So many brands rely on sponsored creator content to maximize their digital marketing campaigns and social media presence. Branded content from a creator who is in tune with their audience and holds influence with them is so powerful in driving not just brand awareness but sales, too. 

But there are regulations on social media platforms like Instagram that control what brands can and cannot share. Similarly, creators are limited by platforms’ terms of services. This mainly revolves around explicit content that may be sensitive to viewers, which Instagram tries to limit. But social networks also restrict content for certain industries. This means that brands and the creators they partner with are forced to get creative. 

Diving into restricted content

When we’re talking about restricted brands, we’re considering industries like cannabis, tobacco or alcohol brands that have an age threshold in order for products to be purchased. Brands can set age thresholds through Instagram’s Branded Content tool, allowing them to only reach consumers who are legally able to purchase their products (depending on the country and local laws). 

As such, when restricted brands promote their content and hire creators to promote their products through their social media channels, there are rules the content needs to follow. 

Let’s take alcohol brands as an example. According to FTC regulations, there are three governing bodies that have advertising and marketing codes that alcohol brands have to adhere to. They’re self-regulating and most brands understand that their content needs to be handled with extra care. It’s important to note that all social media platforms have their own rules and regulations for restricted content; they also hold the final say in what is and is not allowed. 

Other restricted industries, like cannabis brands, have similar codes – but they’re more cumbersome to navigate due to inconsistent legalization in the US, and they also change regularly. That’s why cannabis brands often partner with an expert to help them navigate these unpredictable waters.

Setting creators up for success

When activating influencers, there are more standards that brands have to follow – namely sourcing creators who are over 21. Many brands have decided to pursue influencers 25 or older to avoid partnering with someone who appears younger than 21 and may draw ire from critics. This age limit must be present in any activation emails or campaign applications. 

In addition to influencer activation rules, brands also need to be vigilant about the content itself – which is why implementing a draft and review period, which is streamlined through platforms like Mavrck, is so critical. 

Restricted brands are encouraged to implement hashtags like #21plus, #21andolder, #EnjoyResponsibly or even #DrinkResponsibly into their campaigns along with the FTC-mandated #sponsored or #ad tags. While not a requirement by any governing body, we recommend that brands get into the habit of these kinds of hashtags to avoid censorship. Including similar language within the copy itself is also a great way to enforce this message.

A picture is worth 1,000 words

The content itself also has to be curated with care. For alcohol brands, creators should always make sure that they’re displaying the product according to the correct serving size, avoid any allusions to overconsumption or showcase themselves doing anything that would be dangerous and illegal while under the influence – like driving. And of course, content cannot feature children or anyone under or who appear under 21.

Mind the rules

Keeping in line with social media regulations is important for both brands and creators –  brand and creator violations on Instagram could range from content removal, a temporary ban or even a permanent ban

But every social media platform is different – and knowing which is more friendly for restricted brands will help you adjust your strategy. Here’s what we know about how other platforms work with alcohol brands: 


Instagram’s content rules also apply to Facebook content. Content featuring restricted brands, particularly alcohol brands, must follow industry regulations. Branded content needs to be age-gated to 21 years or older in the U.S; some countries may completely prohibit your branded content or have different age requirements.


Given the younger audience on TikTok, the social network currently prohibits the promotion of a number of industries, including alcohol. You can find more information on TikTok’s prohibited industries and products here.


Twitter’s policy on alcohol content says that it cannot target underage people or feature individuals who appeal to a younger audience (or who are minors themselves) and cannot feature pregnant women. 


Twitch Advertising Guidelines & Acceptance Policies state that ads from alcohol brands are accepted, but that there are certain safeguards in place. This includes specific targeting requirements to limit exposure to certain viewers. 

Pinterest, Snapchat and YouTube

These platforms’ advertising guidelines allow advertising of alcoholic beverages, but also include restrictions, stating that the advertiser must adhere to federal and local laws and age-gate content when required.

Key points

      • Restricted brands aren’t outlawed from posting on Instagram – but there are content rules they need to play by
      • Violating content regulations on Instagram could lead to brands and creators being banned or severely limited in the content their audience can view
      • Make sure your creators are aware of your brand’s regulatory requirements
      • Build in extra time in your review process to personally review your branded content and for Instagram to review as well
      • For more on how Mavrck can help you navigated restricted content, contact us for a demo.