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An Insider’s Guide to Promoting Banned Products on Social Media

Find out which industries are forbidden to promote on major social networks and the dos and don’ts of promoting banned products on social media.

Insider's Guide to Promoting Banned Products on Social Media

Despite the constantly changing social media algorithms affecting your organic reach, social media remains as one of the top digital platforms to promote your brand.

But if you represent one of those banned verticals, building a presence on the social web can be challenging.

This is partly why most marketers from such industries would either avoid having their brands to be on social media entirely, or find illegal methods of using it.

One such example would be startups who are building their products on blockchain and are attempting to raise capital through Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs).

Once Facebook announced that the platform would prohibit ads that “promote financial products and services associated with misleading or deceptive promotional practices,” it was only a matter of time before the other platforms followed suit.

And followed, they did, indeed.

What Is Banned on Social Media?

Before we dive into the do’s and don’ts of promoting banned products on social media, let’s first look at the list of industries that are forbidden on the major social networks (like Facebook’s):

  • Tobacco products and related items.
  • Online pharmacies.
  • Alcohol or alcohol related products.
  • Unsafe supplements, as determined by Facebook in its sole discretion.
  • Sensational content, as determined by Facebook in its sole discretion.
  • Controversial content, as determined by Facebook in its sole discretion.
  • Adult products or services (except family planning and contraception).
  • Dating services, apps or related sites.
  • “Risky” financial services products and cryptocurrencies.
  • Regional lotteries.
  • Get-rich-quick schemes, pyramids and MLMs Subscription services with auto-renew options.
  • Firearms, weapons, ammunition, or accessories.
  • Securities alleged insider tips.
  • Adverts containing before/after photos – e.g. weight loss or cosmetic surgery.

While these are verticals that are banned, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t build your brand on these social networks at all.

It merely means that you won’t be able to explicitly advertise your products and services (say, your dating app, or your health supplement, for example).

What You Need to Keep in Mind First

While social media can still be a useful source of organic traffic, there are some crucial rules to keep at the back of your mind first before putting any strategy together.

Don’t Be Tempted by Your Competitors

You may be running a health supplement business, and while surfing on Facebook, you might be seeing an ad by one of your competitors, showing a ‘before and after’ photo ad creative.

This might lead you to become tempted to run the same thing, but more often than not, you could be given the smackdown by Facebook, and have your entire Page shut down and ad account to be banned.

Don’t Link to Prohibited Content

Posting links on your social media platforms may seem like an innocent move, but most major social networks have algorithms that watch what kind of content you’re posting, and it’s likely that they would also have spiders crawling your site’s content to determine if you’re violating any of their guidelines.

Don’t Ignore the Rules

Someone on your team might come to you with a bright idea of building a new social media account, under a completely different brand name so that the risk of being banned is limited.

Again, you might be tempted to start applying creative tactics to go around the social networks’ regulations, but such efforts would only be a lost cause.

What You Can Do to Promote Your Forbidden Products on Social Media

Now that we have addressed what you should be avoiding let’s look at some of the things you can do to acquire a sustainable source of traffic, leads, and even customers from social media.

1. Interactive Quizzes

Interactive quizzes have been one of more powerful lead generation tactics that top marketers have been using as part of their toolbox.

It might seem a little counter-intuitive, given that audiences would have to answer a few questions first before providing their contact information to you, but interactive quizzes have been proven to decrease cost per lead acquisitions for a lot of top marketers.

If you’re in the weight loss business, some ideas of how you can run an interactive quiz on social media would be, “How much weight can you lose in the next 30 days”, or “What would be the most effective weight loss method?”

Dr. Tami Screenshot

2. Using Facebook Live

Live videos can attract a healthy volume of audiences on Facebook, and it can be particularly helpful to address a set of common objections that audiences might have about your products and services.

So consider running a “Ask me Anything” Facebook Live session.

Plus, such activities can be great for drawing social media engagement, which should help in raising the organic reach of your future posts too.

3. How-to Videos

Contents that consists of actionable advice are always helpful no matter what kind of industry you represent.

If you’re promoting a dating service, for instance, producing a video around “10 topics to talk about during your first date” can be a brilliant way of building engagement and brand awareness on social media.

It might also be worthwhile to set aside some advertising budget to promote such content on social media.

4. Working with Influencers

Influencers can be another source of goldmine for potential customers because such individuals or groups would already have a community that follows them.

A recent study has shown that influencer marketing can generate as much as 11X the ROI of banner advertising.

The key to making sure that such efforts will work for you is to work with as many relevant influencers as possible at once.

The more they talk about you, the more reach your brand will naturally get, which helps to improve your credibility and brand perception.

Will It Pass the Congress Test?

Now that you’ve learned a few tips on promoting banned verticals on social media, it’s likely that you might find some success using it.

But before posting anything up on social, you should always keep in mind of what I would call the “Congress Test.”

U.S. Congress Test

Imagine a scenario where Mark Zuckerberg is being cross-examined by the U.S. Congress again, but this time, the Congress members would show your campaign to Zuckerberg and ask if he would allow such campaigns to run.

Your guess to how Zuckerberg would answer that question should determine whether such campaigns and activities would be worth running on social media.

More Social Media Resources:

Image Credits

Featured Image:
Screenshot taken by author, November 2018

Marcus Ho Director at Digital Marketing Agency Singapore

Marcus is the founder of Brew Interactive, an inbound digital marketing agency that specializes in marketing to the affluent audience ...

An Insider’s Guide to Promoting Banned Products on Social Media

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