Most content marketing advice applies to every business, regardless of what that business sells. Some works best with businesses selling industrial products, home services or another all-ages good. Many businesses, however, deal with age-restricted content. Alcohol, firearms, tobacco and adult products are all regulated around the world. Facebook requires that, if your page promotes a regulated good or service, it must restrict access. Such gated access brings up questions; can you promote a page with an age restriction?
Why Set Age Restrictions?
There are two primary reasons you may want to set an age restriction on your Facebook page.
- You need to.
- You want to.
You need to when your page promotes a regulated good or service, as mentioned above. This includes firearms, tobacco, adult products, pornography, strip clubs and the like. It also includes alcohol, with one caveat; there is a special alcohol restriction that is not based solely on age.
You may want to set an age restriction on a page that does not sell such goods or services, if you want to keep a mature atmosphere in your page. This might include when group discussion frequently turns to adult topics, or when you simply want to hide your page from the prying eyes of young people.
How to Set or Remove Age Restrictions
The default settings for a Facebook page are completely unrestricted. To comply with Facebook terms of service, you may need to set specific restrictions. The possible restrictions you can set are:
- All Ages
In the United States, you primarily will use the 18+, 21+ and alcohol-related restrictions. Other restrictions may apply to other countries, so research the laws and regulations of substances and services in the areas you’re advertising. The last thing you need is to have your page shut down due to non-compliance.
The actual process for setting a restriction is simple; as the admin of a page, visit that page’s edit menu and click “edit settings.” This is also where you will find other privacy settings and restrictions you can set. This includes country restrictions, which can be particularly important for alcohol-related pages.
One thing to note is that, if your page has previously been open and an age restriction is set, all comments posted by a user below the minimum age threshold will be removed. Those posts are gone forever, and will not be restored if you remove the restriction in the future.
Promoting an Age-Restricted Page
The basic question, can you promote an age-restricted page, has a simple answer. Yes, you can. In the past, Facebook had strict rules regulating age-restricted content promotions, particularly regarding alcohol and tobacco products. The caveat is that your age-restricted page will be more difficult to promote.
One reason it will be harder to promote your page is that Google and other search engines will not index the page. Your page will require a logged-in Facebook ID to be viewed, which means third party sites such as Google don’t have access. Similarly, users that browse while logged out won’t find your page.
Naturally, you also have to deal with the complex legal restrictions on advertising your content throughout the world. If you only advertise locally, this is less of an issue, because you are likely familiar with local laws and regulations. If you are trying to promote a global brand, however, you will need to be familiar with some of the more restrictive locations and taboos to avoid. Setting the alcohol-related restriction is beneficial for any page promoting alcohol, particularly because it includes the varied rules of different countries automatically. For example, users in Sweden must be over 25 to view alcohol-related content, and there is no other way to set a 25+ age restriction. Your only other option would be restrict the country entirely, which you may not want to do.
Facebook lifted many of their restrictions regarding app-based promotions for regulated content as well. The current regulations can be found in the Facebook guidelines document, located here: https://www.facebook.com/page_guidelines.php#promotionsguidelines
For the most part, Facebook tries to make its guidelines equivalent with local laws.
Tips for Promotion
There are still a number of ways you can promote a Facebook page with restricted content.
- Interact with holidays and events. Your users are likely celebrating using your products, so acknowledge that they are doing so and encourage them to share stories, tips or favorites of some kind. Remember; it’s all about engaging your users.
- Consider multiple pages to segment your audience. Global brands often create geo-targeted pages for individuals in a given country, for two reasons. First, it makes following local laws much easier. Second, it allows you to focus on local targeting, local events and local relevance. It’s no use posting about a local holiday in Singapore on a global page, for example, but it may be a very positive post on a Singapore-centric page.
- Always be aware of the social opinion of your brand and your products. Try not to promote a product that is undergoing heavy social controversy that may negatively affect your page. Likewise, when users are focused on socially responsible use of regulated products, encourage them by sharing positive content about such regulations. Of course, you should keep such posts in line with your company’s stance on those issues.
- Promote outside Facebook. Your Facebook page will have a hard time appearing in Google search results, but that’s not true of other indexable pages. Your website, blog, Twitter and other media channels all work to funnel traffic to your Facebook page. The Facebook page itself may not rank, but the pages that point to it certainly can.
- Don’t be afraid to host contests, giveaways, promotions and other such events on your page. Many of the previous Facebook restrictions on such contests have been lifted over the years. Contests are an effective means of bringing in new users and encouraging engagement, regardless of the products or services you sell.
Make no mistake; promoting an age-restricted page will be tougher than promoting an all-ages page. That said, you do have one luxury; your fans are likely to be more dedicated than the average Facebook user is to their fan pages. Your users need to be invested in your brand to bypass the restrictions and follow your page; that foundation of engagement can lead to great conversion rates.