business name, or the name of something other than a human, you are in violation. Facebook has made a concerted effort over the past few months to shut down profiles that aren’t for real people. I’m actually surprised at how many businesses are still using personal profiles. But the sad fact is, if you are doing so and have built a community on a profile rather than a page, you risk losing that entire community.

To wrap it up in one sentence:

Facebook is cracking down

Whereas in the past they have looked the other way at violations, now they are being more vigilant. They want a uniform user experience across the board, and want people to take the TOS seriously. Some of these are new rules, while others are merely the enforcement of longstanding rules. Either way, it pays to heed the stipulations of the Terms of Service.

As Facebook seeks to keep users happy, they also need to show a profit for their stakeholders. There are bound to be many more changes, subtle and not so subtle, in the months to come. We probably won’t like some of those changes, but we should be ready for them, as Facebook continues to try to improve the user experience, while at the same time making money.

How will these changes in Facebook’s rules and enforcement affect you and your business?

 Facebook in 2013: What You Need to Know
Buffer
18 comments
RebeccaTodd
RebeccaTodd

Thanks Ken! I know this is an older post, but when I am mounting my soapbox to point out to people when they are in violation of Face's TOS, I always hit your blog. Thank you for gathering all of this in one place, and making it all readable.  I appreciate your efforts! 

girlseeksplace
girlseeksplace

Okay, so I have a question. I'm trying to get to 200 fans. When I do, I want to give away a copy of my book. I can't run that contest on Facebook, correct? Can I run it on my blog and have people like my page as one of the criteria for entry?

RupertWhiting
RupertWhiting

Thanks for this post and I learned some new stuff BUT I don't agree with the premise that they are trying to please investors.  As far as I know Mark Zuckerburg wrote before the floatation saying that he was running the business the way he always had done and would give zero weight to the needs of investors.  I don't know what is behind these changes (some welcome, others less so) but I would suggest that if he is staying true to his word that it has more to do with brand evolution than normal business practice.

AdamHanly
AdamHanly

Good, this is what facebook should have been anyways. Goodbye Body-By-Vi spammers and other guerilla marketing opportunists!

LizJostes
LizJostes

I didn't realize FB had started cracking down on businesses using a personal profile. They definitely need to; just hadn't heard of that happening yet.

janetoberholtzer
janetoberholtzer

Oops, no contact info on the cover photo? Guess I need a new photo. 

I'm kind of surprised all of these apply to nonprofits also.


AmyMccTobin
AmyMccTobin

Arrrrrrrrghhhhhh!  I would be all for Facebook cracking down if my news feed wasn't littered with Sponsored Stories and Promoted Posts... I don't mind the posts from the pages I LIKED - that's why I liked them. But Facebook talking about cleaning up makes me think they should start at home.  

Gini said: are we the user, or are we the product? They don't know.  

Of course I'm still on there a lot, but only because another network hasn't figured out how to do it better.  I have zero respect for their rules, although I obey them so I'm not struck down.

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@LizJostes They made a big deal about it in the final quarter or last year, as an overall sweep of what they call "Fake" profiles. Business uses were included in that, but as you can imagine, it takes some time. They even asked people to help out by reporting the pages.

Latest blog post: cover-photo-guidelines

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@janetoberholtzer Well they have to keep the experience the same across the board. I think for a nonprofit there can be  much better  uses of the cover photo as you seek to tell your story, rather than having contact info.

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@AmyMccTobin I'm trying to be understanding of the rules, and most of them make sense.  I don't see too  many promoted posts at all, and that's more a business issue than a Facebook  issue. And businesses that use it too much will be penalized by virtue of being spammy and getting hidden or reported (both of which I have done).  And I think they understand that we are BOTH the user and the product. They just have to balance it in a way that keeps everyone happy. Ever try to keep a billion people happy?

AmyMccTobin
AmyMccTobin

@KenMueller @AmyMccTobin Sponsored stories are littering my feed.  I know they can't keep a billion people happy, but they've made a lot of businesses unhappy - THAT is what I think their big mistake is.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] 2013 is here and it's a good time to assess what you are doing online for your small business or nonprofit, and make some evaluations and changes. One thing that you need to be aware of is that there are some changes … seo wordpress 2013 Facebook in 2013: What You Need to Know seo wordpress 2013 2013 is here and it's a good time to assess what you are doing online for your small business or nonprofit, and make some evaluations and changes. One thing that you need to be aware of is that there are some changes .. seo wordpress 2013 Facebook in 2013: What You Need to Know [...]

  2. [...] Facebook is hoping to clean up the look of business pages, but this policy update can be pretty frustrating as the cover photo’s prime page real estate has been used by many as a perfect location to promote your company and share information. Read more about how Facebook is cracking down and updating policies for business and profile pages here: [...]

  3. [...] What Small Businesses Need to Learn from Nonprofits, (And What Many Nonprofits Need to Relearn) says: January 17, 2013 at 5:01 am [...]

  4. [...] The rule regarding cover photos having less than 20% text also applies to the images you use in Facebook ads or promoted posts. While you can post images on your wall that have more text, you won’t be able to use them in ads or promotes posts. (source: InklingMedia) [...]

Previous post:

Next post: