February 14, 2022

How Facebook Changed Advertising in 2021 and How It Affects Marketers

Bob Dylan’s 1964 song said, “The Times They Are a-Changin.” As business owners and digital marketers, we have become well-accustomed to change. Our resiliency allows us to pivot our marketing strategies when platforms like Facebook change their advertising policies or algorithms. Since Facebook continues to be the leading platform based on the number of users, marketers must continue to look to the social media goliath as a primary piece of their social media marketing strategy.

We’re taking a look back over the last year to highlight the most prominent policy changes Facebook made that impacted business owners and marketers and what they mean for us moving forward.

The Most Noteworthy Facebook Policy Changes

Ad Campaigns

Recent online advertising policy changes have made optimizing, measuring, and targeting more challenging when creating Facebook and Instagram Ad campaigns. In early 2021, Apple changed its policy on tracking transparency when it released iOS 14.5 updates. Following these changes, apps like Facebook are now required to request a device owner’s consent to collect and share their data with third parties.

Collected data is valuable to marketers and advertisers because we use it for targeting purposes. In response to the iOS update, Facebook has encouraged users to allow data collection and sharing by reminding them that their participation allows their platforms to be free of charge. However, these new policies have negatively impacted reporting accuracy and have increased advertising costs for marketers.

When it comes to audience targeting, marketers can no longer advertise to teens based on their interests. However, teens can still be targeted according to their location, gender, and age. Facebook does provide recommendations for advertisers so they can optimize ads and get the most out of their efforts. Some of the benefits of recent changes include the ability to integrate CRM data for more targeted reach and the ability to send ads to bottom-of-the-funnel leads.

Meta Business Suite

Business Suite, now referred to as “Meta Business Suite,” was released in 2020 and is helpful for marketers because it allows us to manage our content cross-platform. Having a one-stop-shop makes our marketing efforts much easier. If you’re familiar with Business Manager, Meta Business Suite was intended to replace it.

According to Facebook, some of the more recent changes to Meta Business Suite include adding mobile and desktop versions and improvements designed to provide a better overall user experience. Facebook made changes like consolidating Facebook and Instagram inboxes, creating new home, activity, and insights views, and giving advertisers the ability to create new ads without navigating to Ads Manager.

The image shows a screen shot of a widget on the Meta Business Suite home page. The widget displays Facebook and Instagram analytics.
Example of a widget that’s displayed on the Meta Business Suite homepage. Marketers can look at Facebook and Instagram analytics on the same page.

One of the biggest changes was made to the home screen. Users can now see a lot more information without digging for it. For now, users can still switch back to Business Manager if they prefer. Keep in mind we may not have that ability forever. In short, not all changes are bad. Many of the updates to Meta Business Suite were designed to provide a better overall user experience for marketers.


Originally starting in the summer of 2020, Facebook began to emphasize hashtag usage more than it did in the past — a trend that continued during 2021. Facebook encourages hashtags in all posts and insists they foster more organic reach. Facebook allows users to see what hashtags are most popular.

Therefore, much like doing keyword research to optimize content for search engines, marketers can conduct “hashtag” research by either typing hashtags in their posts where they will be given recommended hashtags in a drop-down or Facebook’s search bar. There’s no limit to the number of hashtags users can put in their posts, but 2-3 is usually best practice. Marketers can always experiment with the number of hashtags to see what performs best in terms of organic reach.

In short, it appears like Facebook will continue to create more hashtag-friendly features and encourage liberal usage of them moving forward. Although hashtags are still subject to users’ privacy settings, it gives marketers another avenue to reach their intended audience more organically.


Facebook has continued to change what images can be used in ads. When creating ads with images, it’s important to keep several considerations in mind. These include attributes like the following.

Many marketers are familiar with Facebook’s “20% rule” about how much text is allowed in an image. In 2021, to the joy of countless marketers, there were indications that Facebook officially dropped this rule. However, even with Facebook’s new guidelines, an ad that contains more than 20% of text may not be rejected, but its reach will likely be limited. They also give guidelines and recommendations for ad sizes and formats.

Lastly, Facebook has continued to bolster its rules regarding image depictions. Obviously, Facebook will reject pictures in ads that contain anything graphic or offensive. However, more surprisingly, close-ups of faces specifically featuring teeth may get rejected. As marketers, we have to keep quirkiness in mind regarding ad approval and rejection. The former depiction is obvious, whereas the latter is less intuitive.

Why Should Marketers Know Facebook’s Changes?

Although there are always new challenges for marketers as Facebook policies and guidelines evolve, it’s clear that Facebook is still the premier social media platform for marketers to reach their audiences. In other words, “the juice” is still worth the squeeze here in 2022. The goal as marketers isn’t just to get our ads approved but to maximize our efforts by adhering to Facebook guidelines. In such a saturated landscape, it’s integral to stay abreast of the latest changes and updates.

Partnering with a marketing agency like PHOS is one way for your business to stand out in the crowd. Our team of marketing experts is ready to help you attain your business goals and keep your marketing edge in an increasingly competitive and ever-changing digital space.

Zach Heern

Zach has years of sales and marketing experience working both in the trenches and as a CMO–managing marketing teams of 4-6 representatives for multi-million dollar companies across multiple industries. He’s especially passionate about helping small and medium sized businesses. Zach enjoys using his experience to help clients maximize ROI by utilizing the most effective channels to reach current and potential clients. Moreover, he treasures building genuine, lasting relationships with his clients and seeing them achieve their marketing goals.

Outside of PHOS, you can find Zach exploring the many springs and beaches around Florida with his wife and 2 children. He also enjoys trading and talking cryptocurrency, good coffee, progressive bluegrass, reading books by old Puritans, and all things keto.