Facebook Advertising: New Option with Sponsored Stories

3/17/2011

- Danielle Leitch, EVP, Client Strategy

For sometime now, Facebook has offered advertisers a way to reach their audience through a paid advertising platform, very similar to mainstream Cost Per Click ads on the major Engines. There are a variety of options to target your ad campaigns to a tailored audience, based on who you want to reach demographically or behaviorally. You can drive visitors to either your website or Facebook page/application.

Recently, Facebook introduced "Sponsored Stories". This paid marketing effort allows a company to amplify what people are saying about your business in the News Feed and promote these stories on the right-hand column on Facebook. They are different from ads, especially given the limited audience, but can help to increase reach and interaction from this community.  Consider it a promoted "Word-of-Mouth-Marketing" tactic.

There are several options to leverage Sponsored Stories. Here are two:

"Page Posts" - this is a way of showcasing your wall post content to your followers, as it gets highlighted off to the right of the page. This sponsored story automatically populates with the most recent wall posting on your Page. There is currently not a way to keep the ad static to one specific piece of content (post), although I could see value in that option, especially if you post frequently and not all posts hold the same importance or value for your business. As Facebook users have so many pieces of information continuously appearing in their news stream all day long, this option offers a way for your content to stand out and be seen by fans of the page.

"Page Likes" - this is ideal for acquisition of new fans/likes for your page. It allows your page name and icon (usually company logo) to be featured off to the right and indicates support from one of the viewer’s "friends".  This subtle hint of an endorsement (or page of interest), could really help your own brand’s growth and reach.  Keep in mind the audience for this is "friends" of those within the Sponsored Story.

What’s the value of a new "Like" on Facebook for your business?  This is probably the most challenging question surrounding these new promotional opportunities.  The primary action tied to this campaign is increasing Page Fans.  There is not an immediate connection to your website or point of conversion.  Therefore the actual ROI on this effort needs to be monitored closely, and a value for each page fan/like should be established before too much of your marketing budget is spent here.

Facebook is a very viable advertising option to consider.  We strongly recommend your company have an established presence on Facebook first, prior to engaging in any network advertising campaign.  There should be a multi-prong approach for working this channel - advertising and community engagement. If you have an identifiable target audience, this network makes it easy to reach them. Pricing is overall comparable to Google AdWords for clicks, and in a few campaigns we have even seen better results leveraging Facebook (but on a smaller scale) for certain products or audiences. If you haven't tried Facebook ads yet, put some marketing dollars into a test. Set realistic expectations for your results and monitor closely.  Consider layering in these new features with Sponsored Stories campaigns for additional reach and visibility on the network.  Finally, share your Facebook results with me!

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