Facebook News Feed Advertising
In your Facebook news feed you’ve probably seen posts marked as “sponsored ” or with a tag “suggested post”. These posts are the recent kind of Facebook ads that became available in the news feed last year.
Whereas a typical post by a Facebook business page is visible only to people who liked that page, these “in-feed” ads are displayed to both the people who liked the page, and to their friends.
What’s so cool about the in-feed ads is that, unlike traditional ads, they visually appear less like an ad and more like an organically shared piece of content. Since many of us have learned to tune out ads, these in-feed ads are more likely to grab our attention and may be a great way for a businesses to increase awareness and engagement.
What’s so uncool about in-feed ads is that, if done incorrectly (aka – irrelevant to the user) they are perceived as spam. Aside from the fact that spam creates a negative impression of your brand, irrelevant ads can also harm your campaign rankings. Since, unlike TV viewers, Facebook users are able to get proactive, irrelevant in-feed ads will get reported as spam (which drives the ad’s news feed impressions down to the bottom).
But let’s talk about a few specifics:
1. What can be advertised in Facebook news feed
2. How to make your ads more relevant and less spammy
3. The dangers to look out for
4. How do you manage your Facebook ads.
First, here is the type of content that can show up in a news feed.
1. Sponsored stories
A “story” in Facebook terms is an action someone takes on Facebook. Examples of stories include posting a status update, sharing a photo, liking a status update or a comment, commenting on a post. With Facebook you can highlight actions users take to promote your business by creating a Sponsored Story type ad (which creates a broader reach and more impressions in a news feed). Here are some of the actions you can promote:
- people liking your page or your post
- people checking into your location
- people commenting on your post or posting on your wall
- people sharing your page post
- people engaging with your Facebook app (e.g. playing your game)
- and a few other actions.
2. Ads linking to your business page on Facebook:
- linking to your Facebook page
- linking to a post on your Facebook page
- linking to your app on Facebook (news feed on desktop only)
- linking to a Facebook event that you set up on your Facebook page.
3. You can also place video ads (linking to your Facebook page or a post) or set your ad to be mobile-only.
Here are a few ideas to consider to improve the relevancy of your ads (and decrease the “spamminess” factor).
First, and the most obvious, is – try make your ads relevant to your viewer’s interests and context. According to Facebook (specifically – the COO of Facebook Sharon Sandberg), Facebook’s vision is “to be the place where 70 million businesses worldwide go to offer personalized, relevant advertising.” Since the early days of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg has been known for his unbendable unwillingness to sacrifice user experience for advertising profits, and it seems to have paid off for him : ).
Is your ad relevant to the viewers’ context?
People come to facebook for lazy and easy information consumption (to see what’s going on with friends and family), while we are standing in line in a grocery store or waiting for a friend at a restaurant, or to comment on issues we personally care about (politics, events, technology). What marketing message fits with your viewers’ context and expectations?
- Ads marked with a “Suggested Post” label have received quite a bit of negative feedback. Facebook users seem to have a hard time understanding why a promotion of a brand they’ve never liked or engaged with before appears in their news feed.
- Instead your ad can promote a story (a user action) – people liking, commenting on or sharing your Facebook page, or a post. Such sponsored stories will have a less prominent tag of “sponsored” next to them, and most importantly they will display a name of someone who liked or shared your ad.
Don’t Always Be Closing.
- A post with something interesting or educational, such as a recipe or a “how to”.
- If you are out of ideas, you can even promote a post with an inspirational quote (quotes tend to get a good number of likes on Facebook).
- Promote a message that goes with your beliefs (fostering education, feeding the hungry, etc.). In today’s world we have many options for who we spend our money with. Choosing a brand that promotes a good cause makes us feel good.
Is your in-feed ad relevant to your viewers’ interests?
Facebook isn’t exactly razor-sharp when it comes to the demographic targeting options. You get the standard options of age and location, and the “Interest” category selection is rather limited. However, if you understand the persona of your customer (music your customers typically like to listen, what movies they might like), you can construct some pretty interesting demographic targeting.
Also, small local businesses have flexible and intelligent geo targeting not only by zip code or city, but also by radius around that city.
And here is something cool: you can even target people who have birthdays coming up!
Think of users’ privacy
When thinking of promoting checking into your location or likes, think of potential privacy issues. Your viewers may not always realize that their actions would gain a lot more visibility or are a part of a sponsored ad campaign. Would they be OK with it?
What are some of the dangers to look out for with Facebook in-feed ad campaigns?
People may comment on your ad, and sometimes it looks like this:
Probably not much of an issue for small local businesses, but whether you are guilty or not – certain larger brands should be prepared for the unexpected.
And finally, how do you manage your ads?
Facebook ads can be managed in a standard Ads Manager, and in a Power Editor. While the Power Editor may seem a bit confusing at first, it is more flexible and powerful, with options that are not available with the standard editor. With the Power Editor you can mass edit your ads and ad settings, and access additional targeting options.
You need to be using Chrome browser to access the Power Editor. On your Facebook business page click on the Ad Manager button, and then click on the Power Editor link on the left.
In a nutshell, Facebook in-feed advertising, if done correctly, can be a good way for consumer-facing businesses to build awareness and loyalty. And the good thing is – you can experiment on a tiny budget, track your stats and see how it works out!