Facebook. It’s one of the most popular websites and communities in the world, making it a great platform for advertising. With many people getting their news directly from the platform, Facebook has introduced policies to make clear when information is a paid promotion, and in some cases, who is paying for it. This is most commonly seen in its Political, Election, and Social Issue advertising policy.

I hear you asking yourself: I’m not a political brand. Why does this matter to me? Well, my friend, read on and find out.

Facebook’s advertising policy requires an extra layer of security for accounts that advertise what Facebook deems to be issues related to politics. But political content is not the only thing requiring additional authorization these days. Facebook has recently updated its restrictions to include social issues. Where before, ad content discussing only political topics, and then election-related topics were flagged, the list now includes broader items including healthcare and security. And the updates are not over yet. Facebook is updating this list regularly so topics included under these political or social issue categories will continue to change.

For those looking to advertise on the platform, these changes mean managing a regularly changing landscape as these classified topics rise and fall quickly. That’s why it is helpful to have a seasoned agency team in your corner, helping you navigate these changing tides. If you’re looking for help with your digital marketing strategy, be it advertising in Facebook or other digital marketing initiatives, reach out to our team at info@charlesriverinteractive.com. We’d be happy to help.

Why did Facebook change its political advertising policies?

The roots of the change stretch back a number of years, but are most famously tied to the lead up to the 2016 US Presidential Election. By introducing increased transparency into the behind-the-scenes workings of their advertising platform, Facebook is attempting to distance itself from much of the echo-chamber blowback seen following social and political events like Brexit, the Rohingya crisis, and investigations into Russian interference with U.S. elections in 2016.

The official policy was originally introduced in April 2018, and sought to denote ads related to political topics such as elections or specific pieces of legislation. The policy soon expanded to include topics deemed to be of “National Importance”. Non-profits focused on human rights, international politics, and immigration were some of the first to really feel the impact of this new practice. As political climates and discussions shifted, this categorization extended further, coming to include hot social topics like immunizations and even, as seen in April 2019, the Boston Marathon.

Spring of 2019 marked a turning point in Facebook’s application of this practice. A seemingly ever-increasing number of topics were coming under the policy umbrella that has now been redefined as, “Social issues, elections, or politics”. At CRI, we see these changes impact campaigns and client goals every day. As recently as last week, some of our technology clients’ ads have been reevaluated and flagged based on language around cybersecurity or cyberattacks.

Chatting with our Facebook representatives, we know that these categories of interest are only going to continue to broaden, especially as we enter into the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election cycle.

What can my brand do to make sure our ads can run?

There is a simple answer: get approved to run these types of ads.

While some brands are unlikely to be impacted by this particular set of rules, many others will be. And as Facebook is updating their list regularly, you may not know a topic will be flagged beforehand (such as the above examples of the Boston Marathon or cyberattacks).

Having the ability to react quickly to changes in the Facebook platform will help you ensure your brand can react to current events and be in front of key audiences when topics and conversations are fresh.

Some organizations I have worked with are concerned that, by becoming authorized to run political or social topics ads, they will appear to their audiences as being political when that’s not their business model. Rest assured—being authorized to run these types of ads does not mean you have to run them. There is a simple button that can be toggled to distinguish if the ad has political/social issue material or not right in the ad build within the Facebook Ads Manager platform.

Note: only those authorized to run these ads will see this option in Ads Manager.

The process to set your page up as an approved advertiser of this content requires a number of steps and can seem a bit overwhelming. That’s why we’ve put together a handy step-by-step guide to help you check all of the boxes. Click here to read our full guide to becoming authorized to run Social Issues, Politics, or Election-related ads in the Facebook Network.