How I responded to an angry group member about my “no self-recommendation” rule
I run a local community Facebook group and as you can imagine, members frequently post requests for help with all sorts of things – home repairs, cleaning services, etc.
I don’t allow people to recommend their own businesses in my group when people request them…
I used to… but then a local plumber alerted me to people who were in my group solely to promote their business on these types of requests. These people would enter my group, search on their given business, and comment on every single post that they might get business from.
So, I added a new rule. It goes something like this:
If somebody asks for a recommendation, and your business applies, only previous customers may respond to the inquiry, within the appropriate thread.
Businesses, their staff, and family/friends are not permitted to self-recommend. If you are tagged by a customer as a recommendation, you may reply as a sub-thread to the recommendation comment with your business or contact info.
The only thing is, it is super hard to control and keep up with because the responses are comments, not new posts. I have a mod who helps me remove these, and there are consequences (muting and if it happens too much, removal from the group).
I got this as a submitted post the other day and the “explain please” really infuriated me – because – dude, you’re in my private living room (this is how I think of my group) – I don’t have to explain anything to you!
Question for the admins. So in response to a request for tax help, I post that my wife is a local cpa that works from home (not a “business”). Have done this many times before without issue. This time the comment gets deleted. But I see tons of posts a year that say, “my husband does shoveling” or “cuts grass” and those are permitted. Explain please.
But I could also see his perspective, because frankly, we don’t catch everything.
So, I allowed the post in the group and responded publicly (as the connected Facebook page, not as myself, to remove the personal aspect a bit.)
I then closed comments, not because I am a censoring dictator (people’s favorite admin insult) but because I am not going to get into a discussion about the reasons I run my group or my business.
Let me repeat that for you admins who need to hear it again, because I know this can be tempting – but trust me, it does not lead to anything good: I am not going to get into a discussion about the reasons I run my group or my business.
Here is how I responded:
I want to share this with you because it might come in handy if you have a similar rule – feel free to borrow my language.
Hi [Bob]* – please see the rules for this group, which everybody has to check a box to agree to in order to be approved for membership (you must have agreed to them since you are in the group). You can find them here: [link]
The rule that you are referring to is this one: “If somebody asks for a recommendation, and your business applies, only previous customers may respond to the inquiry, within the appropriate thread. Businesses, their staff, and family/friends are not permitted to self-recommend. If you are tagged by a customer as a recommendation, you may reply as a sub-thread to the recommendation comment with your business or contact info.”
In your wife’s case, unless she is doing the work for free, promotion for her paid work is not permitted.
EVERYBODY should be observing this rule. However, because the group gets around 8,000 comments per month, we don’t catch every single one. We make exceptions for shoveling during snowstorms.
This group is part of a for-profit business. We make a living with advertising. If we provide free advertising, we don’t make a living.
Also, if you would like to connect with an admin or if you would like to find the rules at any time, there is a pinned post in the announcements with an email address as well as a link to the rules. The rules are also in the info about the group.
We hope you are enjoying this group.
What do you do as an admin in these situations…?
Share your thoughts in the comments!
*real name not Bob!
This is a great question. I get this all the time. Really angry people who I have worked side by side at trade shows. We all had our own booth at a trade show but we were very friendly with each other…for 30 years…30 years! And now, they have no problem with reaching out via PM and reading me the riot act. Thank you for posting and sharing the response above. We allow self promotion underneath a post if it is directly related to your business. (We service retail stores and allow manufacturers and sales reps in the group.) So if a retailer requests info on treats, only those manufacturers who offer treats can respond. Can’t respond with gloves or whatever. They will also use any sneaky way to get their logos, advertisements, etc. in front of our members even though that is not allowed. We have a separate group for paid advertising.
It will never cease to boggle my mind the way people will treat/talk to one another on Facebook *particularly* when they know one another in real life.
Your rule sounds perfectly reasonable. And it should be something that once somebody learns it ONCE they *should* also know how it works going forward. And I share your frustration at people who think they’re cleverly sneaking by your rules…
Thank you for commenting, because it might help someone else out as well.