Ernan’s Insights on Marketing Best Practices

Monday, August 13, 2012

3 Best Practices for Facebook Sponsored Stories

The Challenge: Marketers are eager to take advantage of Facebook's huge customer base and powerful targeting options, but Facebook's most powerful tool remains relatively unknown.

Crowd Sourcing

Few advertising channels heed the Voice of the Customer (VoC) more directly than Facebook Sponsored Stories. Users determine what they say, when they appear, and who they appear to. While some advertisers might see this lack of control as a disadvantage, savvy marketers recognize it as a guarantee of authenticity.

Unlike traditional ad units, Sponsored Stories are not directly created by brands. Instead, brands must create meaningful and engaging content on their Facebook Pages. When users interact with that content – whether by Liking it, playing a game, or posting a comment – that engagement appears on their Timelines.

Standard Facebook Ads display generic brand messages and offers, like "Go to Starbucks for 20% Off!" As we reported last month, these were often ineffective and driving high levels of engagement, because there was a mismatch between the purpose of the platform and the purpose of the ad unit. Google users may be looking for ways to purchase goods and services, but Facebook users want to check in on their friends. Sponsored Stories addresses this problem: ads provide relevant, social news - "Tom just checked in at Starbucks" - rather than trying to make a sale. The result: effective, scalable social endorsement campaigns.


» Fill Your Facebook Pages with "Engaging" Content
Sponsored Stories can only be generated when users directly engage with content on your site, whether by Liking it, commenting on it, taking a poll, playing a game, etc. If you don't keep your pages up to date, your fans won't have any opportunities to engage—and you won't have the opportunity to drive social endorsements with Sponsored Stories.

» Provide Opportunities to Share rather than Opportunities to Sell
The key to Facebook's popularity is sharing: users of the site can share their own status and check up on others. They're not there to buy and sell. To keep your social endorsements coming, build content that users will be eager to share – like fun games or interesting content – rather than more commercial content like discount coupons.

» Give Fans Reasons to Keep Clicking
As with every other marketing channel, digital or offline, no customer is better than a repeat customer. Give your fans a reason to keep coming back by posting fresh, relevant content to your Facebook Page on a daily basis.