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    The New Branded Content Policy And How It Affects You

    If you belong to any business groups on Facebook, chances are you’ve heard about the new Facebook Branded Content Policies that were updated on April 26th 2016.

    The last few days have been filled with panic and confusion as people tried to understand what it meant for them, me included. Naturally we all want to comply and for most brands it did became clear over the weekend that they were not affected, however when it came to bloggers and brand reps in sponsorship deals (those without the blue tick), it was about as clear as mud!

    So I want to put everyone’s mind at ease. Take a deep breath, relax and read on :)

    The new Branded Content Policies ONLY applies to pages who have been BLUE BADGE verified (blue tick) who are sharing third party promotional content that they are being PAID to promote. Everyone else who is grey tick verified or not verified, there are some precautions to take if you wish to share promotional content you are being paid for and I’ll explain those further down, but for now, you can stop stressing out!

    1. What is Branded Content and who is affected by the new policies?

    From Facebook:

    “Branded content on Pages is only allowed from Verified Pages (with the blue badge) on Facebook and must adhere to the following policies. Branded content on Pages is defined as content originating from a Page owner that features third party products, brands, or sponsors that are different from the Page owner. When posting non-prohibited branded content integrations, Pages must use the Branded Content tool to tag the featured third party product, brand, or sponsor.”

    Key points:

    • It only applies to blue badge (blue tick) Verified Pages.
    • Branded Content is content posted on behalf of a third party (ie not you and not Facebook).
    • When posting Branded Content, verified pages must use the new Branded Content Tool to tag the third party (the handshake icon below).

     branded content tool

    So, after reading the new policies on the weekend, many questions were raised. First of all, this definition did not clearly state that branded content was PAID content. What about getting blue tick verified? What about non verified bloggers or brand reps doing reviews or promoting other brands via their blogs and publishing them on Facebook?

    To make things even harder to come to grips with, a number of blogs about the new policies were circulating which didn’t fully address these questions, so although it became clear that most businesses who were NOT in any kind of paid or sponsorship arrangement were unaffected, there were still questions about non verified bloggers and brand reps and whether they were impacted by these changes or not.

    First of all, getting the blue badge (blue tick) is pretty much out of the question for 99% of you reading this. Blue badge verification is currently only available if you are a celebrity, public figure, sports team or media and entertainment page. And Facebook themselves have stated they are backed up with requests. The grey tick verification is NOT the same as the blue tick.

    The questions about the bloggers and brand reps remained and many discussions were had (I saw them taking place in groups in NZ, Australia and the US - no one was able to clearly answer these questions other than to speculate, or to post more blogs which we were not sure were accurate).

    I messaged Facebook myself and they replied with this guide. After reading it thoroughly I was confident that the new policies were about PAID content and not about sharing posts about other businesses that you have no commercial relationship with.

    My gut feeling was that more clarification would come to light over the coming days to help us all understand how we were affected by these changes – and it did!

    2. What to do if you are NOT Blue Badge (tick) verified

    This will apply to most of you reading. And thankfully, it’s pretty simple (source Mari Smith). If you do not have blue badge verification, you can carry on as normal, however the advice is to indicate and disclose when you have been paid by a third party or sponsor.

    So, if you are a blogger or brand rep in any sort of paid or sponsorship arrangement (including taking payment in the form of product), keep doing your thing. Continue reviewing products and writing blogs and posting on Facebook. To have all your bases covered, you should do the following:

    • Disclose in your post that this is a sponsored post e.g. use a hashtag like #sponsored or #ad
    • Include a short statement saying you are receiving payment by a third party and link to a full disclosure statement (hosted on your blog or website, or your Facebook page if you don’t have a blog or website).
    • Tag the third party you are promoting.

    For the time being this is all you need to do. But as you know, Facebook is always changing and there may come a day when ALL brands need to follow the Branded Content Policies and use the new Handshake tool, but for now, you do not need to worry at all about not having the blue tick.

    3. What to do if you are Blue Badge verified

    This new policy applies to you. It ensures that media publishers and influencers tag marketers in all Branded Content posts by using the Branded Content tool. This includes both organic posts and ads.

    Some types of Branded Content are restricted e.g. persistant watermarks, pre-roll advertisements; and banner ads in branded content posts.

    So in a nutshell, if you are blue tick verified and posting PAID content you must use the new Branded Content Tool. This ensures that the commercial relationship you have with the third party is clear and they are tagged correctly.

    If you have read the links above you’ll also know that this means that as well as being notified of the post, the third party will have access to high level performance insights (reach, engagement etc) and be able share the Branded Content to their own page and boost it to their own audience. This is actually a GOOD thing for the third party/sponsors.

    Check the Facebook Branded Content Policies for detailed information from Facebook about the new policies.

    Summary

    • For most of us, there is little change. If you are not blue badge verified these changes do not apply to you.
    • If you are not blue badge verified and you are sharing sponsored or paid content from a third party, you must disclose the relationship in your posts as outlined above.
    • Facebook Groups and Personal accounts are NOT affected by the changes.
    • If you are blue badge verified and sharing content you are being paid to promote you MUST use the new Branded Content Tool.
    • For an excellent overview of the new policies and an explanation of why these changes have come about read this post by Mari Smith.

    Sources:

    https://www.facebook.com/policies/brandedcontent/

    https://www.facebook.com/facebookmedia/get-started/branded-content

    https://www.facebook.com/marismith/posts/10153467010610009

    Image source: http://www.pdpics.com/