4 Tips for Leveraging Facebook Sponsored Stories

May 28, 2012 7:32 PM  By


Quickly earning a reputation as the best way to cost-effectively achieve social marketing goals on Facebook, Facebook Sponsored Stories leverage high-profile Facebook real estate and the credibility of fans to better engage their friends and bring them into the fold. Not only do these ad placements turn up on the right sidebar, but sponsored stories can now also appear within users’ news feeds.

Sponsored stories leverage social content generated by existing fans through a brand interaction to reach friends of those fans and build a wider base of potential customers. Users respond better to these more relevant ads and that leads to greater click-through and conversion rates for marketers.

Perhaps you’ve started to notice certain merchants or brands that your friends on Facebook are liking. These engagements with retailers and advertisers are becoming more pronounced because of sponsored stories.

Some recent examples of retailers doing a good job using sponsored stories include Lowes, Levi’s and Starbucks. Starbucks, for example, provides a variety of ways for fans to like them, from their drinks to their local stores.

Sponsored stories outperform other Facebook ad types
It’s no surprise that marketers can achieve premium results with Facebook Sponsored Stories since they enable marketers to get their messages included in the highly-visible news feed and drive higher engagement rates by targeting friends of existing fans.

The added benefit of being able to put an ad in a much more visible location on the screen gives users an even simpler way to socially interact with and even share an ad, if they feel so compelled. These ads consistently prove useful in growing a brand’s fan base, and as a result, each subsequent ad has the potential to outperform the one before it.

One leading apparel brand that sells directly online, maintains several retail locations, and can be found in most major clothing stores ran Facebook campaigns using a mix of ads, and when looking at click-through rate (CTR), sponsored stories performed the best.

In fact, that brand’s sponsored stories’ CTR was 136% better than the next closest ad type (social ads, which drove visitors to the brand’s Facebook page). Sponsored stories also had a conversion rate 134% greater than the next best Facebook ad type, social ads.

Also, the premium results that sponsored stories deliver don’t come with a premium price tag. Sponsored stories carry a $.41 average cost-per-click (CPC) for the retailer in the example above. This is half the cost of the next highest ad, and 42% less than the average CPC for all the campaigns.

Marketers looking to effectively deploy sponsored stories should consider these four tips:

Always-on strategy
One of the few drawbacks to sponsored stories is that they only show when someone engages with a brand. Therefore, marketers should always keep their sponsored stories campaigns running to make the most of positive customer interactions.

Use the CPC model
Facebook gives advertisers the ability to choose between a CPC and cost-per-thousand (CPM) model. When purchasing ads on a CPM basis, sponsored stories prove the most expensive ad type, so the best bet for brands with a strong CTR is to opt for CPC pricing. Facebook rewards ads with high CTR and sponsored stories usually perform the best when measured by CTR. Using the CPM model in most cases will result in higher costs for sponsored story campaigns.

Don’t rely on sponsored stories to solve all your problems
Sponsored stories are great for amplifying positive interactions with brands but not as well as some other types of promotions if the primary goal is to accumulate lots of fans. Sponsored stories have limited impressions because they rely on customer’s engaging with brands, so marketers should be sure to use a mix of ad types for well-rounded campaigns.

Use a mix of sponsored stories types
Sponsored stories come in several variations from domain posts to check-ins. Marketers should find the mix that best fits their needs. For example, online-only vendors should use domain stories and page like stories to drive traffic to their sites and Facebook pages rather than worry about check-ins.

Ariel Rosenstein is marketing research director for digital marketing software provider Kenshoo.