Facebook is a great marketing tool for many businesses, but it falls flat for certain categories. When Facebook decides your business is against their policies, it becomes an uphill battle. That’s if you can even gain traction at all.
There are two reasons for this. One of them is systemic; Facebook doesn’t like to promote or even really host content it considers against their terms of service. The other reason is social. People may like adult activities – hookups, dating sites, porn, adult toys, fetish sites, drugs, etc – but Facebook is a family site. At this point, most people have their parents, their children, their grandparents, cousins; all the rest, liked as friends on Facebook.
Would you want to broadcast your fetishes to your parents? Would you want your children knowing about your drug use? It’s the same reason adult products are shipped in nondescript brown boxes and billed from innocuous business names. The pressure of public shame is too much, so people don’t tend to like those sorts of adult pages on Facebook anywhere near as easily as they do on, say, Twitter, which is much more lenient.
Now, I’m not one to shy away from criticizing Facebook and their policies. On the other hand, I’m also not about to advocate that Facebook allow pornography on a site that allows 13 year olds to register. There are plenty of adult-oriented social networks and such out there, you don’t really need to use Facebook to get your jollies.
That said, I can definitely see the appeal of using Facebook as a marketer, even when what you’re marketing is on the adult end of the spectrum. With careful targeting, you can reach people who are both interested in your offers and likely to follow up on that interest.
Bear in mind that, as an adult promoter, you have to stick to various local laws. You don’t just have to abide by Facebook policies. You can’t hide your purpose and hope Facebook doesn’t catch on; you can catch hell if someone decides to take legal action against you. We’re talking worse consequences than just having your page shut down, here.
The advice I’m going to give applies to any restricted content on Facebook, though I’m targeting it largely at adult content. Drug-related content, both legal and controlled, as well as firearms, fireworks in some areas, and a handful of other types of content all qualify. Heck, many of these techniques work for non-restricted pages as well; they’re just more important for restricted pages because you don’t have the option of running ads.
Rule #1: Don’t Use Explicit Imagery
Go ahead and take a second to check out Playboy on Facebook. I’ll wait, but not too long.
Got it? Good. Did you notice anything interesting? Let’s start at the top. Their cover photo is completely tame. Their profile picture is no more risqué than any female celebrity or model; heck, I’ve seen models with less on. Their top posts aren’t even related to the adult nature of their magazine. Of course, Playboy might be a poor example; they just recently made headlines for announcing the removal of nude models from their print mag.
The point is, none of the pictures or articles on their page are anything that you might associate with the traditional notions of an adult magazine. Even though your page is restricted to 18+ viewers, you can’t act like you’re hidden behind a privacy screen. Your page is in the public eye, and you’re stuck complying with all of the filters that entails.
This holds true whether you’re a model promoting your photo sets, a casino promoting your games, or an affiliate promoting adult sites or products. I would wager that most of the people reading this are adult affiliates, so take this message to heart.
Run Facebook Ads
Now, just because you’re a type of page usually barred from running ads, doesn’t mean you’re actually barred. Have you tried, before? If not, you might not be on Facebook’s blacklist yet. If you have, you might still be able to run ads so long as you keep them tame. I’ve met a few marketers who run adult pages and thought they were blocked from the ads system entirely, when all Facebook actually did was block a certain ad.
I recommend trying to run ads if you can. Use a picture that is relevant to your product, which will usually be a happy woman in risqué clothing. Avoid anything too overly revealing, and avoid linking directly to an adult site. These are flags that Facebook uses to block ads. Instead, refine your innuendo skills. Likewise, filter your offer link or site link through a more benign page that acts as your landing page, or times a redirect to your actual offer. Obfuscate it from Facebook so at a quick glance they don’t find anything objectionable.
Remember that ads cannot promote anything illegal, and they cannot include anything sexual, violent, or confrontational. There are a lot of ad restrictions on top of that, but for the most part these are the important flags that might catch you.
Run ads that get people to like your page, and use organic posts to catch them with offers.
Even if you can’t use ads, don’t abandon Facebook entirely. You have targeting options for organic posts, but more importantly, you have a huge userbase you can take advantage of with interesting content.
Have you ever looked at the social media accounts for Pornhub? Their Twitter account is a little less safe for work than the Playboy Facebook account above, but it’s still not that bad. Twitter has much more lax guidelines on adult content than Facebook, but you can still learn something from Twitter.
The number one thing you should be taking away from their account is humor. Humor, personality, and interactivity are all important for an adult brand. For one thing, they have a designated brand rep, Aria, who attracts people by being a human rather than a brand. For another, they keep up on current trends – see their post about Chester Cheetah and the weird brand interactions that surrounded him recently.
