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Facebook Updated Its Branded Content Policy. Here’s What It Means

It's been well over a year since Facebook loosened up its restrictions on which Pages can share branded content. In 2016, verified Pages of brands, influencers, and publishers were able to enter into partnerships on sponsored and unsponsored posts you've seen pop up in the News Feed:


An example of what a boosted branded content post looks like, from Facebook.

Branded content has become popular among publishers and brands alike, with some media companies reporting a 4.4 times higher engagement rate on branded content than what's average for Facebook. The platform is now providing more detail on what qualifies as branded content both on Facebook and Instagram. The changes come hot on the heels of enhanced quality content protections pushed live in late 2017, and the sweeping algorithm change favoring family and friends announced early in 2018.

The most significant change to Facebook's branded content policy is that it will not accept paid branded content unless both partners had a role in the creation process. Specifically, the policy says, "Don't accept anything of value to post content that you did not create or were not involved in the creation of, or that does not feature you."

For example, if you run a fitness Page and post sponsored content for a brand like Gold's Gym, it would be acceptable to do so if:

  1. Your Page/publication created content FOR Gold's Gym. (E.g., wrote an article, filmed a video.)
  2. If the content comes from Gold's Gym directly, it MUST feature your Page/publication in some way. (I.e., a contest or offer for fans of that specific fitness Page.)

Gold's Gym cannot simply provide generic content to distribute to your Page's audience as an ad.

As a litmus test, ask yourself if what you're posting is original content made specifically for a relationship between your Page/publication and another brand. If it's not original in some way, chances are it's going to be flagged as an abuse of the policy.

It can be a bit confusing. Facebook provided more details on what qualifies as branded content after the original policy announcement. The policy update is an extension of Facebook's continuing efforts to end links to third-party pages with overbearing ads or dishonest content using clickbait methods. Even if you're publishing quality content, it's important to label it correctly. Here's a table to double check what your content may be identified as:

From Facebook.

Here is an example of what the branded content label looks like:

Image from Facebook.

Be sure to always include the branded content tag when it's applicable. Here's a step-by-step tutorial on how to use it. Be sure to always clearly mark the details of your partnership within the article your Facebook post links out to as well. Here's an example from Entrepreneur magazine:

The platform will be able to take note of these violations via a system that can differentiate a creator's post from an unaffiliated publisher that features the brand, but not the creator. If publishers or creators have repeat violations, the platform could restrict their access to monetization tools, including the branded content label. The platform could also require the brand to run the content as an ad to track its performance, according to Marketing Land. If publishers and creators are not careful about labeling their content correctly and following the new guidelines, their page boosts and promotions could be in danger of being blocked. Pages have been entirely blocked and banned from the platform for policy violations in the past.

The change is set to go into effect in March 2018.

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How to Control the Order of Posts on a Section Page

As an editor, you might want to manually control the order of your posts on any given section page. With our powerful CMS platform, this is as easy as dragging and dropping. Watch how it's done in the following video:

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Try This New Video Preview on Facebook Instant Articles

UPDATE: Facebook has temporarily disabled this feature. We will let you know when it is back. Here is more information from the Facebook team:

There's a new function for Facebook Instant Articles that shows a video preview on mobile. The option has been successful for some of our clients at RebelMouse, and we want you to give it a try too!

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How to Thrive in a World Without Ads

Mike Mallazzo, Director of Marketing at Narrativ, recently wrote a post on Medium: "Life After Ads: The recent purchase of TIME should remind publishers of the power a strong brand can wield."

He discusses how some media companies are starting to question their total reliance on digital advertising. With Facebook and Google capturing the majority of revenue in the online advertising space, Mallazzo talks about how some companies are diversifying their revenue streams with models that depend on building loyalty and trust through subscriptions and commerce content in addition to just advertising. He writes:

"Media conglomerates have rediscovered the power of brand equity, offering the most plausible hope for sustainability since the proliferation of the internet."

At RebelMouse, however, we are still seeing digital advertising work. Our clients — such as Dance Magazine — are seeing huge success with digital advertising. But what if you were a media company in a world where traditional digital advertising didn't work at all? What would you do? How would you make money and continue to grow as a company?

The key is loyalty. You can't have a brand without loyalty.

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