By Molly Pittman | May 13, 2020
The other day we woke up to this message in our Facebook ad account for Smart Marketer:
Ad account disabled for policy violation.
Having your account shut down sucks. It often comes as a complete surprise, causing panic and anxiety. And even if you haven’t done anything wrong, it can still be a hassle to get your ads up and running again.
So let me start by reassuring you:
Having your ad account disabled is NOT the end of the world.
In fact, most seasoned media buyers have experienced a Facebook ad account shutdown at one point or another. I know because it’s happened to me at least a dozen times.
But here’s the good news:
You can get over it.
I would estimate that about 70% of the time, you can get your ad account back after it’s been disabled.
And even if you can’t get it back, you can always start a new account. It might take some extra time and work, but I promise, you WILL be able to continue running Facebook ads to grow your business.
A lot of people have been getting shut down lately (including us, obviously), so I wanted to write a post to show you exactly what I do to get my accounts reinstated as quickly as possible.
But first, I want to quickly explain why this happens in the first place.
Why Do Ad Accounts Get Disabled?
In our case, here’s what happened:
Ezra published a new ad promoting content about different ways to manage your money.
Just to be clear: there was nothing spammy or scammy about this offer whatsoever. It was great content on an important topic.
But money is a gray area for Facebook. (Along with other topics like health and weight loss.) So it wasn’t all that surprising that they had a problem with the ad.
But for some reason, instead of simply disapproving that one ad, Facebook went straight to shutting down our entire account.
It’s not the normal reaction, which makes me think this was probably a mistake.
And that does happen, guys. Facebook DOES make mistakes with ad account shutdowns.
Most of Facebook’s policy enforcement is automated. If you get a bunch of negative feedback on an ad, for example, then Facebook will automatically scan your ad and landing page for trigger words. If they find specific language indicating that you might be breaking their terms of service, they might automatically shut down your account—without any manual review by a human.
This automation is actually a GOOD thing in most cases. For example, the approval process for new ads is also automated, which means new ads get approved much faster. (Often within hours or even minutes of being submitted, instead of having to wait days or even weeks for a human review.)
But of course the downside is that algorithms can make mistakes. And as I’ll explain next, those mistakes are more likely to happen right now given everything that’s going on in the world.
How COVID-19 Is Affecting Ad Shutdowns
Right now I’m hearing from a lot of people who have had their account shut down: us…Russ Henneberry…even Tier 11 had seven different client accounts disabled over one weekend.
I believe COVID-19 is affecting this in 3 main ways:
1) Facebook has seen a surge of activity.
People are spending a lot more time online right now, which means Facebook is getting slammed. They’ve reported up to a 70% increase in the time spent on their platforms, which has also attracted new advertisers.
2) Facebook’s workflow is disrupted.
Facebook also has to deal with COVID-19, just like everyone else in the world. They’re having to figure out how to manage a huge worldwide platform while working remotely, which is undoubtedly causing some hiccups.
3) Facebook is adding new terms of service.
Lastly, Facebook is adding new parameters to their terms of service when it comes to COVID, in order to make sure people aren’t trying to take advantage of the situation by running spammy ads or giving a poor user experience.
And I think this recent increase of account shut-downs is, at least in part, a reaction to that.
I hope that gives you a little context into what’s going on right now and why. Next let’s go through the process I recommend to get your account reinstated.
How to Maximize Your Chances of Getting Your Facebook Ad Account Reinstated
When your account gets shut down, there’s no way to guarantee that you’ll get it back. But this is the process I follow, and I believe if you follow this process you’ll maximize the chances of getting your ad account back too.
Step 1 is to appeal the suspension inside Ads Manager.
At this point, you don’t know exactly why your account was disabled. Maybe you messed up and violated the terms of service. Maybe it was a mistake.
Either way, don’t waste too much energy trying to figure it out.
Instead, just appeal the decision and see what happens. In my experience, there’s a good chance Facebook will tell you it was a mistake, and turn your account back on.
