How do you tell one of your favourite clients that their Facebook Page, which has been painstakingly built up to over 20,000 loyal and engaged fans has disappeared?

Very carefully. And by email.

“Hi guys, We’re having a little trouble from Facebook after our last post … We’re working through the right channels to get it resolved asap but just thought I would make you aware.”

Mosh is an independent social media agency that has been operating in NZ for a couple of years quietly collecting experience, clients & case studies. We want to share some thoughts on this evolving world of social media and thought we’d begin with a war story. Quite topical actually, as we see similar issues currently affecting other Facebook Pages in NZ.

Every day we see businesses and brands trying to build their Facebook fan base through various means. Some use a good thorough strategy of connecting their existing contact base and engaging them with strong content; some buy fans through advertising; and some use promotions which we quite often see breaching Facebook’s terms and conditions. “Everybody else is doing it” they cry, unwittingly.

NZ is very far away from Palo Alto and you would be forgiven for thinking “Facebook won’t care what we do here”. But they do care, dear reader, they do.

About two years ago we developed HELL Pizza’s social media program which we continue to manage and consult on, and they have become one of our favourite clients. Early on in the piece like many others we ran a giveaway promotion on Facebook and were rapped across the knuckles for doing so with a friendly warning from their local advertising rep. “Stop doing that” said Facebook. And we did. We then spent countless hours on learning the Ts & Cs by rote, and evangelically spreading the Good Word to follow the rules to friends and colleagues.

However, one day it all went wrong.

“Hello, Your Page “Hell Pizza” has been removed for violating our Terms of Use.”

Whoa.

Late 2010, HELL was sponsoring a charity, The Little Lotus Project, which was to see two Wellington volunteers travel to the Thai/Burma border in December 2010 to raise money for refugee children. HELL had pledged $1 for every ‘Like’ The Little Lotus Project Facebook page received.

We hadn’t come up with this particular strategy but we did promote it on the HELL Page.  It was very soon after that the Page was taken down. To this day we still don’t know how we offended; was it by promoting ‘Likes’ to a Page? Or because we were raising money for a charity directly on Facebook? Or because Facebook’s spiders picked up on keywords and they pulled the trigger first to ask questions later?

For whatever reason the Page was removed.

We discovered contacting Facebook directly was like trying to get a direct line to God. It was like trying to find Permit A 38 in The Twelve Tasks of Asterix. The NZ advertising rep wasn’t able to assist. Nor did the multiple feedback/contact forms we dutifully filled out. Weeks had passed and we were no closer to regaining the Page. The HELL bosses were really good but we knew their patience could only last so long. We were at a loss when one Sunday night I had a phone call from one of the members from The Little Lotus Project.

Pat had felt a little responsible for our plight from the beginning feeling it was our charity drive for them that had resulted in the Page removal and he had constantly been in touch.

“Jon, I’ve got the HELL Page up and running for you”.

My trembling fingers typed in facebook.com/HELLpizza and lo, there it was in all its glory.

“How the hell did you do that?”

Pat, this wonderful  man, that weekend had popped in on a friend in Newtown. This friend was having a bbq. The friend’s flat mate was there, and so was her brother over from Australia. And guess who he worked for? Facebook in Australia 🙂 “No problem” he said when Pat relayed our problem. “I’ll turn that back on when I get home“. And he did.

The HELL Page has been up since looking better than ever; our clients are pleased; and our sphincters unclenched. We now take a murderous amount of care when discussing Facebook etiquette with our clients and that has helped us stand above the cowboys out there. So unless you have a direct line to God, or want to routinely crash bbqs in Newtown, we suggest you take the Terms & Conditions seriously. We do.

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