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Thanks Facebook for my seriously awful week

I am having the worst week EVER. That might sound dramatic but bear with me and let me tell you all about how Facebook is causing me misery.

Three weeks ago I headed to the UK for a whirlwind trip to visit my ailing Grandmother. As any small business owner will know, going on holiday doesn’t mean you can just put in a leave request form and go on your merry way. There is no off button so if you go on holiday, your business comes with you and luckily, my business can go anywhere. Or so I thought.

About five days before the end of my trip, Facebook blocked access to my account. I had to verify who I was to regain access. And then it happened again. And again. Each time I verified who I was to prove that it was legitimately me using my account.

But then at the same time, Facebook disabled two of my clients’ advertising accounts due to ‘suspicious activity’. One of these accounts has been running for almost 4 years and is spending thousands every month. The other is a new client fast gaining traction. All adverts were immediately stopped. I contacted Facebook, explained that I was in the UK and I think this is why they suspected suspicious activity. I also provided a picture of my Driver’s Licence as ID and then I waited. And waited. And waited. I’d heard nothing and it was time to return home to New Zealand where I was confident that I would get the issue sorted. Finally, upon landing I found I had a response from Facebook:

Hi Claire,

Our records indicate that your payments account was disabled because it violates Facebook's terms of service. In the interest of protecting our users, we cannot confidently re-enable your payments account at this time.

Thanks for your understanding,

Sarah
Risk Support Specialist

WHAT!? Is that it? I furiously typed a reply. I explained that this was my livelihood, paying my mortgage depended on my business, if accounts were disabled like this with no clear explanation then my business would implode and I’d be left with nothing. I had to get those accounts re-enabled.

Again, I might sound dramatic but this is serious. I have a kid to support, this is my life.

Then I got really angry. How dare the vastness of faceless Facebook have such little respect for small business owners whose whole businesses rely on their platform? It’s utterly wrong. Also, I know exactly how I violated the Terms of Service – the region I was in didn’t match the region listed on the advertising accounts’ credit cards. That’s because I was in the UK for a measly two weeks visiting my unwell Grandmother. A cold fear also washed over me as I realised that if this happens every time I go away then I am basically trapped in New Zealand. One of the awesome things about my business should be how mobile it is and I feel like this has been taken away from me.

So I responded to Facebook and I explained yet again that I had been overseas and I also asked what I could do in future to inform Facebook that I was travelling and prevent this from happening again. Then I waited. And waited. Three days later I got a response. This time it was much more comprehensive but said that they were concerned about why the region I was in did not match the billing addresses on the credit cards. No response to my question of how to inform them of my whereabouts in the future.  So I replied and explained yet again the reason for the discrepancy. I also filled in the original form again for luck. And fired off a quick reminder that they were ruining my life.

Hi Claire,

Thanks for contacting Facebook. 

It looks like you've contacted us several times about the problem you're having. To make sure that we're able to help you out, please don't respond to this email. Instead, wait until you've received a response to the previous issue you've reported. When you receive this message, you can continue the conversation there. 

Thanks.

Screw you Facebook.

I also emailed my old Facebook account manager who was assigned to me for a three month period that ended about 2 weeks before this happened. 'My hands are tied' he said. 'We are not a support office.' 

I wish this story had a happy ending but so far, it doesn’t. 12 days later and I am still no closer to getting my accounts re-enabled and Facebook’s Terms of Service state that I cannot create another advertising account to replace the disabled one. At this point in time I seriously don’t want to mess with their Terms of Service. My client’s credit cards have been blacklisted anyway so I’m completely hamstrung. I’m losing sleep, letting my clients down and I cannot get real support for love nor money. I’ll admit that I’ve cried.

My only friend has been Google which has made it abundantly clear that I am not the only person to have gone through this hell. It’s cold comfort.

So now my entrepreneurial mind is whirring because Facebook, you can no longer be my long-term solution. I love what I do and I know Facebook ads like the back of my hand but right now I feel like this is not a platform I can rely on so completely for my earnings.

