Earlier this year, we introduced Sponsored Stories, a new Facebook marketing tool that allows you to highlight word-of-mouth recommendations about your brand. With Sponsored Stories, you can feature interactions such as Page Likes, application interactions, and Place check-ins in the right-hand column of Facebook, giving them extended visibility beyond the News Feed. We caught up with Product Marketing Manager Jim Squires on why he’s amped about our latest product launch for businesses.
What was the inspiration behind Sponsored Stories?
All of our products are centered on the concept that the web is organizing around people. Sponsored Stories felt like both the next logical step, and a huge leap forward in organizing marketing around people. Sponsored Stories let your biggest fans tell the story, influence their friends, and spread the word about your brand.
The inspiration behind Sponsored Stories was the observation that one of the most compelling sources of content for people on Facebook is the News Feed. For users, it’s the content they come to look at every day. And for advertisers, one of the top requests we hear is how to increase visibility of the stories related to their brands that happen organically in News Feed.
So, Sponsored Stories felt like a natural and very complimentary product: People on Facebook get messages that are more relevant to them, and we can now offer marketers some strategic control over the word-of-mouth recommendations and endorsements already happening on Facebook.
You helped develop Sponsored Stories. What are you most excited about?
Word of mouth is incredibly valuable, but it’s unpredictable. With Sponsored Stories, for the first time, you can plan for and build word-of-mouth into your campaigns.
I’m equally excited about the value provided to users. Sponsored Stories is the type of marketing that I personally like to see, versus something that is intrusive or not relevant to me. These are highly relevant, interesting stories from your News Feed, so being able to see them improves the overall user experience.
How should marketers and agencies optimize campaigns for Sponsored Stories?
Thinking about Sponsored Stories in advance – when you’re in the planning phase of a campaign— is key. For example, I’ve seen several campaigns that involve real-time publishing to a brand Page. That is a great use case for Page Post Sponsored Stories — now as you publish, your paid media campaign can update in real time as well.
There is also a more tactical side to optimizing for Sponsored Stories. Application Sponsored Stories are a good example. When building your app, you’ll need to think about how the News Feed stories that you’re creating will translate into Sponsored Stories. The Sponsored Story is often an abridged version of what you’re seeing in the News Feed. You’ll want to structure your app’s News Feed stories to best relay a message when it appears in both the News Feed and as a Sponsored Story.
Can you comment on the future? How do you see Sponsored Stories changing in the next year?
Based on all the campaigns flighted over the last few months, Sponsored Stories perform extremely well. We see significant increases in engagement, and increases in brand lift, including likeliness to recommend and recall. Based on the performance, and on the fact that this is a unique product that harnesses word of mouth, I see advertisers beginning to build Sponsored Stories into every campaign they do. And from our perspective, because of the value provided to both users and advertisers, you can expect to see extensions to the product, including new types of stories for marketers to sponsor.
Jim Squires leads Product Marketing for Sponsored Stories at Facebook.