“Businesses can pay to feature a post so there’s a better chance you’ll notice it.” -Facebook
Facebook Ads Enter Your Feed
Sponsored Stories have been a form of paid advertising for a while now, you can see them in the right column of the Facebook interface. They are stories that might normally appear in your News Feed (when a friend likes a Page, recommends something, etc) but they also might NOT.
Facebook has admitted that many stories get lost in the News Feed: “…a lot of impressions do get lost because there’s so much content coming through…” (via official Sponsored Stories page). The benefit of Sponsored Stories is that paying advertisers are able to harness the social nature of these stories, since Facebook users are more likely to pay attention to ads if they feature familiar faces and trusted names.
The only drawback is the location – in the right column of the Facebook interface. This is a space that most FB users know is for advertising. So we might ignore it automatically. But with the newly introduced Featured Stories, Facebook puts these paid ads directly into the News Feed.
But are they really “Ads”?
Here is an example of a new Featured Story via Ben and Jerry’s. In this case, the brand Page has published a normal Wall post but paid money to guarantee that it will appear in the feeds of their Fans:
This story would not appear in your News Feed unless you had already Liked the Page. It feels different than normal advertising – which is often an unexpected and unwelcome bombardment. It’s more like enhanced Page-Fan interaction, since when you Like a Page you are essentially signing up to get updates from that Page.
“It is important to note that no story that would not have been eligible to show up in users’ feeds organically will become a Sponsored Story. Marketers can only pay for page posts to be featured in a user’s feed if the user has already liked the page.”- Inside Facebook, Jan 10, 2012
A Step-By-Step Explaination (Wait, how does it work?)
In Facebook’s Help section for this new feature they describe the process in which you might see one of these stories in your News Feed:
A quick example of how it works
- Say you like your gym’s Facebook Page.
- Some friends see the story in their news feeds, others may miss it.
- The owner of the gym can pay to feature the story so your friends are more likely to see it.
Who can see featured stories
You decide who can see what you share on Facebook. When a story is featured, it’s shown to the same people you originally shared it with.
Featured stories you may see
- When a Page you like posts something new
- When a friend likes something (such as a Facebook Page or individual Page post)
- When a friend checks in somewhere, plays a game or uses an app
Time to start complaining…
I am sure that there will be a lot of backlash over this new development. We have already heard from Fans on our Facebook Page Wall that this sort of brand promotion feels spammy. Users prefer to see stories from Pages that have gained traction organically and based on the quality of their content. Sites like Twitter already use this form of advertising (Promoted Tweets) but Facebook users seem much more protective of the purity of their content streams.
What do YOU think? As a Page Admin, do you feel that this might be a worthwhile investment of your money?