Guidelines for social media advertising

Facebook and Instagram

With Facebook has the most accommodating advertising policy of all the social media networks. This is down to its large and unique audience. If you promote a legal product or service in an honest and appropriate manner with a link to a relevant landing page, you shouldn’t run into any issues. It’s also important to note that for the time being, Instagram has adopted Facebook’s guidelines for its own network. This makes life easier for those looking to advertise on both platforms.

Where the majority of advertisers fail to meet the rules is the proportion of text to visual content in the ad. One most important rule to help you here is that text cannot cover more than 20% of an image to prevent an ad from being visually unappealing. Luckily, they’ve provided this useful tool so you can test your image before submitting it for review. The 20% rule does not include the text featured on the product being advertised (like a book or video game cover), but it does include logos, slogans, watermarks, etc.

Another common reason for rejection of adverts improper mention of Facebook or Instagram in the ad. You cannot use their logos or create one yourself, as that is copyrighted material.  Finally, a third reason why an ad is rejected is due to content that is not appropriate to the selected target audience. For example, an alcoholic beverage ad targeting users under prohibited age.You simply need to adjust your target audience when setting up your ad to avoid this conflict.

Here are the specific guidelines to what is prohibited or restricted by Facebook and Instagram:

Prohibited Content

  • Illegal products or services
  • Illegal, prescription, or recreational drugs
  • Tobacco products
  • Weapons or explosives
  • Sexually provocative, vulgar, violent, or discriminatory content
  • Copyrighted or trademarked content used without the owner’s permission
  • Deceptive promotions and offers
  • Images with unrealistic “before-and-after” results
  • Payday loans or advances
  • Auto-play videos and images

Restricted Content

  • Alcohol ads can only be targeted to individuals of a legal drinking age in countries that permit it (consult Facebook’s policy for a complete list)
  • Dating services, online gambling, state lotteries, and online pharmacies require prior written permission from Facebook or Instagram
  • You cannot ask for any financial, insurance, health, political, or government-related identifiers without permission.


Twitter’s advertising policy is similar to Facebook in terms of what is prohibited or restricted, but gives you freedom to determine the right proportion of text to visuals in your Promoted Tweets. They are also on the same page when it comes to protecting users from unrealistic or dishonest promotions, as well as observing any copyrights or trademarks. However, Twitter has the added responsibility of monitoring the hashtags that advertisers use in their tweets. This is important to both tweeter users and the advertiser.

It’s tempting to want to jump on the most popular or current hashtag trends to get added visibility, but it will cause more harm than good almost every time. Twitter will most likely refuse your request to promote that particular tweet; and even if it does get approved, most users will probably dismiss it due to its irrelevance. So save yourself the trouble and seek out only those hashtags that promote your product or service to the right audience. To discover the best-performing hashtags in your industry, check out a site like Hashtagify.

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Prohibited Content

  • Adult products and services
  • Illegal drugs and accessories
  • Endangered species products (e.g. elephant tusks)
  • Violent or hateful content
  • Spyware or hacking materials
  • Tobacco products
  • Unauthorized ticket sales for sporting events, concerts, etc.
  • Weapons
  • Any products or services impacted by U.S. trade sanctions

Restricted Content

  • Anything that can’t be legally purchased by minors (e.g. alcohol, tobacco, fireworks, tattoos, etc.)
  • Any financial service providers must explicitly state the potential risks of an investment and that there are no profit guarantees
  • Gambling and lottery services are prohibited in some countries, so consult Twitter’s policy for a complete list
  • Over-the-counter pharmaceuticals like Tylenol are prohibited in some countries
  • Any ads promoting a political campaign are indicated by a purple arrow on Twitter, and are prohibited entirely in Brazil, Morocco, Pakistan, and South Korea