In the wake of its $100 billion IPO filing, Facebook is busy bolstering its advertising options. For one, Facebook is hanging its future hopes on “sponsored stories.”
Sponsored stories depart from the typical Facebook ad unit. By incorporating social endorsement prominently into ads, Facebook sponsored stories are more relevant to the average user, and more likely to be clicked on than traditional Facebook ads. When done right, sponsored stories provide a significant boost to click-through and conversion rates, in part because these ad placements appear not only on the sidebar, but also within users’ News Feeds.
However, advertisers shouldn’t consider sponsored stories a one-size-fits-all solution. There are actually several different styles, each with its own unique value proposition. Below are four sponsored story options to consider.
1. Domain StoryIf your goal is to drive traffic from Facebook to your site, “domain sponsored stories” are the right place to start. Domain stories require a bit of effort to set up, but depending on your Facebook strategy, can offer significant value. Because they allow you to direct users from Facebook to your website, the ads are great tools for performance marketers or ecommerce companies looking to acquire leads from the social network.
How domain sponsored stories work: A visitor comes to your site while logged into Facebook and Likes your site. This action generates a story into News Feed, such as “Jane likes X site.” Sponsoring such stories increases the visibility for these kinds of posts, either in the News Feed or on the sidebar.
Odds are Jane’s friends belong to the same target market as Jane, and ideally find Jane credible. Consequently, domain stories offer advertisers a great way to generate new leads and revenues through word-of-mouth marketing.
2. Page Like Story“Page Like stories” are very similar to domain stories, with one major difference. Rather than promoting that Jane Likes your website, page Like stories promote when Jane Likes your Facebook page. When users see and click on these posts, they are directed to your Facebook page.
Page Like stories are particularly useful for brand advertisers seeking to grow the popularity of their Facebook pages – my friend Jane Likes X page, so I might like it, too. More importantly, because the ad unit is well integrated into the News Feed, your brand’s image occupies a valuable space in the social activity.
3. Page Post StoryFacebook Likes are great. Positive comments on your Facebook page are even better. That’s where “page post sponsored stories” come in.
Say Jane visits your Facebook page and leaves a glowing review of your product or service. Page post stories allow you to turn this endorsement into an ad.
With page post stories, marketers can take their most favorable feedback from genuine customers and broadcast it. As a result, page post stories can be useful to build your brand or generate leads, depending on the comment and campaign. And not to worry — advertisers select which comments become page post stories, so there’s no risk of accidentally promoting a negative comment.
4. Check-In StoryFacebook mobile adds a new layer to the social context with “check-in stories.” Users can check-in when physically at a store location; this action posts to Facebook.
Then, advertisers can choose to highlight this brand interaction. For example, sponsoring an ad unit when Jane checks-in at your store ensures that Jane’s friends see the action. Realizing that Jane is out shopping, they may decide to join her or make later trips of their own to your store.
Promoting check-ins creates yet another engagement opportunity for retail marketers, especially those with strong local presences. Measuring the value of a check-in story is difficult, however, as any purchases are likely to occur offline.
Sponsored stories allow advertisers to participate in and influence the social context of Facebook. Advertisers that leverage sponsored stories typically see a boost in click-through and conversion rates. What types of results have you had with sponsored stories?