For those unaware, whose day jobs don’t require the production of vast amounts of high-performing, creative social content, Facebook changes its design and policies ALL THE TIME. Agile marketers have to keep up with the shifting tides. One of the latest is a rule about text overlays on images. Facebook says:
“Images in your ads, sponsored stories and cover photo for your Page can include text that meets our general Advertising Guidelines. Images may not include more than 20% text.
Examples of promoted content this applies to include:
For example, event ads use the event’s photo for its image, so your event’s photo should not have more than 20% text if you plan to promote it in people’s News Feeds.”
We’ve found adding text overlays really does pump up posts, making them quickly-consumable, sharable nuggets. Add a paid promotion to that and you get a huge boost to overall impressions and PTAT score (people talking about this). But now, you can only pump up your carefully-crafted posts if they comply with this 20% rule. To catch any schemers trying to slip text-filled images by the social media Gods, Facebook runs promoted posts through a little grid test. Text that takes up to 5 squares passes, cross into 6 and you’ve got a no-go.
So how do you test posts? To make sure text only takes up 20% we created a PNG of their same grid overlay to slap onto images in Photoshop, then we toy with the text and any logos or watermarks (they count too, remember) and ultimately decide how an image will look its best. If it fits, it ships, to quote that wonderful shipping tagline.
We have made this nifty tool available for you. Download the PNG.
Because this 5 boxes good, 6 boxes bad system does not exactly really mean 20%, it can mess with design in irritating ways. Text done in the same font size and style can be moved slightly (maybe to a more attractive position) and suddenly become out-of-line with Facebook’s 20% rule.
If an image uploaded to Facebook is square, it’ll the whole image will be smooshed down to fit in a 403 x 403 pixel block in Timeline view. But if it is not square, FB crops it to 403 x 403 pixels, lopping off the sides (landscape images) or top and/or bottom (portrait images). That means, you could potentially upload a portrait or large image (FB’s max photo size is 2048x2048 pixels) add a bunch of text in the center of the image (maybe even taking up 403 x 403 pixels!) and create an image that would crop to look as if it was all text. Of course, it would still have to look stylish in all viewing formats (note: most people will see your posts in their news feed, mobile is huge and only first time viewers and hardcore fans will check in on your timeline - sandboxing is key!) but we think there is some room for experimentation here.
There is another proviso to the rule, in that “The 20% text policy doesn’t apply to pictures of products that include text on the actual product.” That means you can showcase a retail bottle of shampoo, not that you can artificially edit the product with your tagline, smart guy. But then again, what if your product is an image created by text? Those possibilities are cool, and Facebook has yet to slam the gavel down on that one. Anyway, these things are ever changing. The only thing we are sure of it that Facebook will throw out even more stipulations and make content creators like us scramble, and then innovate.