Facebook Advertising – Meet Sponsored Stories

There’s no doubt about it, Facebook is all (ok, maybe not all…) the rave these days. As the number of members surpasses 500 MILLION, businesses and advertisers alike are realizing Facebook can not be ignored any longer.

Of course, that doesn’t mean any business can set up a Facebook page and see overnight success, nor does it mean anyone can put up some ads and expect to be millionaires by tomorrow morning. Matter of fact, setting up a page or using Facebook PPC, if not properly thought thru, can waste a lot of time and money.

But this post isn’t about setting up FB pages nor is it about the 1-2-3 step process of Facebook PPC (to get the latter, check out our most recent webinar on the topic.) Instead we want to share some early results from Facebook’s most recent “advert type” – Facebook Sponsored Stories. (First though, can anyone please tell me why they chose the word “advert”?!?! Is that some hip social jargon…)

For those who have already embarked on the chore of using Facebook’s PPC/Display ad platform (it’s a far cry from the simplicity of AdWords or even AdCenter) you know there is basically one type of ad: it’s an image ad w/ some text, that points to either your Facebook page or an external URL.

The real power of Facebook advertising is in the targeting. But again, this post isn’t about setting up ads or the process of how you can target 34-year old graduates from Penn State who now work for Adobe, read Harry Potter books, like fly-fishing & skiing, listen to Dave Mathews Band & Widespread Panic…(it can go on and on and on)

…this is about Sponsored Stories. So, what is it?

Get more distribution for the News Feed stories published about your Page, Place or App. Always includes either a story about the viewer’s friends or a story about your Facebook Page posts.

Sponsored Story

According to Facebook Product Marketing Lead Jim Squires, these sponsored stories are “a way for marketers to sponsor activities that happen throughout the News Feed”.

There are two “story types” that can be promoted: Like story & Page post story.

  • Like story: This method “promotes News Feed stories about the viewer’s friends” who like your page
  • Page post story: this “promotes News Feed stories about your Facebook Page updates.”

The question is, how do these differ from what we already see on our walls every time we log in to Facebook? They don’t really. The difference is, instead of stories being pushed further and further down the wall until they disappear, which as we know can happen VERY quickly given all the updates, certain stories will appear as “sponsored stories” on the right, therefore getting more impressions (and hopefully generating more fans.)

We’ve been testing the “Like story” method for a client recently and the results have been just OK compared to other FB ads we’ve run. Conversion rate – calculated as the # of likes/clicks – is over 10% over the past few days. Unfortunately you, the advertiser, have no say over what stories are sponsored…Facebook decides this for you.

Looking on the bright side though, CPC has been much lower – more than half in many cases – compared to the more “traditional” FB banner ad.

We’re excited to see Facebook offering businesses new ways to advertise products, services, and FB pages, but we’re not entirely sure “sponsored stories” is going to be a game-changer.


Ian Mackie About the author
  • I have to say I’m noticing and more aware of the sponsored story ads that I’ve seen rather than the reg banner ads. Seeing my friends names definitely catches my eye. Interesting that you’ve found conv rates to be higher so far.

    February 18, 2011 at 8:59 am

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