I have been using Facebook’s branded content tool from the day my page became verified which was a few months before it was released to most FB pages.
When it was launched and until January 25, 2018, my understanding was that it was to be used any time that any
“exchange of value” occurred between myself (the page owner) and a third party. I used it for blog sponsors, affiliate links and content partners. Basically, if I was getting paid in some way, I used the tool to tag whoever would be paying me.
During that time period, one thing that kept coming up was that affiliates like Amazon didn’t want to be tagged with the branded content tool, but as I read the rules, it would be against FB policy to post an affiliate link WITHOUT it just in case someone ended up buying something and a payment to me was triggered. At one point, I told Amazon that I couldn’t post their affiliate links if they wouldn’t allow me to tag them.
Because I am a rule follower.
Because I have spent years of time, energy and effort on my Facebook page. Based on the interaction from those who follow the page, it appears it was time, energy and effort well-spent. Quirky Momma has 3.3 Million fans grown completely organically.
To maintain a page of that size requires continual content creation, content curation (including video and live video), partner management, affiliate management, page moderation, inbox moderation, contributor management…all that before even one post is scheduled or published. I was able to maintain the level of staff it required because of the income the page generated through partnerships, sponsorships and affiliate sales.
And then came Facebook’s new branded content policy which FB defines as:
“We define branded content as a creator or publisher’s content that features or is influenced by a business partner for an exchange of value. “
These rules are in effect for Instagram as well.
All the rules are as expected making sure that users follow FB guidelines and comply with applicable laws and regulations.
The one that stood out as being a definite change was number 6:
“Don’t accept anything of value to post content that you did not create or were not involved in the creation of, or that does not feature you.“
Every single day on my FB page the top performing posts are affiliate posts and partner posts. Affiliate posts sound like they wouldn’t fall within the new guidelines? And partner posts don’t either.
Both affiliate and partner posts are carefully curated to fit the Quirky Momma audience perfectly. It isn’t like we can just pop anything up there and have it do well!
But now it appears that these are out of bounds for the new policy and our page reach is plummeting. Not because organic reach is dead, but because we aren’t allowed to post what our audience interacts with.
Obviously, removing affiliate and partner posts also has caused a significant amount of my income to be lost overnight. What I don’t think FB understands is that this has a snowball effect on how much time and money I can spend on my page and how many people I can hire to help me.
The quality of content on FB was just significantly decreased with this action. And instead of spending the next few months trying to overcome this algorithm, I am simply raising the white flag.
You win, FB. You get less of my creative energy, time and money – all because you were afraid that a few dollars that come my way to support my Facebook community might be taking away from the ad dollars spent on your platform.
The other thing that drives me a little insane about FB is that it appears to intentionally create vague guidelines and then enforce unequally. Because I am a rule follower and have a community whose size draws attention to it, I can’t risk operating in the gray area. FB will never come to me and say, “No, you misunderstood that.” In fact, if you ask 5 people at Facebook, you will get 4 different answers and none of them are in the compliance department. Those pages on FB who ignore or are ignorant of this change will continue to make money and serve their audience while those of us who can’t risk it will disadvantage our fans.
It all is just a hot mess.
And I need a nap…
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