As you all know, Facebook continues to mix things up on the site and change the goal posts for users and brands alike. At Thinktank Social we’ve seen a lot of confusion from the general public about the different types of Facebook adverts that appear within News Feeds or on the desktop sidebar. It’s time to clear the air and break down what terms like Sponsored Stories, Suggested Post Ads and Promoted Posts actually mean, and how they are appearing on your Facebook screen.
Firstly, I think it’s important to note that Facebook is still a free service for users. This has been enabled by Facebook seeking financial gain from the brands or companies who want to utilise the quality data captured from users, and using it to target their advertising to a more receptive audience who previously expressed an interest in their product or industry through their personal bio, likes or status updates. In other words, users get a free service, at the cost of viewing advertisements from companies.
Sponsored Stories are built around user activity. Advertisers can highlight an action that users have already taken on the social network or within a Facebook app. That action will be shown to a user’s friends, either in the News Feed or in the sidebar. For example, it will highlight that a friend “Joe Blogs likes <insert company name>”. Sponsored Stories will only ever reach an audience that is connected to the page or app through a friend.
The type of text within each of the Sponsored Story posts is auto-generated through Facebook, based on whatever action a user/friend has taken. For example, certain games may have an ad that says “Joe Blogs has just played <insert game name>”.
The goal of Sponsored Stories is to get more users to take the same action a friend has – like a recommendation from a mate. This can be shown through brands setting up Sponsored Stories to aim for Page Likes, to increase Offers claimed, or to gain more entries in a competition by showing people that their friends have already taken one of those actions with this brand.
Suggested Post Ads
This type of advertisement is when a Page pays for the content on their page to be distributed further (either within News Feeds or on the sidebar). So the format of this ad will depend entirely on the most recent content that has been uploaded to the brand’s Page. It could be a link, photo, video, offer, event, competition app, question or status update.
Unlike Sponsored Stories and Promoted Posts, these ads can be shown to anyone on Facebook, even if the users are not connected to the page themselves or through a friend. These types of posts are great for engagement on a Page, but they may not be as effective in gaining new Page Likes. The reason for this is that users often take action immediately on the post, and do not delve further into looking at the originating Facebook Page.
Suggested Posts can also involve a level of targeting in the set-up of the advertisement. Page owners can indicate a number of criteria that they feel will be the correct target market of people that would be interested in the type of content they display on their page.
These are page posts that get additional paid reach in News Feeds amongst those who like the Page, and their friends.
Promoted Posts are similar to Suggested Post Ads because they originate as a piece of content on a page, but they are being bought by the Brand via a ‘Promote’ button on the post, rather than through the Facebook ad tool. The pricing structure is different to other types of ads as well, as Page Owners can pay a flat rate to reach a given number of users (while Sponsored Stories and Suggested Posts are paid per impression or per click).
One more difference is that Promoted Posts are only shown to a page’s existing fans, with an option to reach friends of fans as well. These type of ads do not allow for interest, or category-based targeting, which other Facebook ads do.
Why the Confusion?
Many Facebook users do not like advertising on “their Facebook”. We’ve seen feedback coming through for some of our clients’ Pages which shows the level of confusion relating to ads. Some users feel that they are being ‘spammed’ when they see an advertisement; others take offence toward the type of images that are being promoted as they may trigger some kind of emotional reaction in them.
The bottom line is that Facebook needs advertisers money to continue running; and Page Owners actually have no control over which individuals will be able to view their paid advertisements. I don’t like all the ads I see on television or hear on the radio, as not all of them apply to me specifically. However, I think these mediums are understood a lot more than perhaps Facebook advertising is.