Disclaimer: Information shared below represents our findings to date. We will continue to update this post as we learn more.

On April 8, Facebook announced the release of a new tool for branded content on verified pages to create easier collaboration on sponsored posts between pages and brands.

The initial reaction to the announcement was mostly confusion about what exactly these new guidelines meant for brands and bloggers. This was especially the case for social media influencer marketing agencies, including The Motherhood, since we work with a network of “micro influencers” who promote sponsored content on their Facebook pages frequently.

According to Markerly, marketers are seeing higher engagement results with “micro influencers,” meaning those smaller-in-reach pages produce high value for brands through their devoted and active Facebook audience. The problem and source of confusion for many is that their Facebook pages are not eligible to be officially verified, and that verification is what allows access to the branded content tool.

Before we answer what this all means for marketers running influencer campaigns, let’s back up:

What is the Facebook branded content tool?

It’s a new tool integrated into Facebook that allows media outlets and celebrities to tag content that includes a third party, brand, or sponsor. It is currently only available to users who have the blue verification badge.

Branded content can be a post, link, photo or video. Through the new branded content tool, publishers of these posts tag the marketer or sponsor’s page. The marketer who is tagged will get a notification and receive access to insights on that post (such as the number of people who have seen it, click-throughs, etc.). Branded content will be displayed like the image below – notice the ‘”with” and tagging of the brand at the top of the post.

Facebook branded content tool

Do all influencers have to use the Facebook branded content tool?

After multiple conversations with Facebook representatives, our friend Stephanie from A Grande Life received answers to questions we’ve all been asking.

Influencers, bloggers and content creators are permitted to share content on behalf of a brand as long as they have a relationship with them. If a blogger shares a link to a sponsored blog post on his or her own website, that is not considered to violate guidelines, even if that blog post is sponsored or contains affiliate links – because the page is sharing content that they own. FTC guidelines still apply here, however, and disclosure notices should be used.

What is not permitted by Facebook is sharing affiliate links, getting paid to post a brand’s content or asking people to buy directly in a Facebook post. In those cases, the influencer is required to be blue verified and use the Facebook branded content tool.

Stephanie gives an awesome example of this in her 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! 

Get the complete scoop on Stephanie’s blog.

Engaging influencers in campaigns who are not blue verified

This is okay! You are engaging bloggers in a direct relationship with the brand, to promote and own the sponsored content on their respective blogs. When they link to that content from Facebook, they are not in violation of Facebook policy. Pages that are not currently eligible for blue verification can continue to promote sponsored blog content without the branded content tool as long as they continue to abide by FTC guidelines.

Most influencers are currently not able to be blue verified on Facebook. Facebook representatives explained that they are backed up with verification requests and are currently “only accepting verification requests from Pages that represent celebrities, public figures, sports teams, media and entertainment.” We do expect that this Facebook branded content tool and associated policies will become applicable to bloggers in the future.

Best practices for sponsored content on Facebook moving forward:

  • Disclose that the post is sponsored by a brand by using “ad” or “sponsored” in the post.
  • If a post is flagged as not complying with the new branded content policies, Facebook will not penalize the page or delete the post; however, they will give you a warning that the post violated their guidelines.
  • The blue verification and Branded Content Tool will likely take a while to become applicable to bloggers.
  • If you are a brand or company reaching out to influencers to share branded content on their Facebook pages, we highly suggest consulting a marketing agency that has knowledge on the subject and is up-to-date on all policies. You can contact The Motherhood with inquiries at contact@themotherhood.com.

In our research since publishing this post, we have come across interesting articles on the topic which we would also like to share with you:

We are still following the news on the Facebook branded content tool and related topics, and we will be sure to keep our readers updated as the situation evolves — which, as many social media marketers know, is bound to happen! We welcome any feedback.

Updated: May 5, 2016