Apr 2016


Among Facebook’s new timeline updates is the proverbial ‘handshake’, an updated policy that will shake up your sponsored content on Facebook. 

Those sponsored ads you see from different brands every now and then? You’ll now see less of those. What you’ll see more, is co-branded content from the pages you already follow. In an attempt to make your newsfeed look more like you want it to, Facebook has made changes to how brands present their story.

In a recent blog, Facebook said “This update is something that media companies, public figures, influencers, and marketers have been asking for, as branded content is a growing and evolving part of the media landscape”.

Here’s a handy guide to help understand what’s changing, how it’s changing and what the various implications may be.

What is branded content?

Facebook defines branded content as any post with text, photos or video from a media company, celebrity or influencer that specifically mentions or features a third-party product, brand or sponsor.

So, what’s new?
So far, publishers have only been able to post sponsored content within Facebook ad units. Anything except paid placement for such content was pretty much against Facebook’s policy. This policy was, of course, in place so that Facebook got its fair share of revenue.

Now however, owing to massive user feedback, Facebook has moved towards a more inclusive approach. Sponsored content can now be a part of a brand’s own timeline, posting articles, images and videos provided it adheres to a few rules. These rules include getting verified by Facebook and using a special tag. This policy also includes Facebook Instant Articles, videos as well as the new Facebook Live feature.

How does this impact you?
Following the Federal Trade Commission’s recent guidelines, Facebook is trying to ensure that people do not confuse sponsored content with organic endorsements. Overly promotional content with watermarks and pre-roll ads may now not see the light of day. Cover photos and profile pictures cannot feature third-party sponsors or products. The only branded content integrations now allowed are product placements, end cards and marketers’ logos.

How does it work?
Under this new regime, all co-branded content will feature the ‘with’ tag (see image below).


Using this new tool (the handshake icon in the composer), publishers can tag their marketing partners while composing the post. The pages or marketers that are tagged in the post will get notified, have access to the post’s metrics and be able to use it to create adverts.

Take for example, Nike’s Air Jordans.


If an update on a new version is posted from Michael Jordan’s Facebook page, it will now be tagged ‘with’ Nike. Nike, on the other hand, will get notified, have access to all data related to the said post and will be able to see the relevant ad spend.

What does it mean for brands?

Facebook calls this development a boon for marketers, enabling them to more effectively utilize their branded content resources for ads and help actively gain sponsorships.

Claire Rubin, Facebook’s Product Manager, wrote, “People will now be connected to more of the content they care most about on Facebook as publishers and influencers gain an incentive to share more quality content, of all kinds, with their fans”.

This co-branded content will provide the marketers greater insight into which sponsorships are more popular with their Facebook audience. They can accordingly work towards popularizing such content better and assign ad spending to boost content that works best with their users.

Major global content publishers such as BuzzFeed and Mashable, that largely rely on sponsored ads for large-scale circulation stand to benefit the most given that Facebook brings in a significant percentage of their online traffic.

Since social media marketers will post co-branded content on their pages, observe the traffic, analyze the metrics, focus their ad spends on the highest performing pieces and then use Facebook ads to target and reach the maximum number of newsfeeds, it does seem like a win-win for both marketers and Facebook.

Facebook’s content-related changes present novel challenges for social media marketers, and we’re glad to help you update your content accordingly.  Check out our social media marketing services to know more.

And if you want a one-day course in content creation for social media, our sister company, FutureMarketer, is holding an in-depth Social Media & Viral Marketing workshop on 18 May in Singapore!

Srishti Gairola