5 Forbidden Phrases You Absolutely Must Avoid in Your Facebook Ad
All caps and too many exclamation points are just the beginning. Facebook is cracking down on 'pain points' content and get-rich-quick schemes.
If you haven’t heard or had this experience yet, Facebook is cracking down on ad copy from businesses around the world. Small businesses and entrepreneurs in particular now need to tread lightly with ads that may seem overly targeted or misleading in any way, as the platform has begun rejecting ads at a far greater rate than ever before.
In fact, ads getting rejected is one of the biggest challenges we see with our clients at the Facebook marketing agency I founded. The reasons why that happens apply widely -- to relationship coaches, therapists, counselors, institutes and book promotion campaigns being disapproved by the site. Here’s an example of what a non-approval can look like:
Explanation: What happens if you see a message like this? You’ll get a flag in your account from Facebook and your ads will not be allowed to run until you fix them. Receive too many of these warnings and Facebook may shut down your advertising account altogether. (There are work-arounds in that case, but it’s best not to get into this situation in the first place.)
Avoiding these problems is often as simple as following the advice below. Just remember: The advice won't apply equally to everyone. Some accounts -- like those that have more of an advertising history -- can get away with more. In fact, you’ll see plenty of them in your newsfeed. But many accounts are having an increasingly tough time getting their ads approved. The trouble usually comes down to one of these five forbidden phrases
1. "Are you a busy mom with no time to make healthy meals for your family?"
What FB doesn't like: Ads that speak too directly to viewers or pain points. Facebook calls these Personal Attributes.
Just as the Google algorithm knows when you're keyword-stuffing to push your page higher in the search results, the Facebook algorithm knows when you're using too much "you" or "your" language to call out directly to viewers online. While a few instances of "you" or "your" are passable, we have emails from Facebook's reps themselves saying that if your ads are struggling, it’s best to omit the "yous" and "yours."
Remember: Facebook wants your ads to blend into the newsfeed and not look much different from a post you would see from a friend.
The solution: Use stories, testimonials, or your own personal experiences or results. To avoid seeing your ads disapproved, remove as many instances of "you" and "your" from your ad copy as possible. The ad above could benefit from an easy re-work on the copy: “Dinner is ready! Meal delivery for busy families on the go.”
2. "STOP WHAT YOU'RE DOING AND CLICK HERE!!!"
What Facebook doesn't like: Too frequent a use of all capital letters or lots of exclamation marks!!!! (in fact, overuse of punctuation is sometimes flagged by Facebook under Grammar& Profanity.
Remember: You don't want to "yell" at potential customers. That's the impression all caps gives, producing the opposite reaction of what you hope to achieve.
The solution: Use caps sparingly and only to emphasize really important words, and avoid the rookie mistake of using to many exclamation points to get your point across. But what if you really want to emphasize your point? That's easy. Play with emoji instead!
3. "Tired of diets that don't work? Want to lose weight without counting calories?"
Facebook doesn't like: Sensitive topics. Health, weight loss, beauty products, anti-aging, supplements ... these all fall under "sensitive topics" that are closely monitored by Facebook. It addresses this problem under its Personal Attributes policy, Personal Health policy or Misleading or False Content policy.
Remember: Avoid using pain points or "negative" words like diet, weight loss, fat, depression, anxiety, stress, fear, overwhelm, terrified, etc...
The solution: Use positive language instead. Focus on how you want people to feel after using the product. For example, instead of “Lose 10 pounds this summer!” try, “Feel balanced, fit and this summer. Join my free Fitness Challenge!”
4. "Generate $5,000 in the next 30 days! Join my free webinar to find out how."
Facebook doesn't like: Get rich quick and "make money" schemes, work-from-home opportunities, and big --or even small-- claims that might not be possible for everyone to achieve. Facebook addresses this under its Personal Attributes policy. its Multilevel Marketing policy, its Prohibited Financial Services policy and its Misleading or False Content Policy.
Remember: If a message sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Likewise, if it’s so specific that not everyone will achieve the outcome promised, that’s a problem, too.
The solution: Be very careful using any language around making money, work-from-home opportunities or readers quitting their jobs. That's an easy way to get your ads flagged or your account shut down. Instead, reframe true income opportunities or business trainings to focus on the benefits of what you’re offering.
So: “Make 6-figures and fire your employer with this groundbreaking opportunity” isn’t going to go over well. Instead: “Learn the 5 most important habits that every successful entrepreneur needs to master their first year in business (even if they’ve held previous leadership positions and have a strong business background)” not only sounds less scammy but will also very likely play nicely with the algorithm.
5. "&%#%^@%" (i.e., trying to add curse words to your ads)
Remember: Facebook is always protecting its family-friendly environment. The last thing the platform wants is parents scrolling through content, a child by their side, only to encounter a four-letter curse word on a sponsored post. Along those same lines, a particularly sexy image and overt language around intimacy are nonstarters, as well.
The solution: Keep your ads clean and child-friendly. And as often as we’ve seen people try to get around these rules, remember that Facebook can read between the lines of a bunch of “&%#%^@%#%$&” characters to figure out that you’re trying to swear. They know all the sneaky tricks, and that stuff gets shut down too.
A few more things to understand about Facebook ads
If we’ve learned anything by consulting with hundreds of small business owners on how to fix their ads, it’s that the five simple solutions described here will solve 99 percent of your problems with Facebook.
Just remember, Facebook not only audits your ads but also your landing page (and your URL for that matter, so your "getrichovernight.com" URL is not going to fly). You may need to do some clean-up work there as well if you’re promoting something a little more sensitive.
And if even after scrubbing your ads and web page of these forbidden phrases leaves you still scratching your head, wondering why your ads draw a "Not Approved" verdict, remember that you can always reach out to your assigned rep (if you have one -- most are randomly assigned and not all accounts get a rep).
Alternately, you can find an expert who'll dive in deep with you to figure out exactly which phrase or word is causing the headache. It’s usually something subtle, so don’t be discouraged if you’re unable to see it yourself.
Finally, never forget that Facebook is still an incredible lead-generation tool despite these recent changes. Getting the most out of Facebook just requires learning the rules of engagement and playing nice with the system. If you do that, you’ll be very happy with your results advertising on the platform.
Tara Zirker is an advertising expert who teaches business owners to rapidly scale through the power of Facebook ads. She is the founder of Successful Ads Club, a high-touch support platform where business owners receive step-by-step training to master their own lead generation. Her agency manages about $5 million per year in advertising budget.