On Friday, Facebook dropped its restriction around how branded content can be distributed on its social network. Anyone who runs a verified Facebook page — a publisher, brand or celebrity, for instance — can now post articles, videos, photos, links or other content to that page that someone else paid for without needing Facebook’s permission or cutting the company in on the proceeds.
Interesting move. Typically on the web, the FTC frowns upon this type of “branded content” without proper alerts for audiences.
Facebook has built in “tagging” to try to offer some disclosure, but I’m not sure that’s going far enough for most FB users:
There’s another catch: any eligible account posting content paid for by a brand to its Facebook page has to tag the brand so that the top of the post carries the line “[Publisher] with [Brand].” That tagging creates a way for marketers to be notified when a publisher posts content that’s paid for by their brand so that they can share it or promote it as an ad.
The ultimate arbiter, of course, is Facebook’s algorithm itself. Shared items that have a promotional “feel” to hear typically get throttled by the algorithm, which limits exposure on users’ newsfeeds, even if they’ve Liked a page.
It’s amazing how rapidly social algorithmic feeds such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat etc are changing the notions of what is permissible and profitable in the marketing world rather than conforming to tried-and-true tactics or even federal guidelines.
Like it or not, branded content is one of the most successful online marketing strategies over the last few years, and it doesn’t show any signs of slowing as brands, publishers, and social networks continue to figure out how to innovate around the concept.