It may seem nearly impossible at times with how fast social media moves, but it is our job as (good!) marketers to stay ahead of the trends. One day Facebook tells you one thing, the next day Instagram tells you something else, and what the $#%$ do you even do with Snapchat?! Take a step back...Breathe. We are here to help! For the purposes of this update though, we'll focus solely on the recent changes to the Facebook platform and their implications, including:
- The rollout of Facebook live video for all users
- The easing of the branded content guidelines
- And how the 20% rule for ads is changing
Previously only available to high-profile figures, Facebook live video is now available to boring folks like you and I! Following a time-tested launch approach, Facebook created buzz around live video by 'soft rolling' it through celebrities. After the feature was sufficiently refined, it was rolled out to the masses, meaning you can now live stream your super fascinating life similar to how you would on Periscope or Meerkat. Check out Facebook's help center for a quick guide on getting started with live video.
For the past few years, Facebook has been pushing the importance of video and the network has even surpassed video juggernaut Youtube in terms of viewership. Facebook knows that users engage with videos on a higher rate than other forms of content, so videos have been given priority within the news feed algorithm. Almost 5% higher rate of organic reach? Check. Better engagement rates? Check. Incorporating some video into your content strategy should certainly be on your radar at this point.
Now for small businesses, you might be thinking "I don't have the team, equipment, or production budget to create videos on par with huge brands." That's perfectly okay! Facebook live video is a great equalizer here and gives anyone the ability to create fun, interactive video tailored to your audience. Events at the office, webinars, and Q&A's are all easy content wins for live streaming. Pro tip: promote your live stream a few hours in advance right on Facebook to use your existing followers as your initial audience.
Another possibly beneficial update for Facebook marketers, the network is loosening its guidelines for how and where branded content can be posted. Facebook has always disallowed influencers and other large pages from taking advantage of its huge network to post branded 3rd-party content, unless it was part of a paid ad campaign. The rule previously stated:
"Advertising on Pages: Third-party advertisements on Pages are prohibited, without our prior permission."
In an official blog post, Facebook indicates that now any accounts that are verified (i.e. have the small check mark next to their name to indicate the account has been confirmed as authentic) can now post branded content including text, photos, videos, Instant Articles, links, 360 videos, and Live videos. This could present an opportunity for you to reach out to thought leaders within your industry to share your branded content and boost your reach without having to put additional money into ad spend. Click here for a full updated guidelines via Facebook.
20% Text Guidelines
Ah, the bane of every amateur Facebook marketer's existence: the 20% text rule. The rule which states that ad images must not have more than 20% text, was originally put into effect to protect users from ads that were essentially walls of ad copy. Some lamented the guidelines, even though they were implemented to keep a quality baseline for the advertising done through Facebook's platform.
Have you been dying to bore your followers with completely text-based ads? Well, it looks like soon you'll be able to! Facebook is currently in the process of completely phasing out the 20% rule in favor of a sliding scale. With this scale, ads would be broken down into four categories:
- Image Text: Ok – No effect on reach.
- Image Text: Low – Reach may be limited.
- Image Text: Medium – Reach will likely be somewhat limited.
- Image Text: High – Reach will be very limited and still may not be approved.
What does this guideline shift mean for you? Hopefully, nothing. Don't be tempted to post text-heavy ads just because you can. The 20% rule existed in the first place because Facebook knows that consumers will respond better to quality ads that have concise copy. Before you create the ad, stop and think: "Is this an ad I wouldn't mind seeing on my Facebook?"
Still have more questions about Facebook? Download our newest eBook, The 7 Secrets of Facebook Marketing for Small Businesses!