Episode 19:  Why Your Facebook Ads Get Rejected

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Rejection hurts. I don’t care who you are, or where you’re from or what you do, getting rejected by anything or anyone has a little – or sometimes a lot - of sting to it.

And if you’re like a lot of people out there, you already have a love-hate relationship with Facebook. So, when it’s Facebook that’s doing the rejecting, after you’ve put a whole lot of time and effort into creating an ad or that perfect post that you’re going to boost… and you’ve finally worked up the courage to give Facebook your credit card information… you hit the BOOST POST button, and then… Facebook says “YOUR AD HAS NOT BEEN APPROVED,” you feel like one of those cartoon characters whose face turns beet red and then their whole head turns into a steam whistle until it explodes.

I know. I’ve been there. I’ve experienced the same frustration and rage that comes along with that situation - when you’re ready to commit and take your marketing to the next level, and then rejection just deflates you like a popped balloon.

Through years of experience, trial, research, and many a chat with a Facebook customer service representative, I’ve found a few tricks that will help you steer clear of Facebook ad rejection.

In this episode, I’m sharing with you the things you can do – and the things you can’t do – that will help your Facebook ad get approved.

For today’s episode, I want you to think about Facebook as a foreign country.  In this foreign country, at any time and for any reason, they can make up new rules to enforce, decide their own standards, how you should conduct yourself when you’re in their country, in other words, what’s appropriate for their country. 

You thought you knew the lay of the land in this country, but the rules are ever changing and sometimes hard to understand, especially for Facebook ads or boosting posts for your nonprofit organization.

The good news is that MOST of the things that Facebook won’t allow in ads or boosted posts are pretty common sense, and probably NOT something related to your nonprofit.  There are, however, a few exceptions to the rules that you should know about because they MIGHT actually relate to your nonprofit.  Here are a few types of ads Facebook generally prohibits:

  • Smoking, but anti-smoking campaigns are acceptable. You can’t use a picture of someone smoking though, but you can use the universal sign for NO SMOKING – the cigarette with a big red circle and a line through it…probably you’d be in the clear with that one. 
  • Illegal drugs, pharmaceuticals or even products related to those things. Facebook will allow you to advertise about rehab programs and support groups for drug addiction. So, your picture might be of a person talking to a counselor and your text clearly spelling out that the ad is for a rehab or support group. 

If your nonprofit organization deals with anything on the long “prohibited list,” you have to figure out how to make your ads fit their guidelines. 

You might feel like Facebook has something against you if you’re dealing with a hot-button issue, or something politically charged, but I’m telling you, you have to find a way to RISE ABOVE and play by their rules. Facebook is not personally victimizing you. This isn’t personal. This is Facebook’s land, and we have to play by their rules.

When creating a Facebook ad or a post you want to boost, there are “little things” that can get that ad rejected for what seems like no reason at all.  Here are some of the most common mistakes:

  • Using too much text IN your image. If you have a picture of a girl on a beach and add an entire list of the events for the year on the picture – that’s too much text in an image.  Keep your message on your image short and sweet.
  • Targeting personal attributes. Basically, you can’t say “YOU” or an equivalent word, in your ad or post.
    • Facebook says you can’t refer to any user’s “race, ethnic origin, religion, beliefs, age, sexual orientation or practices, gender identity, disability, medical condition (including physical or mental health), financial status, membership in a trade union, criminal record, or name.”

You can say, “Pregnant?” but you can’t say “Are you pregnant?”  You can say, “Manage depression” but you can’t say “Manage YOUR depression.”  You can say, “Meet Christian students” but you CAN’T say “Meet other Christian students.”

See what I mean? You can’t even HINT that you are targeting someone’s… well… anything!

So next time you get a little flag from Facebook telling you that your ad or your post doesn’t meet community standards, take a look and see if your message is saying anything that could come across as targeting any kind of personal attribute.

  • Poor writing or grammar. 72 exclamation points doesn’t get Facebook’s stamp of approval. Neither does misspelling, incorrect punctuation, or all caps.
  • Relevancy. All the parts of your ad need to be related to each other, and to the audience you’re targeting.
  • You need more time. Facebook advises that ads or boosted posts perform better if they run for at least 4 days. Don’t wait until the day before your event to boost a post, because they might let it run at all.
  • Your landing page might need help. Facebook policy includes the right to deny an ad if the landing page, or the website you’re linking to is spammy, or it has those same 72 exclamation points, is a dead end, is defective, or has anything sketchy about it.
    • If you have tried EVERYTHING under the sun to adhere to ALL of Facebook’s policies about ads, and you’re still getting denied, go over the landing page you’re linking to with a fine-tooth comb – that might be the problem.

About that special authorization process… If Facebook has given you notice that you need to get special authorization to run ads, you have to do it.  Why?  Facebook is ensuring the authenticity of political ads or anything that has to do with political issues or issues of national importance. And when I say ANYTHING related to political issues, I mean ANYTHING. Even if it’s a local election in your county –

Believe me, I asked.

You might be able to get away without going through this authorization process for a while, but there will come a day that Facebook will say, “No more ads for you” until you do it.”

What does this special authorization process entail?

Well, the good news is - it’s less invasive than a trip to the dermatologist, but it is kind of a hassle.  The whole process involves:

  1. Uploading a picture of your ID to Facebook,
  2. Verifying your phone number,
  3. Then they send you a letter by SNAIL MAIL with a numeric code
  4. You enter that number into the Facebook page they give you

The process takes about a week or so, and once you’ve completed it, the authorization is good for ALL the accounts you manage. Once you’ve got the green light, you’re good across the board for Facebook.

I just want to encourage you – YOU CAN NAVIGATE THIS. Just follow the prompts from Facebook, use the tips I mentioned in this episode, and above all, don’t take it personally if Facebook rejects your ad. If you want “play,” these are the rules of the game that everybody has to play by.

Be brave! This isn’t rocket science. It’s Facebook. YOU CAN CONQUER FACEBOOK! And when you do, I promise, you are going to feel SO ACCOMPLISHED! You can do this!

Think of something scary you have done in the past – have you ever taken a big trip by yourself? Have you ever run a race? Gone on a big hike? Had a child? Adopted a dog? Bought a house? Moved to a new place? Quit your job? Figuring out how to use Facebook PALES IN COMPARISON to all the other amazing things you’ve already done!

Look at all you’ve accomplished in your life already, and then look at Facebook. YOU CAN DO THIS! You’ve already done so much more.


Links I mentioned in this episode:

https://www.facebook.com/policies/ads

Free Guide:  How to make really good Facebook and Instagram posts

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