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5 Facebook policies marketers should know by heart

5 Facebook policies marketers should know by heart Greg Kihlström

Over the years, Facebook has continually introduced new methods for marketers and advertisers to target and reach their audiences. Since the introduction of paid advertising through "Flyers" all the way back in 2004 through its latest and much more sophisticated offerings, the social media giant continues to find new ways to connect brands and audiences, while also increasing the value of its social network to those who do not want to be inundated with irrelevant advertising.

If you've been marketing on Facebook for a while, you've no doubt run across the platform's advertising policies once or twice, and perhaps you even got an ad rejected along the way. Either way, here are five Facebook policies you should always keep in mind as you plan and run your social media marketing and advertising efforts.

Text in images

If you've ever run an advertisement on Facebook, you've undoubtedly run into the platform's policy regarding the amount of text that is allowed in an advertising image. Initially, ads would simply get rejected if more than 20 percent of an ad's image consisted of text. This kept images relatively clean and focused on the subject matter instead of subjecting ad viewers to photos that had more text than image.

If you violated this policy, you would be warned and notified that your advertisement was rejected. Facebook has since revised this to include a solution that allows ads to run regardless of the amount of text, though those with more will show anywhere from seldom to never.


Text content within your ads is generally not restricted too much by Facebook unless your product or subject matter falls into its "prohibited" category (see the next item in this article). That changes, however, if you are choosing to offer a sweepstakes, contest, or what Facebook considers a "promotion."

If you are offering people the opportunity to win something such as a contest, you can't post it to users' personal timelines, and you also can't ask your audiences to post hashtags in their personal timelines for a chance to win. In other words, steer clear of the personal timeline! You can, however, place promotions messaging on your Facebook pages and apps.

Prohibited and restricted content

There are several types of content that are restricted within advertising on Facebook. The full list is here, and includes restrictions on advertising for alcohol, dating sites, gambling sites, and others, from surveillance equipment to payday or cash advance loans. There are also restrictions on branded content and content from financial services companies that are meant to protect consumers from misleading messaging.

Facebook also has strong policies against the use of Facebook's intellectual property. One common example of this is making sure that brands steer clear of insinuating that their brand or marketing efforts are "endorsed" by Facebook.

This also covers restrictions in how other third-party branding and content is used. In other words, just like anywhere else, you cannot incorporate materials or visuals into your advertisements that you do not have the rights to use. While it's pretty standard stuff, it is still important to keep in mind.

Lead Ads

Facebook Lead Ads allow marketers to create advertisements with clear, quick calls to action embedded within them. Whether it's signing up for a newsletter or getting a quote from a car dealer, this feature from Facebook helps marketers get more direct results from their audiences.

Although some of this should go without saying, marketers need to be careful about the types of information requested through a Facebook Lead Ad. This includes a lot of personally identifiable and secure information such as account numbers, social security numbers, and the like. It also includes other types of financial or health information.

In addition, be careful not to ask about religion, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. Facebook takes care to prevent discrimination based on these and other aspects, and is explicit in prohibiting anything like this in advertising placed on the network.

Subscription messaging

Facebook Messenger has opened up new ways for marketers to converse with their audiences. Traditionally, it required a customer to send a message to the business first, at which point the company could reply with relevant information, including sales-related content.

Subscription messaging was recently released and is currently (according to the Facebook site) in beta. This provides a new opportunity for Facebook users to subscribe to receive messages from a brand. This comes with a few restrictions, however. Marketers cannot simply send sales messages whenever they want if a user is subscribed. Instead, there are three categories of messages that can be sent through subscription messaging:

• News
• Productivity
• Personal Trackers

Note that none of these include "marketing messages" or anything similar. There is an interesting note in Facebook's policy that states that if a subscriber responds to one of those messages, normal rules apply. This means that if a user signs up to receive news alerts, then responds to one of those news messages, the brand can then send a marketing message.


In the ever-changing world of Facebook marketing, it's important to keep up with the latest policies and best practices in order to avoid being restricted in your efforts to reach your audiences. As Facebook continues to be a dominant platform for digital marketers and advertisers, you can be certain that its policies will continue to evolve as usage changes and as new features are released. If you're ever in doubt, you can always refer to its policy page, which is updated regularly.

Greg is SVP of Digital at Yes&, a performance-driven marketing agency in the Washington, DC region. He was founder and CEO of Carousel30, a digital agency he started in 2003 which was acquired in late 2017 by PCI Communications which, together...

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to leave comments.

Commenter: Sarah Israel

2017, June 02

While not technically a Facebook restriction, advertisers should also keep in mind that there the standard character limits for News Feed ads don’t fit across all devices. So remember that only the post text line comes through on Instagram and a long description might get cut off on Mobile if you’re lumping desktop and mobile placements together. Easy fix for a poor customer experience!