In February, Facebook suspended dozens of Pages for Cannabis-related businesses. From edibles companies such as Incredibles in Denver to marketers like Center Mass Media. Some got their Pages back, some had to start from scratch.
So how can you avoid losing your Facebook Page and followers? [READ MORE]
First, take a look at Facebook’s Advertising Policies. Even if you aren’t placing ads on Facebook (which can be challenging for Cannabis), Facebook considers Facebook Pages a form of advertising. So what does Facebook specifically say is off limits?
This comes directly from Facebook’s updated advertising rules as of May 5, 2016:
- Ads must not constitute, facilitate, or promote illegal products, services or activities.
- Ads targeted to minors must not promote products, services, or content that are inappropriate, illegal, or unsafe, or that exploit, mislead, or exert undue pressure on the age groups targeted.
- Ads must not promote the sale or use of the following:
- Illegal, prescription, or recreational drugs;
- Tobacco products and related paraphernalia;
- Unsafe supplements, as determined by Facebook in its sole discretion;
- Weapons, ammunition, or explosives; or Adult products or services (except for ads for family planning and contraception).
Cannabis falls under the above rules because it is federally illegal.
Also note that Community Standards apply, and Facebook clearly states that:
Governments sometimes ask us to remove content that violates local laws, but does not violate our Community Standards. If after careful legal review, we find that the content is illegal under local law, then we may make it unavailable only in the relevant country or territory.
Here are a few potentially helpful steps to take to try to minimize your risk:
1. Remove any common terms related to Cannabis from your Page name. Even if it is your company name, look for logical and creative variations.
2. Restrict the viewing of your page to 21. Most alcohol companies do this. The downside is that your Page will no longer publicly available and won’t appear in Google. Users can only see it if logged in and 21 or over. The upside is that you can make best efforts to avoid marketing to minors.
3. Target every single post to only the states where Cannabis is currently legal in some form. Facebook only allows Country and Age restrictions for Pages and not by state, but state-by-state post targeting is available for a fee as low as $5 (depending on the number of Likes your Page has).
4. Use good judgement when posting. Avoid language that encourages consumption, especially excessive use. Watch your language overall so that a small “offensive” post doesn’t trigger a larger investigation.
5. Feature lifestyle and ancillary products, educational content and news published by trusted sources.
6. Do not include photos and pricing for illicit substances.
While the above may seem onerous, for those at high risk of losing their Pages and followings, any of these steps could help keep your Page intact (no guarantee, of course).
Unfortunately, there is no single way to ensure your Page is safe. But playing by Facebook’s rules can help.
Now if only Facebook would be consistent with their rules and rule enforcement and help business owners comply with their rules by being open, transparent and responsive. But that’s another story…
How are you keeping your Facebook in compliance? How have you gotten your Page reopened if Facebook closed it?
We analyze and refine digital marketing tactics for the Cannabis industry. This article originally appeared in our monthly email. To receive our digital marketing tips before anyone else, click to subscribe.