If you’re in any way familiar with social media marketing, you’re aware of some specific rules regarding advertising on your Facebook business or fan page.
For a long time, Facebook’s 20% text rule was one that few people were aware of. The rule stated that text couldn’t make up more than 20% of the image of your Facebook Ad. Facebook was very strict with this, and many advertisers saw their ads rejected because of it. They even had a (now discontinued) grid tool where you could upload your planned ad to see exactly how much of the image your text took up in order to save you time waiting for a response from Facebook. The old rule even rejected ads from businesses containing text on products, including t-shirts or coffee mugs.
The grid tool that Facebook had available was great, in that you could see exactly where your text landed on the image. If your text touched more than 5 out of 20 boxes, you knew you were missing the mark. It allowed you to rethink size and placement of your text, though it forced you to put watermarks or logos in strange places on your ad.
In the first quarter of 2016, Facebook changed their 20% rule, or at least they changed how your image passed or failed the original rule. Instead of a handy grid tool, now Facebook gives a rating: Ok (your ad will run normally,) Low (your ad’s reach may be slightly lower,) Medium (your ad’s reach may be much lower,) and High (your ad may not run.) The text rule includes more than just words on your image, as well; Numbers, text based logos (regardless of size), as well as required watermarks are all taken in to account.
There are a few exceptions to the rule, mostly regarding posters, products with text on them, as well as comics and infographics.
As with all changes, there are some advantages, and disadvantages, to the new system.
The good? Advertisers and businesses are technically not (as) limited to the text on their images on Facebook anymore. You could always have less text, but now you can add more if your promotion really needs it. There’s just a bit of wiggle room, which gives a little more freedom and control to the images used in Facebook advertising.
The bad? While the 20% rules’ update offers seemingly more wiggle room, the rule itself is still pretty vague. Having the ability to add more text than before seems like a reason to rejoice… but, it may not do you much good, as your reach could be limited (and in some cases where your ad is rated “High”, may not even be displayed at all). Facebook also still seems to prioritize images without text above those with text.
While the strict rule may have changed enough to give advertisers just a bit more freedom, it’s wise to err on the side of caution, and only use text that is absolutely necessary.
Test your own images with Facebook’s Text Overlay Tool.