Facebook Frustrations: “Like” It Or Leave It

By Taylor Smithfield

Let’s face it. Facebook is practically synonymous with the term “social networking.” With 1.1 billion unique monthly visitors (three-and-a-half times more than Twitter gets) the site should be an integral part of your marketing strategy. However, with Facebook’s increased efforts to censor certain content, your gun shop’s page may be more strictly scrutinized.

Facebook already prohibits paid advertising of firearms, but many dealers are discovering they also can’t post links on their Facebook to their e-commerce shops, even if the operation is legal. You may have encountered this policy in action already. If you post a link to an online store where firearms are sold, or if you link to a site that links to an online store where firearms are sold, it violates Facebook’s policies.

Hyatt Gun Shop (Charlotte, N.C.) discovered this when Facebook removed, much to their surprise, a post about an online sale on gun vaults and safes. They assumed the advertisement would be kosher since it was promoting gun safety. However, it linked to their e-commerce store. Likewise, Facebook shut down Pittsburgh Tactical Firearms’ (McKeesport, Pa.) entire Facebook page because they simply announced an AR-15 raffle. Facebook classified the post as an advertisement to “sell” weapons. The store claims to have lost 40 percent of their business at the time their page was removed.

If you ask Facebook’s team about posting content to link to your online gun store, their reply will be: “Ads may not promote firearms, ammunition, paintball guns, BB guns, fireworks, explosives, pepper spray, knives, Tasers or weapons of any kind, including those used for self-defense. Ads may not directly or indirectly link to landing pages where people can purchase any of these products.” They seem to use the term “ad” loosely to include advertising within “posts” to your Facebook page as well as actual paid advertisements. It’s easy to see how you might accidentally violate their terms of use without even realizing it.

These are unfortunate obstacles dealers don’t “sign up for” when they sign up for Facebook. Especially since the networking site isn’t restricting other segments of legitimate commerce the way they are the firearms industry. Depending on how Facebook interprets your content (and how thorough their vetting process) it may be very difficult to advertise your store. Even though their logo is giving a “thumbs up,” approval is not exactly the message they’re sending to gun dealers. So, what’s the best way to tackle threats to your social presence?

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Stay In The Game

If you want to up your chances of staying in the game, there are a few approaches you can take. You could turn your page into a general discussion about guns or customer service-related topics. Using your page for product reviews is also an option (you can post photos of guns, but they can’t point at the viewer). Or perhaps you could post in-store gun sales or promotions without linking to an online store to purchase them. You’d at least have a solid reach in your local community this way. You can approach the policy regarding inadvertent linking to your online store by typing the following in your Facebook description: “Find us on Google: Jim’s Gun Shop in Tallahassee.”

However, if you find Facebook is too restrictive for you (or if you’ve been kicked off) you may be in luck. An emerging social networking site geared toward gun enthusiasts is offering an alternative to Facebook. Gun District currently has over 8,000 members, and this number is steadily growing by 15 percent every month, says Laura Evans, Gun District’s director of marketing. Free to sign-up and sponsored by Legally Armed America, the site provides several Facebook-esque features like profiles, groups, pages and advertisements.

“Gun District is a place where you can speak freely about your interests without being bullied,” Evans explains. Unlike Facebook, it’s “an unrestricted, uninhibited and unapologetic exchange of information and opinions regarding guns, the Second Amendment and the shooting sports lifestyle.”
Gun dealers can advertise on the social networking site as well. Yes, you can even link to your online store — using social networking as it’s intended! Plus, you won’t have to wonder if or when you’ll be blocked. Your audience is also guaranteed to appreciate your content.

“We’ve seen an uptick in the number of retailers who have joined Gun District and encourage them to continue to post their content regularly,” Evans says. “Additional opportunities for advertising will become available via weekly e-blasts and app sponsorships, and we’re constantly looking for new ways to help promote the shooting sports industry.”

The project is still in its infancy, but it may be an ideal time to establish your store’s presence on the pro-gun site because Facebook will most likely tighten its policies in the future. So whether you’ve learned to work around the obstacles Facebook presents or you’ve been blocked already, it’s beneficial to find other ways to do business and build your fan base. Gun District has the potential to become a thriving social network and an avenue for you to conduct business.

Please share your own experiences with Facebook (and social networking in general) as a gun enthusiast or dealer and how you’ve successfully complied with policies while still promoting your brand. Think about joining a site like Gun District (www.gundistrict.com) and check out some other social networking sites like www.gunsocialnetwork.com and www.libertyheads.com.

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Fast And Accurate Dispositions With Gun StoreMaster

Blue Book has added a new feature called “fast4473” to their Gun StoreMaster software in order to speed up the disposition process. The update makes it easier to complete ATF form 4473 on desktop and mobile devices and “greatly increases accuracy, reduces errors, and further ensures compliance with ATF mandates by double-checking entries and processes,” according to a Blue Book rep.

Compliant with ATF Rule 2008-3, retailers using fast4473 can still print the form for signing and filing; fast4473 is available now for dealers.
Visit www.gunstoremaster.com

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Goat Tuff Gives Preference To Dealers With Equalizer

Good news for dealers: Goat Tuff Products has decided to make the Equalizer Archery Release Aid available through its website and authorized dealers only.

“This year we felt the optimal way to get our Equalizer into the hands of the archer/bowhunter was to go dealer only and offer each authorized dealer a shop model that could be used to show customers the advantages of the Equalizer,” says Jerry Smith, Goat Tuff president. For $100, you’ll receive a Pro Shop exhibit model for your store.

Your customers will appreciate the Equalizer because it increases bow performance by 10 to 15 fps for each inch of increase up to 3 inches without increasing draw weight.

“The Equalizer was designed for short draw archers or those that have had to shoot lower draw weights due to age or injury but has become a favorite with all archers looking to increased performance,” Smith says.

Visit www.goattuffproducts.com

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