Sponsored Stories – “Brilliant!”
I’m a happy critic of webinars. I host them for clients, so I’m forever ready to crib from webinars hosted by others. Replicate the good, avoid the bad, stop saying “um” so much.
Facebook is midway through a Marketing Bootcamp webinar series, and Wednesday’s installment regarding Sponsored Stories is my favorite to date. Guilty pleasure confession – it’s also the first in this series to be staffed by Brits. When the chap on the right, Ollie, said, “Brilliant, Eowen – now when placing an advert…” Ollie had me at “Brilliant,” although Eowen and advert didn’t hurt.
Sorting out the content
Setting aside the Anglophile concept that British webinars are – de facto – more fun than Yankee webinars:
What are “sponsored stories?”
Robin’s definition: Sponsored stories = paying for fans’ comments and actions to be picked up from wall posts and run over in the right hand column of friends’ Facebook pages, in place of a common or garden variety advertisement.
Facebook’s definition: (paraphrase) Sponsored stories are word of mouth marketing amplified to an unprecedented scale in the social context of trusted friends.
Sponsored stories are created when a user engages with your brand — if friends don’t see it in the user’s newsfeed, they’ll see it on the right hand side of the page.
Example: Let’s say your friend Eric “likes” Richie’s Bike & Kayak Shoppe. If Richie’s Bike & Kayak Shoppe is sponsoring stories, something very much like an advert appears on your page and says “Eric likes Richie’s Bike & Kayak Shoppe.”
Since sponsored stories only run on friend’s pages, the whole world won’t see Eric’s love for R’s B&K Shoppe…only Eric’s friends will see it. Thereby the brilliant use of social context. Your friend likes R’s B&K Shoppe; don’t you want to like it too?
Why are sponsored stories valuable?
Facebook’s statistics on why the social context of a sponsored story matters to business owners and marketers:
People who see a sponsored story ad in the social context of a friend’s actions exhibit:
- A 1.6 lift in brand recall
- Double the increase in message awareness
- A 4x (quadruple!) lift in purchase intent
Therefore, brands who use sponsored stories experience a “direct and measurable performance lift.”
Facebook Ads v. Sponsored Stories
What’s the difference? Facebook Ads are for the general public; sponsored stories show up on friends’ pages only.
Six Sorts of Sponsored Stories
Continuing to trade on Eric’s likes and actions, here are the six kinds of stories that can be sponsored:
- Page Likes – Eric likes British Airways, and his “Like” generates a little story on the right hand side of your Facebook screen
- Page Post Likes – A similar story is generated when Eric comments on a page
- Check-in story – Eric checked in at Four Barrel Coffee for a single-varietal cupping, and a note about that appears on your page, leading you to dash out, catch the tube, mind the gap, and join Eric at Four Barrel.
- App Used – Eric played the Glory of Rome
- App Share – Eric recommends the Game of Life
- Domain – Eric thinks Red Cross is a great cause
Intrigued enough to consider sponsoring your brand’s stories? Facebook recommends:
- Run Sponsored Stories with Facebook Ads for best effect
- Choose the best story type for your goals
- Claim your physical “place” to enable check-in functionality
- Post regularly on your Facebook page to generate opportunities for Sponsored Stories
- For “Domain” sponsored stories, Add the “Like” and “Send” buttons to your website
- Track your performance in Ads Manager, then reallocate budget to best performing ads
Q & A
As befits a webinar hosted in the UK, a reasonable percentage of the questions during the online Q & A portion came from Angles, Saxons and Jutes. The following excerpted questions and answers from my notes may be of use.
Helen in Denver: If Sponsored Stories are charged / paid by CPC or CPM? (CPC = Cost per click and CPM = Cost per Thousand Impressions)
Answer: However you pay for Facebook Ads. So if you’re set up for CPC with Ads, use that for Sponsored Stories.
Janet from [garbled] Can I control which stories appear?
Answer: You can control the type of story, for example “Likes” or “Check-ins,” but you cannot pick and choose which of the “Likes” as the actual content is driven by users and their actions.
James in Glasgow – Can we run multiple Sponsored Stories campaigns at one time?
Answer: Yes, for example, page “Likes” alongside Apps, etc.
Eomer in London – How do Sponsored Stories work with privacy settings?
Answer: Compatible – if the content is eligible to be in a news feed, it is eligible to be a sponsored story.
Cara from NY – Do you have to use Sponsored Stories in conjunction with regular Ads?
Answer: No, but we recommend using adverts in conjunction with SS. Adverts build the proper fan base for SS to be most effective.
Brooke in Michigan – What is the best time of day to post updates to my page?
Answer: Every page is different. Test your volume and time. Once a day? Three times a week? Each biz is different so test.