Facebook’s New “20% Rule” for Cover Photos and Sponsored Stories

Facebook has changed the game again. This time, imposing new restrictions on your page’s prime piece of real estate- the cover photo- while simultaneously allowing your news feed ads to sell, sell, sell.

Facebook recently disseminated information regarding changes to their image policy which will go into effect on January 15th. The change, which affects images shared as cover photos, as well as images included in page post ads and sponsored stories for news feed, may force brands to reconsider their content strategy for Facebook at a time when ad buys on the platform are becoming increasingly necessary for brands.

The main component of the policy change is the introduction of a new “20% rule”, which states that cover and sponsored post images may not contain more than 20% text.  The change will not apply to ads running on the right hand side of the page.

  • For page post ads and sponsored stories, the 20% rule effectively replaces existing policy prohibiting CTAs and price or purchase information in images. Such text is now permitted, provided it conforms to the 20% rule.


  • For cover photos, the 20% rule will be an addition to existing policy, which will continue to prohibit CTAs and price or purchase information.

While utilizing CTAs and price/purchase info within sponsored stories is now permitted, brands should be wary of spamming users with excessive sales messaging and continue to heed the following best practice guidelines:

  • Keep it simple: Images should be quickly and easily discernible and messaging succinct.
  • Focus on quality: Utilize high resolution images which adhere to proper post or cover photo size requirements.
  • Most importantly, know your audience: User sentiment research undertaken by Facebook has shown that images of real people in real situations produce a greater emotional response than those including words or text. However, knowing your audience and understanding their unique needs and habits is crucial to understanding what images should be shared in posts, post ads and sponsored stories. Analyzing past post performance and understanding what images and messaging resonate best with fans should be every brand’s main source of inspiration for future image creation and distribution.

Facebook is said to be releasing a tool in the coming weeks to help brands quickly determine whether or not images adhere to the new rule.

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