Back in the depths of winter Facebook announced that it was going to launch Facebook Sponsored Stories. This sparked a lot of noise around intrusion of privacy, turning users/friends in to spammers and a number of other hysterical responses. After the dust settled, the marketeers took to the web and initial views were quite positive, with many saying it was the natural evolution of Facebook Ads. A recent review by industry mag NMA claim that Sponsored Stries are 46% more effctive than standard Facebook ads
Just in case you aren’t sure quite what Facebook Sponsored Stories are then here is my brief summary. Sponsored stories are linked to friends timelines and they show a brand when that brand is mentioned by your friend on your news feed. For example, if Starbucks were utilising sponsored stories and your friend mentioned Starbucks in their activity the ad (sponsored story) would appear. The rule states that brands cannot control the story they can only associate with actions. Here is an example unashamedly stolen from Mashable. This news feed example is just that, advertisers can choose what actiosn they want to associate, e.g. specific actions in an app
How a story would look, followed by an example of a sponsored story
As this demonstrates the sponsor (in this case) Starbucks doesn’t really interfere with the original message, which has meant user feedback to Facebook hasn’t been as negative as first feared. The other positive behind Facebook Stories compared to Twitter‘s sponsored Tweets is that Stories is user-generated providing a lower feeling of intrusion, whereas Twitter’s version is Advertiser generated and in theory could and often has no relevance to the user.
The key point behind sponsored stories if you are considering them for your brand or clients is that they cannot link out of Facebook. Consequently this isn’t a direct traffic driver to a latest offer you may have on your site. However it can increase fans and engagement with your brand on Facebook.
The other benefit to page owners, is that not all your fans have the same privacy settings. Just because somebody ‘Likes’ your page it doesn’t mean they will see all of your content. Using the Starbucks example above if the user had put on their settings they didn’t want to see your photos, sponsored stories can associate those photos with that user, which means they will see them.
Perhaps the biggest issue users may have as more advertisers jump on Sponsored Stories is the fact that they can’t opt out and prevent their image being used. The ony option is to click the X button and remvoe the story.
To clarify there are seven types of sponsored stories, we have detailed the type of Sponsored story – Story Content – Who sees the story:
1. Page Like – Somebody Likes Your Page – Friends of Your Fans
2. Page Post – Published a post from your page to your fans – Your Fans
3. Page Post Like – One of your fans liked your post in last 7 days – Friends of the Fan who liked your post
4. App Used and Game Played – Somebody used your app or played your game twice in last month – User friends
5. App Shared – Somebody shared a story from your app in last 7 days – The sharers friends
6. Check-in – Somebody checked in and claimed a deal in last 7 days in your Facebook Places – The claimers friends
7. Domain – Somebody liked, shared or pasted a link to content on your site in past 7 days – The sharer’s friends
Based on the current reaction and the reported increase in effectiveness I would definitely consider using this as a tool. Potentially at present to increase the Facebook following of a brand, however I’m sure as thigns evolve more options will present themselves. This is obviously a personal view but it seems to be one that supports Facebook’s desire of not wanting to be seen purely as a DR advertising platform. Their goal is to get their hands on some of that lucrative brand marketing cash that is still pretty much firmly locked in to established agencies and TV advertising. Who knows this may help to break some of that stranglehold.