The new Facebook rule on branded content that’s freaking everyone out

Facebook revised it’s rules on branded content on 26 April (link to the policy here, link to the announcement here, how to get access to the Branded Content tool here). It’s part of a move to ensure that Pages disclose the commercial nature of content that they post.
A few blogs, and in particular one from Comoblog (I’m not going to link to it here because the article is arguably misleading and misinformed), have been stirring up concern and confusion amongst marketers.
We wanted to put the record straight.

According to Facebook what is branded content?

Facebook has clamped down on promotional content in recent years with a big algorithm tweak that throttled reach of content it considers to be promotional. This is a further update that relates to content that a publisher is paid to create.
According to Facebook, branded content is content that you as a Page/Person have been paid to promote in advance as part of a sponsorship or similar arrangement. An example would be the Vlogger Zoella who is paid by Asda (UK grocery store owned by Wal-mart) for product placement and other activities.

Zoella Blue Badge Verified

Here’s how Facebook defines it:

“Branded content is a growing and evolving part of the media landscape. On Facebook, we define this as content that features a third party product, brand, or sponsor (“marketer”). It is typically posted by media companies, celebrities, or other influencers. Verified Pages (with the blue checkmark) can share branded content on Facebook as long as they follow our updated branded content policy and ads policy and use the branded content tool to tag marketers in their posts.”

We feel that despite the clarification in some areas that this only applies to Blue Checkmark verified Pages, the wording in many areas is ambiguous and could easily be applied to ordinarily verified Pages too hence why so many marketers are confused. It’s likely that further clarification will emerge as Facebook is inundated with questions (and they start to remove non-compliant content as indicated here):

“Just like all content on Facebook, branded content will go through a review process. We will be enforcing the usage of the tagging functionality, along with compliance with updated Pages terms and ads policy, for all branded content posts on all verified Pages (with the blue checkmark).

We will begin ramping up enforcement over the next few weeks to remove non-compliant branded content or disapprove ads for lack of compliance.”

Who does the new Facebook branded content change apply to?

This rule only applies if you have a Verified Page with the BLUE tick badge. In fact this is a relaxing of previous rules which banned verified Pages from containing branded content.
And it only applies if, as a blue tick verified Page, you have a sponsorship agreement with another brand whereby you are paid to promote their stuff (i.e. their branded content on your Page). Plenty of personalities and brands get paid to promote products and this move simply makes the commercial arrangement clearer and also provides more transparency for the brand being sponsored.
Ex-racing driver and now Channel 4 F1 presenter, Susie Wolff has a number of commercial sponsors. These include Mercedes-Benz and Sure.  See some of Susie’s recent posts below which are clearly commercially driven and tag the sponsor. However, Susie at the moment (and to be fair, these posts were only put up a few days after the announcement) is not using it correctly.
New Facebook branded content rules
Whilst Susie has tagged the Page, official branded content posts will appear in the news feed with the “with” tag as per this Facebook example:
Branded content example
One of the advantages of this new branded content policy is that the verified Page can now tag the sponsor in the posts directly. The sponsor gets notified and benefits from increased page growth. Sometimes the person/brand being sponsored is paid to create ads about the product. As you can see from the screen grab below, when the ad is created in Power Editor, it is made clear that Pages tagged in the ad are notified and will be able to view the ad’s metrics including ad spend and CPM. They are also able to create an ad themselves using the post.
Sponsored content in Power Editor
The sponsor will be able to see the high level post metrics for reach and engagement of branded content posts they are tagged in. They can also use the “Share & Boost” button (see below) to share the post to their Page and boost it to a chosen audience. The publisher will get notified if their post is shared and boosted. The marketer does not have access to content management permissions for the publisher’s post and cannot take actions like deleting and editing – these are reserved for the content publisher.
Branded Facebook content share and boost

What content does this apply to?

Facebook says:

“On Facebook, we define branded content as any post — including text, photos, videos, Instant Articles, links, 360 videos, and Live videos — that features a third party product, brand, or sponsor. It is typically posted by media companies, celebrities, or other influencers.”

What you should do if you are a blue tick verified Page

You need to use the Branded Content tool (which is available through the Page composer on pretty much every device and platform except, for now, Android). You will see the “handshake” icon in Page composer to add the branded content tag. In Ads Manager and Power Editor you will see a “Sponsor” field. You need to type in the name of the third party product, brand, or sponsor featured in the post.

Facebook branded content icon


Who does Facebook branded content change NOT apply to?

  • It DOES NOT apply to you if you are a private individual sharing links and content from other websites or Facebook Pages.
  • It (at least currently) DOES NOT apply to you if you are a grey tick verified Page sharing links and content from other websites or Facebook Pages.
  • It DOES NOT apply to you if you have a blue badge verified Page and DO NOT get paid (the word paid is the important one) by a third party brand for posting photos, links, videos and so on promoting their product on your Page.
  • It DOES NOT affect affiliate marketers that gain income from links and purchases AFTER someone clicks through.
So for 99.9%+ Page owners (our best guesstimate given there are over 50M Facebook Pages worldwide) just forget this whole debacle and carry on with business as normal. Remember of course that if you are promoting something as an affiliate you should disclose that relationship. And Pages should always credit the original source when sharing anything that isn’t theirs.

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Marie & Carlton

About Marie & Carlton

Marie and Carlton are Directors of The Digiterati. They frequently co-write articles for our blog and others, including Smart Insights. They enjoy receiving comments from readers so be sure to have your say!