Facebook has changed the 20% text rule – don’t start the party just yet

The moment social marketers have been waiting for has finally arrived. The 20% text rule on Facebook adverts has changed. I can hear the cheers from here. Don’t pop open the bubbly just yet – let’s look into the details first.

So what has Facebook actually said? They’ve stated that image text can now fall into 4 categories:

  • Image text: OK– your ad’s image contains little or no text. This is the preferred image style
  • Image text: Low– your ad’s reach may be slightly limited
  • Image text: Medium– your ad’s reach may be limited
  • Image text: High– you may not reach your audience if you use an image with this much text

Have they stated exactly how much text constitutes OK, low, medium or high? No, although there are visual examples shown. Have they given numbers or percentages to explain what reach is possible with “limited” and “slightly limited” text? It’s a no to that question too.

So, what does actually this mean? Firstly, and technically, the issue around how much text to use has become even more of a grey area. The wording used doesn’t bring clarity over who sees your ads, and there may be some initial confusion.

Secondly, and reading between the lines a little, the headlines from this change may appear to be positive, when in fact it could force brands to use far less than 20%. All will be revealed when there is some initial research and analysis on posts over the coming weeks.

What should your brand do? One option is to test varying levels of text within your ads, and measure the impact it has on reaching your intended audience. Essentially, test what works with your creative and your target audience. The alternative option is to keep an eye out for new research and studies, whilst reducing the amount of text you’re currently using by as much as is possible. Take away the risk, follow Facebook’s advice and make optimisations when there’s more data to hand.

But wait, there’s more. Facebook also added that the following types of text won’t limit delivery:

  • Movie posters
  • Book covers
  • Album covers
  • Product images (where an entire product can be seen)
  • Posters for festivals and events elated to music, comedy and sport
  • Text based businesses
  • App and game screenshots
  • Legal text
  • Infographics

This is great news. There will be opportunities for marketers to show their creative side, using as much text as they wish. This is highly dependent on Facebook’s software accurately identifying assets as being in the above categories. Advice – don’t rely on this happening. If you are going to test, then create assets with both minimal and larger amounts of text.

What isn’t allowed?

  • Logos
  • Watermark
  • Numbers

The same applies as above in terms of the accuracy of Facebook’s tool in identifying these components. If you’ve been advertising previously though then you should have a fair gauge or what works and what doesn’t.

Hopefully this update and advice is useful for your company – apologies for putting the party on hold. Whether this turns out to be positive news or negative news, as is so often the case, it will be testing and the use of data that will lead to informed decisions about your future social media activity.

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