I get a panicked email or phone call every other week. It always goes something like this:
“I’ve been locked out of my school Facebook Page. It is asking me to verify my account and I go through the steps, but nothing happens. I can’t post any updates or photos on the Page. What can I do?”
My response comes in the form of a question: “Do you have access to the Page through your personal, active Facebook account?”
And guess what… 100% of the time, the answer is no. The individual either: 1) Uses a shared Facebook profile that others also log into, or 2) They have a separate Facebook profile that has no friends and no posts, and they only use it to access the school page.
To help solve this common problem, I’m going to break down how Facebook works, what you can do today to protect your school Facebook page, and some strategies to try if you’ve been locked out.
Part 1: Facebook Page Basics
When you set up a Facebook Page for your school, it is a “business” Page. However, the only way to set-up a Page is through a personal Facebook account.
Once the Page is set-up, you will assign individual people (active Facebook profiles connected to real people) to be administrators on the page. You need to assign at least two people to be admins on a Facebook Page. This isn’t a requirement from Facebook, but rather a precautionary step that will minimize the chance that you will get locked out of your page!
This is different from Twitter, where there is one log-in and password that you can share among multiple people. On Facebook, every person who is an admin for your school Page needs to have their own log-in – and that log-in is their own, personal Facebook profile.
There are two ways to assign admins to your Page:
- You can go into “Settings” on your Page and click “Page Roles.” Type the name of the person, pick the level of access they need, and click “Add.” That individual then has to “accept” the invitation in order to be added to the page. They will get a notification the next time they log into Facebook.
- You can also assign page roles under Business Manager on Facebook. The advantage to using Business Manager is that you can invite people just by using their email address. Type in “business.facebook.com” and then go to “Business Settings.” Under “Users” you can invite people by their email address. It can be any email address for that person; it doesn’t have to be the email they use for Facebook. You’ll be able to click the level of access they need. The person will receive an email and take action from there.
Part 2: How to Keep Your Facebook Page Protected
You absolutely need to have at least two people assigned as full administrators on your school Facebook page. Both of these people need to have their own, personal Facebook accounts that they are actively using. “Active” usage is defined as having a real profile picture of a person, weekly posts, and a friends list of 20+ real people.
Why? Well, what happens if one person leaves the school suddenly? Or their Facebook profile gets hacked? You will lose complete access to your school Page if you do not have a back-up administrator role assigned.
I’ll sometimes hear one of these objections:
“People can see that I’m an admin on the Page! What about my privacy?”
My answer: People cannot see that you’re an admin of a page. I am personally an admin of over 130 Facebook pages and only other page admins know. Now, if you manage a Page, you’ll notice that you can see which Page admin posted which post. But ONLY people who manage the page can see this information! Rest assured that the general public, when visiting your page, cannot see the name of the person who posted on behalf of the school.
Further, the other people who manage the Page cannot access your personal profile. All they can see is your name and profile photo, just like any other person on Facebook who is not on your friends list.
“What about Open Records Requests? Couldn’t my personal information be requested?”
My answer: I have never seen this happen. I’m not saying it could never happen – but if you’re doing illegal things with your personal Facebook account, then you have bigger issues to worry about!
“I just don’t feel comfortable having my personal account connected to the school Page!”
My answer: If someone refuses to connect their personal profile to the school Facebook Page, then they are not the right person to manage social media for your school. Find someone else.
Part 3: This is the Worst Case Scenario
Never, EVER have a “shared log-in” for your school Facebook page. In other words, do not set-up a dummy Facebook profile like “Card Cardinal,” make it an administrator on the school Facebook Page, and have multiple staff members log into “Card Cardinal” in order to create posts on the school Page.
In theory, this sounds like the perfect workaround! But Facebook knows this is a dummy profile. That dummy profile doesn’t have a real friends list or make personal posts.
Even worse, Facebook knows that people in different locations and different IP addresses are logging in and out of “Card Cardinal.” That looks incredibly suspicious to Facebook.
Before long – and it might take years, although Facebook has been cracking down in 2020 – “Card Cardinal” will be shut down by Facebook and/or Facebook will kick “Card Cardinal” off the school Page for unusual activity.
And there goes your access to your school Page…
Part 4: What to Do if You Get Locked Out of Your Facebook Page
Maybe you’re reading this blog because the “worst-case scenario” has already happened to you. The bad news is that your next steps are not going to be easy. But the good news is that there ARE some next steps!
Try this first: If you can still get into the dummy Facebook profile account, make it more legitimate. Add a profile photo, change the name to your real name, build up a friends list, and start creating personal posts. Make sure you’re the only one logging into the account. This has worked for some people, but it might take weeks or months to get Page access back.
Try this second: If the dummy account has been disabled, you will need to provide information to Facebook in order to verify your identity. Facebook has a number of steps that it might ask, such as providing a photo of a government-issued ID, identifying people on the account’s friends list, or verifying your phone number.
Try this third: Submit a Help request to Facebook, using one of these forms. Explain your situation and respond to any questions Facebook asks you. Please note that Facebook Support is not always the most responsive, according to people who have tried this route.
Try this fourth: If you’ve tried all these methods and you still cannot access the Page, you might need to start over and create a brand-new school Facebook Page. The old Page will still exist, causing confusion for your community. You will also need to build-up your fans list from scratch.
Don’t risk being locked out of your school Facebook Page by making one of the mistakes described above. Always assign at least two people to have full administrative access to the page. These people need to have active personal Facebook profiles. Rest assured that your personal information is not displayed on the school page when you have your profile assigned as an admin.
If you’re thinking – “This won’t happen to me. We’ve been doing it this way for years!” – remember, I receive at least one call or email every other week with this issue, from smart people just like you who thought it could never happen to them. Take action NOW to ensure your Page is set-up correctly, so you can continue to celebrate your incredible school!
Further reading on this topic: https://www.cincsocial.com.au/cincblog/how-to-recover-your-business-facebook-page.