I'll update if and when I get any kind of solution. I'm tempted to say I'm not holding my breath, but I really am.

Have you had your advertising accounts disabled? Did you feel as completely shell shocked and exhausted by the process as I do?

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How businesses can use Pokémon Go to drive more sales

If you haven’t heard of Pokémon Go, I’d be a bit surprised. It’s the Augmented Reality app that’s currently taking the world by storm. It’s only been around for just over a week yet the app already has double the engagement of Snapchat and has outstripped Twitter in the percentage of users who are actively using it daily. In fact all the statistics are pretty astonishing. What I wouldn’t give to be a fly on the wall in the creators’ offices to hear how they are reacting to their game’s success.

 cnbc.com

cnbc.com

 

Pokémon Go is a game where users journey through the real world with app in hand searching for Pokémon to capture. Along the way they’ll come across Poke Stops where they can collect free goodies and discover gyms where they can engage their Pokémon in battle. People are seriously on the move in their quest for Pokémon domination and it’s a trend that businesses should be capitalising on. Hospitality venues are particularly well positioned to garner more business as a result of the craze.

But how?

The first thing you should be doing is downloading the app and checking out if your business is a location of a Poke Stop or gym. If so, this is great news as you don’t have to do much to attract the crowds – they will naturally come hunting. However, it helps if you let people know that you’ve got a Pokémon Go location on your doorstep. A mention in your email newsletter (feature it in the subject heading!) and a post on Facebook letting people know that you’ve got a Poke Stop or Gym onsite is enough to bring people flocking. Post a screenshot of the Poke Stop or Gym to prove its legitimacy. Mention it on a sandwich board outside your business and you could even get creative by offering a deal specifically for people who are Pokémon hunting in the area. Use Facebook ad targeting to reach a very local audience with your Facebook posts.

 itbinsider.com

itbinsider.com

To see if you’ve got a Poke Stop or Gym near you, log into the app and go for a quick walk around your venue. A Poke Stop will appear as a 3D square floating above a platform while a gym is a much bigger structure with a large Pokémon floating above. You can’t miss it.

The next thing to do is explore inside and outside your venue for Pokémon. Make a note of where they are and you particularly want to look out for rare Pokémon as these will be most appealing to Pokémon hunters. Once you’ve tracked them down, let people know how many Pokémon you’ve come across at your venue. Don’t give too much away as Pokémon locations change all the time and you you don’t want to spoil the fun but look at creating special offers and incentives for people who can ‘catch them all’. 

If you want to get serious about attracting some significant foot traffic and your business is close to a Poke Stop then take advantage of the in-app purchases and throw down a Lure. Lures attract Pokémon to areas around Poke Stops for a time period of half an hour and they’re guaranteed to draw in people who are looking to increase their stash of Pokémon. Yes, it means parting with some dollars but it doesn’t take much investment to test it out. A lure costs 100 Pokecoins, the equivalent of $1.49 or buy Pokecoins in bulk to make them more affordable. $150 will get you 14,500 Pokecoins. That could keep you going with lures for 84 hours which is about $1.78 an hour. Not a big hourly investment to increase the number of customers flocking to your door. Just head to the ‘Shop’ section of your app to purchase.

If there’s a Gym near your venue then you’re really in luck as people congregate around Gyms to battle other teams and take control of the gym. Gyms give you even greater opportunity to use Pokémon Go in real life marketing. You could mention on your sandwich board which team (Mystic, Valor or Instinct) currently controls the gym to encourage competition.  Why not offer a discount to anyone who manages to take over the Gym? They’ll let you know so you don’t need to be checking for yourself and what a great way of encouraging Pokémon Go players to come into your venue while they’re playing.

Of course Pokemon Go isn’t for everyone and it’s important not to go overboard and alienate your customers who aren’t playing. Feeling left out is a sure fire way to put anyone off a business. So don’t use all these techniques at once, try them out and see what works for your business. Happy hunting!

 cnbc.com

cnbc.com

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