They post and retweet humorous content of a risqué nature, but they rarely go full adult. You can do the same thing on Facebook, just stay away from the actually adult imagery. What you’re going to be doing, in large part, is attempting to attract viral attention. You want your posts to get shared widely around Facebook, which means your posts – and your feed – need to be relatively clean. Adult humor is good; adult content is bad.
So, what techniques do you have at your disposal?
If you can’t use ads, your next best option is to use groups. Facebook groups are largely unregulated, because they can be closed and hidden from most people. My recommendation is to locate groups that have something to do with your topic, that are active and share content, and that have a significant membership. That means no groups that have under 300 members, no groups that don’t post, and no groups that don’t cover your topic.
Group participation is a good thing; don’t just steal their content and post it organically. What you really need to do is get those group members on your side. The way you do that is with your charming, humorous, valuable posting. Work on your posting technique, folks; it’s what will carry you with organic Facebook marketing.
You’re going to be posting a lot if you want to run an adult page on Facebook. Other brands can get away with one post a day or less; they can run ads to supplement their content. You won’t have that option. You need to post constantly; several times a day organically and several more times per day in all the groups you’re in. You need to be active and keep yourself on the feeds if your followers.
Remember, you’re taking a scattershot approach to content marketing here. You can’t create one post and hope it takes off; you need to create 10 under the assumption that maybe 10% of your posts will take off. Volume is going to be your friend. Just don’t push it so much you earn a spammer label.
Okay, so don’t actually steal content to post. Just curate a lot of content.
Share posts made by the brands you advocate, share posts made by other affiliates like yourself, share posts you find funny; share a lot. Sharing viral content as soon as possible, before your followers have seen it in 100 other places, is the key to becoming one of those places people go to find their viral content.
Ideally, you can monitor places like Reddit and the front page of Imgur to find content before it really takes off, and be on the forefront of sharing that content.
One technique I see a lot of restricted content pages taking is the share-for-share technique. Essentially you’re just going to be making a deal with another adult page to share each other’s posts, on a one for one basis. Share a post they make and they’ll share one of yours. Make these deals with a bunch of different pages.
Just be aware that a lot of people running these pages tend to ignore their followers. This is really too bad for them, given how much engagement can do for them, but it’s better for you. You become one of the elite just by talking to the people who talk to you. It does mean, however, that when you approach sites for a share for share deal, most of them will ignore you.
You can buy followers, and you can buy engagement. There are two ways you can do this; thin, cheap, fake followers and more expensive real followers. Since you’re running an adult page, I recommend both. Fake followers aren’t going to help you directly, and normally I recommend avoiding them at all costs, but in this case the buffed number of followers will be useful to you. Buy real followers as much as you can afford, though; they’re the ones who will actually make use of your offers and make this whole thing worthwhile.
When buying followers, try to keep a reasonable growth curve in mind. Don’t try to go from 10 followers to 1,000 overnight; that’s a giant red flag for Facebook. Try to only buy a small number of followers at a time, or drip-feed a larger campaign.
Industry Topic Coverage
Adult industries have news stories just as much as other industries. The aforementioned Playboy non-nude shift is one such story, and you can cover such topics in detail.
Write blog posts about them, write news posts about them, share other posts about them. If you’re luck and/or insightful, maybe the brands involved will even give you a hand by sharing the post.
You can also do this by covering topics that a newcomer might be interested in as far as education is concerned. Some adult topics don’t have a lot, but others do, and by becoming an advocate or educator, you can gain a following just on the merits of education alone.
Interviews and Show Coverage
Every industry has shows and conventions, even adult industries. If you can figure out a way to attend, that’s a great way to provide unique information that people will want to see. This will be harder for some industries than others, though. Some of them, as a marketer with a site and a blog, you may be able to finagle a press badge. Others are simply closed to anyone that doesn’t have an industry reputation, and an affiliate marketer certainly does not have that. Just see what you can get a hold of and take any advantage you can get.
Video is growing constantly on Facebook, and it’s fairly hard for them to monitor every video to check for topics they don’t want to promote. With vine-length videos, you can do a lot of advertising. Remember to keep it safe for work, though innuendo and humor are both good. With some good videos, you can get that delicious viral traffic for yourself.
Adult pages are difficult to grow, but once you have one established, there’s not a lot that can stop you. The hardest part is the early few thousand followers. That’s when you’re most vulnerable to Facebook taking you down, and it’s when you’re going to find it hardest to grow. Once you get enough visitors, though, you can start to snowball.