To appeal the suspension, start by clicking the link to request a review of your ad account:
Next you’ll just need to verify that it’s your account:
Finally, choose a reason why you’re requesting a review. I always choose “Another reason” so I can write my own explanation:
So far, so good? Now it’s time to explain why your account should not have been shut down.
Here’s what NOT to do:
• DON’T get angry.
• DON’T be passive-aggressive.
• DON’T write a rambling, novel-length dissertation.
Remember that a human being is going to be reading this. They’re busy. They’ve got a lot on their plate. And no matter what the situation is with your account, they personally had nothing to do with it.
So be brief, be clear, and be nice. That will help make them more receptive to your cause.
Here’s the sort of message I usually write:
“I hope you’re having a great day :). We are a reputable digital marketing education company (we actually have partnered with you guys on some educational trainings for business owners)! I believe this was deactivated by mistake. If not, please let us know how we violated the rules and we will be more than happy to change. We rely on this account to grow our business, especially during these times. I appreciate anything you can do to help. Thank you!”
Notice that in this message, I…
• Keep it fairly short and easy to understand.
• Open in a friendly manner and keep it friendly all the way through.
• Build credibility.*
• Mention this might be a mistake (which does happen a lot).
• Tell them we will be happy to make any changes needed.
• Build a little empathy by mentioning that we rely on this account.
• Thank them.
* A note on credibility. Obviously not everyone can claim to be a digital marketing education company that has partnered with Facebook in the past. So just say SOMETHING here that quickly explains that you’re a real, reputable company and that you’re not doing anything shady.
For example, my keto client gets shut down all the time (which is par for the course in the health/weight loss space). So in their case, to build credibility I talk about how we’re giving away a free documentary series to help people.
OK, now that you’ve submitted your appeal, keep an eye on your Facebook support inbox. This is where you’ll see their reply: https://facebook.com/support
Step 2 is to continue appealing if you don’t hear back.
It can take a little while for Facebook to respond to your appeal. So if you don’t hear back after a week or so, it’s OK to re-submit that appeal.
Step 3 is to escalate the appeal if you have a direct line of communication within Facebook.
If you know someone at Facebook—such as having an account manager or a partner manager—definitely reach out to them. If nothing else, they can probably help get your issue sorted more quickly.
Those 3 steps are usually enough to get your account up and running again.
If they work and your account gets reinstated—yay!
If not—read on.
What To Do If Your Appeal Gets Denied
This is the worst possible scenario. It means Facebook won’t restore your account, and you’ll have to start a new one.
I know the thought of losing all your data sucks…but in the grand scheme of things, this really isn’t that bad.
For starters, if you can share the pixel from your old account, you’ll be able to use some of that data—such as retargeting site visitors. You can also re-upload other audiences like your customer email lists.
In other ways, you’ll have to start over. You’ll have to create new ads, for instance, and you’ll have to build up new social proof on those ads.
You’ll also have to give Facebook the time & data it needs to relearn what type of people are most likely to convert on your ads.
So with that in mind, here’s a piece of advice. You don’t have to do this, but I think it’s a smart idea:
While you’re waiting for your account to be (hopefully) reinstated, start a new account and run an engagement campaign to some content.
You don’t have to spend a lot of money—just a little traffic is fine. We’ve spent less than $100 on this in our new account:
The goal here is not to generate sales. It’s just to start gathering some audience data in a new account. So if Facebook ends up denying your appeal, you’ve already got a new account up and running.
Hopefully you won’t need it, and you can pause the new account in a few days after you get reinstated.
But either way, it pays to be prepared and to have the mindset that you’re going to succeed and grow no matter what.
Because that’s the truth!
As long as you’re determined, and approach the situation from a place of positivity, a simple ad account shutdown is nothing more than a speedbump. You CAN recover from it. You WILL recover from it. And I’m always here to help. 🙂