There may be a way around Facebook’s 20% text rule for sponsored posts

Facebook 20% rule creative
Back in 2013, Facebook announced a change to their guidelines for promoted images on the channel, restricting the amount of text that could appear on them. Whilst this had a definite upside on the surface – nobody really wants to see ads that are peppered with text filling up their feed – it did pose a problem for designers. Considering Facebook’s global reach and estimated $23.68 billion ad revenue in 2015, you’d think they would have devised a sophisticated, intelligent tool for detecting the text on images to ensure it doesn’t surpass the 20% limit they had decided upon, while also allowing flexibility in design. Sadly not. Instead, we got an old-school 5x5 grid.
Having decided that $23.68 billion wasn’t enough, earlier this year Facebook ‘relaxed’ the 20% text ruling, stating that if you exceed it, rather than the ad being stopped from spending, it will still run but Facebook will just ensure it’s not shown to as many people as it otherwise would be.

On the surface, not really a change in ruling then; if you want to make the most of your media spend, you should still keep below 20% text. However, this change did bring with it a new tool for checking your images, and whilst there’s no official line to say the rigid 5x5 grid has now gone, we’ve noticed a couple of ways to get around it.

The workaround

In certain images, selecting a typeface that looks a little more handwritten or has a particularly light weighting can cause it to go undetected, but the easiest workaround is with colour (see below):
We asked one of the media agencies we work closely with to look at this further. After double-checking a selection of assets with Power Editor, they confirmed that they’re getting the green light too. There’s no exact science to getting this to work (we’ve been trialling plenty of images and can see no pattern whatsoever), so you very much have to try it and see, but the knowledge that there is at least some flexibility is reassuring.

“Designing for Facebook’s 20% rule can often be tricky. This new flexibility is welcome news for designers; however, we must still consider the parameters of our brand guidelines.”

Luke Bailey-Brown, at The Real Adventure Unlimited, shares the Design viewpoint.

Use copy sparingly

We’re absolutely not suggesting you now go forth and litter all of your Facebook content with text. Instead, put the old grid to the back of your mind, design in the way you think looks best and then tweak until you get the green light. We’d love to see how you get on, and hear about any patterns you notice in the approval process, so let us know on Twitter @realadventure!

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Callum Joynes
Social Media Creative

Having the opportunity to create something that makes people smile, feel informed, or even cry (in a nice way) is a pretty good reason to come to work in the morning.

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