My brilliant colleague at BoostCTR, Noran Shinnawy recently hosted a Rountable at SES Chicago titled: Facebook Ad Formats — so titled specifically to broaden beyond Facebook Ads to include the use of Sponsored Stories.  And in speaking to Noran about the event, she went so far as to call Sponsored Stories a “hidden gem.”

She says hidden, because incredibly few Facebook Advertisers know what sponsored stories are, and even fewer have used them before.  And she calls them a gem because Sponsored Stories have proven to be remarkably effective compared with regular advertising.

In fact Sponsored Stories produce:

So it seems that Sponsored Stories deserve what little hype they’re getting.  But there are some things to keep in mind, with perhaps the most important being:

Sponsored Stories Are Step #2

So here’s what a sponsored story is: you take an interaction that a fan has already had with you, whether it’s liking your fan page, or liking a post, or downloading an app, or something else, and you “sponsor it” into appearing on the right-hand side of the page, where ads normally appear.

So, originally, whatever interaction you are sponsoring into a story, would have already appeared to friends of that fan as part of their newsfeed.  But it’s highly likely that that one item in the newsfeed got passed over.  So now you have the chance to sponsor that bit of “news,” and when you do that, you get to place that news onto the right-hand column, where ads typically appear. Except that this “ad” only appears to friends of that fan, and shows up as prominently “endorsed” by that fan, like this:

Now, there are multiple “likes” or interactions that you can sponsor, including a like of your fan page, posted content, comment, app download, etc.  But the important thing to remember is that you have to already have had the interaction in order to sponsor it as a Sponsored Story.  And that’s what I mean when say that Sponsored Stories have to be Step #2 in the process.

The other limitations are these:

  • Sponsored stores only go out to friends of the “liking” Facebook user,
  • You’re limited to 50 pixel by 50 pixel thumbnail instead of an 80 by 110 pixel image
  • You are pretty much limited to calls-to-action involving “like” and “share”

All in all, those really aren’t too limiting are they?  Especially when the form itself boasts higher CTRs, download rates, etc.

So do yourself a favor and go create your own Sponsored Stories success story!