From The Blog

How to Navigate the Facebook Branded Content Minefield

Facebook branded content rules – holy mother of pearl – what a complicated mess they’ve made of sponsored posts.  If you’re a business or community owner nurturing your network via Facebook, the rules have changed… substantially.

Facebook Branded Content is, in a nutshell “Content originating from page owner that features third party products, brands or sponsors that are different to the page owner” – FB Branded Content Guidelines

Sponsored Post Notification

Image Credit

The new Facebook branded content rules are being hotly debated by specialist digital lawyers as the disclosure mechanisms are arguably in contradiction with consumer laws.

With the caveat that I am not a lawyer, just someone who spent quite a few hours reading Facebook guidelines and legal forums, this seems to to be the new rule of thumb for using branded content on Facebook.

Infographic about Facebook Branded Content definitions

Page Verification

There are now three classifications for your page – public figure (including brands and media companies), business or organisation and non-verified.  If this is all news to you, you can go right ahead and assume your page is not yet verified.  The verification process for business involves providing some information to Facebook and then accepting a text or phone call with a verification code.  Alternatively, you can provide business documentation to confirm that you’re operating a legit business. Note that once you’ve verified your page, you may find it difficult to sell if you sell your business some day.  To verify your page, go here.

I’m a celebrity, bill me!

If you’re classified as a public figure, you alone have the right to post branded content to your Facebook page.  You will see a “handshake” symbol appear on your update box and you will use that to declare if a post is being made for commercial purposes.  The person paying you can then see your post stats and Facebook can bill you for “their cut”.  Facebook promises better results from these handshake posts in exchange for their commission.

Public figures, big brands and verified media agencies can use the handshake tool top post a bunch of things we’re not allowed to post, provided sponsorship is disclosed:

  • Promotions
  • Videos and photos
  • Video endcards
  • Product placements
  • Sponsor logos

Rules for the rest of us plebs

We’re not famous.  We’re just business and community owners trying to make their way in the digital world.  The general rule for us is “Share Don’t Post”.  You can share whatever you like – if it’s sponsored, you must declare it.  You can no longer post content that is branded.  So you cannot download and then re-upload a funny meme if it has a watermark or branding on it.  You can’t use your Facebook page to create original content that promotes someone else.  To see the full policy, click here.

The list of 100% banned content on Facebook

In addition to these changes, Facebook has created a list of content that is no longer permissible on the platform.  The new guidelines apply to “ any post — including text, photos, videos, Instant Articles, links, 360 videos, and Live videos — that features a third party product, brand, or sponsor.”

Video Content

  • Pre, mid or post roll ads.  These are ads that a “chopped in” to a video.  This is interesting because it is how YouTube chooses to advertise.  With Facebook rolling out more in-depth video tools, this may be a way to eventually ban YouTube shares.
  • Overly sponsored videos.  Videos that feature sponsored content in the first three seconds or for longer than five seconds in total.  For example graphic overlays and watermarks, title cards etc.
  • Banner ads


  • Third party branding including logos, watermarks and anything else you can come up with (think of all the branded “Some Ecards” memes you’ve posted)!
  • Third party branding in cover phones, profile pictures or link previews

Grey areas in the branded content rules

  • You may share sponsored content from your own site, as long as the images do not violate the Facebook Branded Content Policy.  You must declare that it is sponsored content (this is the law anyway, after that whole “cash for comment” debacle a few decades back).
  • Sharing branded content is fine if it originated from another source.  If for example, you wish to share an article from the BBC website, go right ahead!
  • In theory, if you are NOT a verified page and you post something about a friend’s page that isn’t sponsored, you are still breaking the rules.  Even if you didn’t take a penny for it.  You must share from the original page only.  Unfortunately, with privacy rules, this means that sharing stuff you see in groups and on personal profiles that contains branding cannot be used at all.

What does approved branded content look like?

Example of Blue Verified Branded Content Sharing

{Page Name} with {Sponsor Name} appears at the top of the post in a very similar way to a tagged photo.   It lacks the full disclosure of the typical hashtag #SP used to indicate a sponsored post in the past.  There is some debate whether this is enough disclosure from a legal standpoint.  For now though, when you see this on a big brand or a celeb’s page, you know you’re looking at sponsored content.

All clear on Facebook branded content rules?

Nope?  Not surprising.  The definitions largely come down to the difference between a post and a share.  Sharing hasn’t changed all that much (although you must disclose if you were paid to share) but posting content is about to be much trickier.  In theory everything you post should be checked for compliance against the Facebook Branded Content policy.  If it’s like any of the other rules that Facebook has rolled out over the years, as long as they’re getting their cut, they’ll police the non-profitable side of things sporadically, taking down a few big players as a warning to others – then everyone returns to business as usual.

How to prevent branded images being “pulled through” into link previews

Can I sell my Facebook page?

Sharing from Insta to your Facebook page – what you need to know.

Running a Facebook Group?  Why not get paid to do it?