Facebook boosted posts, and all advertising, are no longer limited to 20% text on images. The rule was changed recently after Facebook completed a pilot of the new system.

Facebook still prefers images in boosted posts and other advertisements to use less text. The more text used in advertised content the less exposure Facebook may give the paid content in the News Feed.

Image Categories For Facebook Boosted Posts

Essentially Facebook categorizes boosted posts and other advertising with images as follows:

  • Image text: OK (preferred image style)
  • Image text: Low (ad reach may be slightly lower)
  • Image text: Medium (ad reach may be much lower)
  • Image text: High (ad may not reach your audience)

To find out how Facebook will categorize a particular image, use their ‘Image Test Check’ Tool (aka the ‘Text Overlay Tool’).

*See the graphic on this page for a sample of each category. The source is Facebook and the graphic links through to the Facebook Page with information about the change.

Content Lost In The News Feed Without Image(s)

Images are an important part of sharing content (paid or organic) on Facebook. So too on other social networks. Without an image or images, content shared on Facebook, whether by Pages or individuals, is easily missed in the News Feed.

Facebook says, “Adding a relevant image of your product or service can be one of the most powerful factors in determining the success of your Facebook ads. When you use images, try to include as little text as possible on the image itself. For any text you use in your ad, we recommend that you include it in the post, rather than the image. Our research has shown that people prefer to see ads with minimal image text.” (highlight added)

Facebook Favours Images With Less Text

While Facebook still favours images that have less text, there is no longer the hard and fast “20% or less” rule.

You choose the amount of text you want to have on any image you share. When you go to boost a post, or create an ad, Facebook will let you know if the reach of the post or ad may be limited. In some cases, they may say “your ad may not run’. (Notice the ‘may’ … in other words, your ad ‘may’ still run.)

Worst case, if you create paid content that Facebook doesn’t show in the News Feed, because of too much text, you won’t pay for reach. Or, you may find you get some reach but not as much as you had hoped for.

Facebook is trying hard to make sure the content fans see in their News Feed is what they want to see, which often does not include promotional content from brands. Realistically, if you want to reach potential fans/customers in a way that has them wanting to see more of your content, rather than less, you need to be wise about what you share on your Page.

When people don’t like what they see from you in their News Feed, Facebook makes it easy for them to hide your content (see the pop up of options below). Your fans can also choose to ‘unlike’ your Page so they won’t see you in their News Feed. This is one of the stark differences between print advertising and social media advertising. With social media if people don’t like what they see in their News Feed they have easy ways to block it, and you, to show their displeasure. Not so with print media.

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Most Facebook Pages Don’t Take Advantage of Boosting Content

Few Facebook Pages seem to take advantage of paying for Facebook reach.

The number of active Facebook Pages was in the range of 40 million in 2015, 30 million in 2014. For 2016, it’s probably closer to 50+ million! The number of Pages that are active Facebook advertisers was 2 million in 2015. That means roughly 5% of active Pages were paying to boost content or advertise in other ways on Facebook in 2015!

Even if that number has doubled in the past year to 10%, Pages choosing to pay to boost content and advertise on Facebook can be considered Early Adopters. They have recognized the opportunities and taken advantage of them before the masses jump on board.

The price to advertise on Facebook is still very low, when the options available and the potential reach are compared to other online and print options. Unless of course, the audience you hope to reach is not on Facebook. If they’re not on Facebook it doesn’t make sense to advertise there.

Why You Should Be Paying For Reach On Facebook

You may not want to pay to reach your fans or others in the Facebook News Feed. However, if you’re not willing to pay for reach on Facebook, should you even be on Facebook?

Facebook has slowly been weaning Pages off of the notion of free reach (easily getting into the News Feed of fans) for several years now. As early as 2012, if not earlier, Facebook was making changes to limit the amount of Page content that made it into their fans’ News Feed.

At the end of June (2016) Facebook announced more changes to their News Feed. These changes will make it even more difficult for the content you share on your Facebook Page to be seen in the News Feed of those who have liked your Page.

There are a few Pages that do well on Facebook without paying. They are rare! It’s not usually because these Pages show up in the News Feed of their fans much more than you or I do. It’s often because they have built an engaged and passionate audience who actually visit their Facebook Page on a regular basis to find out what’s happening or what’s new.

For most Pages though, if your fans don’t see your content in their News Feed from time to time, they won’t see you on Facebook period!

If your fans don’t see you on Facebook, they won’t think about you or remember your business. If they don’t see what you share on Facebook, and they don’t think of you or remember you, when they come to need what you have to offer, it may be your competitors they turn to, not you.

Paying For Facebook, It’s No Longer The Future

Paying for Facebook, by using Facebook boosted posts, is no longer the future! Now, to ensure your fans and/or new fans see your content in the Facebook News Feed, prepare to pay. If you don’t, those who have liked your Page are unlikely to see much, if anything, of what you share.

Just last week, internationally recognized Facebook expert, Mari Smith, said: Facebook organic (free) reach is down to a mere 1-6% of your fans. That is, for every 100 people on Facebook who liked your business page, only 1-6 of them actually see your posts in their News Feed.”

Examiner.com put it this way in 2014: “Facebook statistics show organic reach for your Business Page is dropping like a bowling ball off a high-rise.” And that was in 2014!

Today, chances are if you aren’t investing time and advertising money in Facebook, you’re losing out.

Facebook’s recent change to how they view text in ads and boosted posts offers new opportunities for how Pages use images. Coupons, inspirational quotes, tips, are all possibilities now, as long as you don’t go crazy with the text. Not everything you share on your Facebook Page is likely to be content you should pay to promote. For some Pages, maybe. For most Pages, unlikely. Pay to promote the content your fans and others want to see in their News Feed.

To find out how Facebook categorizes an image with text in your advertising, use the ‘Image Test Check’ Tool (aka the ‘Text Overlay Tool’).

Note: The image below shows a sample of a boosted inspirational post set to reach fans and their friends. It was given a ‘Medium’ rating by Facebook’s Image Test Check. The spend at the time of this image was $1.75 for reaching 269 people, with organic/paid reach of 550. The post was liked by 26 people and 3 shared the post. Paid reach helped fuel the organic reach of 281 people.

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