Friday, February 11, 2011

You have been deactivated - your friend Facebook

Facebook logoImage via Wikipedia


Annie Rubens and I know each other through the Social Media Breakfast Madison meetings.  We had several presentations on Facebook and she came to me with a problem on her page. In fact, the problem was that it wasn't a FB page, it was setup as a profile and Facebook was preparing to deactivate her organization's Facebook presence.  We did a lot of talking, suggesting and brainstorming on different approaches to the situation. Annie wrote up her case study and I get to share it with you so you can learn what not to do.  - Wendy

You’ve been Deactivated
[This post is a guest post by Annie Rubens,  WBA Director of Communications, Wisconsin Builders ]

A message such as this is not a good way to start your day!

I received this rather abrupt post from Facebook (FB) the other day when trying to log in to administer our Wisconsin Builders Association (WBA) page. I was locked out, with no access to change our page or tell our hard-earned 289 fans to go to a different page. It was working so sweet! We had engaged fans, active sharing, our blog posts feeding to it, photos, events and now we had nothing. So this is how a screeching halt feels!

I received multiple robo emails saying essentially, you broke the rules, so you are SOL. “We noticed that the profile held under this email address is being used to maintain a Facebook presence for a brand, business, group, or organization. Facebook profiles are intended to represent individuals only, and it is a violation of Facebook's Statement of Rights and Responsibilities to use Profiles to represent any other entities.”

I replied to three different robo emails with the biggest puppy dog-eyed-sincere-it-was-an-honest-mistake message with equal doses of desperation and promise to abide by their rules. I also scoured the FB discussion board and posted a question asking what happens if a person is deactivated with a legit business.

After multiple conversations with other experts, I was told to just plain accept it, I’ll never hear from Facebook and I’ll never regain access to the page. Google searches confirmed this has happened to 1,000s of other users with equal lack of neither a response nor a solution from FB. During the next few hours I felt grief, stress, anger and helplessness flood through me as I tried to accept the loss of months of work.

But you know what, Facebook was absolutely right. I did break their rules, and I’m writing to tell you what happened and how to avoid it happening to you as many people with social media administrators for their business may be at the same risk.

Early on in my strategy for our page, I strongly felt our use of these tools needed to remain professional to promote the association and not have anything to do with me personally. With that in mind, I created the person “Wis Builder” to be the person that our page was linked to. This is a common workaround that many businesses or social media administrators use to start a page from. However, this is clearly against their rules, so think again if you use a fake name as a person.

One of the robo emails allowed me the opportunity to do a “Disabled Account Appeal” and prove that I indeed was the person with that name, even allowing you to send in a scan of identification. While I’m sure “Wis Builder” is a good driver given the opportunity, she certainly does not have a driver’s license to prove it! So if you use a fake name, you can run into another wall that is avoidable if you don’t go that route.

So at this point I had no access to the page, no way to know who our 289 fans were and no way to update them to tell them this page was now inactive as the page was not set up to allow posts to the wall. The depressing possibility seemed to exist that there would be two WBA pages out there, and no way to stop new people from “Liking” the inactive page.

Lesson #1: Use a real person for the foundation of your page. 

The other opportunity I would have had for a solution to regain access was if there was an alternative administrator to the page. This is a very easy step and one that would have quickly resolved the situation. Go to “see all” next to your Fans box and next to each person is a “Make Admin” button. Of course, choose carefully and have an understanding with that person if they will be doing active posting or not so you have consistency with your page message strategy.

Lesson #2: Designate more than one person to have administrative rights to your page.

The same rule of thumb applies to any of your Linked In groups. Designate one owner, but have multiple “managers” who can then take over ownership if there is a change in the staff who run the page.

After finding a sense of resolve to just deal with the situation and rebuild the page, I got to work creating my personal page that I would use as a foundation for a new WBA page. With sadness I happened to notice a new email in the folder designated for FB messages, as I figured it was just another robo message saying my goose was cooked. Nevertheless, I looked, and I swear a chorus of angels started singing with the miracle of an actual reply from a person at Facebook!

“After reviewing the situation, we have temporarily reactivated this account. To avoid being disabled in the future, please make the necessary changes to comply with our policy.” I let out the loudest WHOOPEE you can imagine!

“If this account is used solely to maintain a Page, please add your separate, personal profile as an admin for that Page, and delete the account under this email address. If this is a shared account created to permit multiple employees to maintain a Page, please keep in mind that Pages may have multiple admins. Page admins' personal information is not published to fans, just as admins do not gain access to fans' personal information.”

Are you kidding me? They even included links to the relevant help pages! It took me all of 5 seconds to get in and quickly designate 3 other WBA employees as administrators! Feeling like I was working against an unknown timeframe of access, I also downloaded of the profile information, another thing I never paid any attention to. 

“Unfortunately, Facebook does not allow you to merge accounts. You need to copy your profile content (e.g. photos, notes, etc.) and add it manually to your more active account. You can easily do this by downloading your information from Facebook. This will save any information that only exists on your Facebook to a file on your computer.”

Lesson #3 Download your profile and save it to your computer.

To download your information from Facebook, follow the instructions in the Help Center: http://www.facebook.com/help/?page=18830

Once I had that download, I did not shed a single tear as I said goodbye Wis Builder! With a huge sense of relief, I deactivated that account and shook my head in disbelief at my good fortune for a chance to make it right and retain our page. I did send an email reply to the wonderful soul who did reply to me expressing my sincere gratitude. You can imagine my surprise when I not only heard back from a real person via email, but my post to the help center received a reply as well!

“Question: Personal account disabled that was associated with legit Business Page. How get access back to page?”
Last Reply: If that profile was the only administrator, then the page will be automatically deleted within 14 days of the deletion of the profile.If not, have another administrator make you an administrator on your new profile.

Lesson #4: Pages do expire with people.

Knowing this was helpful as it solved the worry that I would have two WBA pages alive, with only access to one. If I did nothing else but deactivate Wis Builder, I now know the page would have eventually been deleted as well.

The last safeguard I put in place was to add additional emails to the account. Go to Account settings>emails to add an email address. This helps assure if an employee ties a page to their personal account that they will still have the opportunity to retain their personal account if they leave the business and move administrative rights to someone else. This is the best arrangement for both the person and the business. If a change happens down the road the transition is seamless and access is retained by the business to their page. It comes to mind in this list of lessons because I know of more than one situation when an employee who managed all the social media moved onto another position and the business is the one who suffers at the lack of access.

Lesson #5 add alternative emails

So this is a post about lessons, redemption and second chances. If you are a business owner who has designated an employee or contracted with someone else to manage your pages, make sure some of these safeguards are put into place. If you are a social media professional who manages pages for businesses, you may consider adding some of these safeguards as part of your service and page set-up strategy.

Do you have a FaceBook story like this?




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