If you are a blogger or business owner you have probably heard about the recent changes to Facebook regarding Branded Content. If you haven’t, you can read all about it here.

From Facebook,

Branded content is a growing and evolving part of the media landscape. On Facebook, we define this as content that features a third party product, brand, or sponsor (“marketer”). It is typically posted by media companies, celebrities, or other influencers. Verified Pages (with the blue checkmark) can share branded content on Facebook as long as they follow our updated branded content policy and ads policy and use the branded content tool to tag marketers in their posts.

Like many, I was extremely confused about the changes and what it meant for me and my blog. At first, I was smacked with the realization that I had been breaking the Facebook TOS all these years. It was just something that they haven’t really enforced.

Being someone who wanted to play by the rules, I figured I better get my page verified and start using the new Branded Content Tool. Only one problem. My page category wasn’t eligible to be verified at this time. This led to even more confusion.

With a plethora of articles floating over the internet about what this new policy meant and a lot of interruption and misleading advice, I decided to go straight to the source, Facebook. 

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How Does Facebook’s Branded Content Affect Me

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Q. I would like to comply with the new Facebook changes, but can’t verify my page. How can I make that happen? 

A. Although currently, we’re only accepting verification requests from Pages that represent celebrities, public figures, sports teams, media and entertainment. Our Pages Team is extremely backed up with Brand Requests at the moment and need some time to catch up, that is why we are unable to accept them at the moment.

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Q.  If I wanted to share a friends’ post or another article on my page, does that violate the branded content rule?

A. No, you and your Brand are free to ‘Share’ any friends Posts or article.

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Q. So while I am waiting to be verified, am I allowed to share branded content on a non-verified page?

A. Yes, you are allowed to do so.

My friend Lindsay of See Mom Click also spoke with Facebook and got a really good explanation on things!

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Q. My business is a website that partners with brands to market their products to my readers. If I do a post for, say for example, Kraft, and I write a recipe for them, am I permitted to share that content on my Facebook page? Or is that considered branded content and I’m prohibited from sharing it because I am not blue checkmark verified?

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A. As long as you have the relationship with them, that’s fine. It’s the Pages that are sharing other companies content for their own gain that will be affected.

Q. If I saw something cool I wanted to share with my readers on a brand’s website, like a neat project that Lowe’s featured, I wouldn’t be permitted to share that?

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A. Correct. If that content is branded. 

Facebook Representative Breaks It Down

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Under the updated branded content policy, media publishers and influencers must tag markerters in a branded content post, whether appearing on a Page as an organic post or as an ad. The Policy in addition to the tagging requirement, the policy restricts some types of branded content from our platform. People have told us that branded content that is more promotional in nature is less engaging. Based on this feedback, our policy guidelines prohibit overly promotional executions, such as persistant watermarks, pre-roll advertisements, and banner ads in branded content posts. For ads content, there are no creative restrictions beyond regular ad policy. 

But what about the Lowe’s scenario. In the example Lindsay gave above about Lowe’s that kind of looks like I could share as long as she tagged them. But she can’t use that new handshake tag because she doesn’t have a blue checkmark. 

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Q. What about sharing a post from another page that is NOT branded? That would be ok? For example, if I have blogger friend that wrote a great recipe, I could share that without worrying about it. 

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A. That would be fine. Non-branded is business as usual. 

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After a phone call with Facebook, I understand!

I was still confused so I asked the representative to call me. My major issue was “What if I can’t get blue verified? What do I do?”

And it’s pretty simple. You can’t flat out ask your readers to make a purchase in a Facebook post. You can’t say “This is the best Mac and Cheese in the world. You should go buy it now. Here’s the link.”

You can, however, say, “I made this awesome recipe featuring Kraft Mac and Cheese.” And don’t forget to disclose! 

And, I am sorry to report, this includes affiliate links. You are breaking the rules if you share an affiliate link on your page encouraging your readers to buy something. However, if you wrote a post featuring affiliate links, that is ok to share since you are directing readers to your site. 

Update: This article from Amy Lynn Andrews explains even more about Affiliate sharing on Facebook. 

So when can we expect to be able to be blue checkmarked verified?

According to Wayne, the representative I spoke to on the phone, it’s going to a take a while for it to trickle to down bloggers. They are focusing on major brands right now.

Now what?

Basically, business as usual. No sharing overly promotional updates. No directing followers to sites where they can make a purchase (like Amazon) unless it’s on my own page. And, most importantly, always, always disclose a relationship with a brand. 

Personal accounts used to share branded content are not affected by Facebook’s recent Branded Content Policy.

If you are using a Page on Facebook to share branded content and your page is NOT verified, continue business as usual. The updated policy released by Facebook recently does not apply to you.

If you are using a Page on Facebook to share branded content and your page is IS verified, you must use the new tool released by Facebook to share branded content and the updated policy does apply to you.

Yes, we are still talking about Facebook Branded Content.

I sat down with Be Blogalicious for their monthly Blab to talk all about being verified. You can watch the video below. 

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