As you know, I’m a big believer in the power of Facebook advertising to grow your fanbase and promote your content. But what you may not know is that in addition to regular Facebook ads, the social network has recently allowed you to run a new kind of ad called Sponsored Story ads, which I’ve found to be incredibly effective so far.
Sponsored Story ads can be run just like any other ad on Facebook – you set up an account and set a daily budget for the amount of money you’re willing to spend on the ad and the amount of money you’re willing to bid per click. The ads appear on the sidebar of pages throughout Facebook as your targeted audience surfs the site. But here’s the two things that make Sponsored Story ads different from typical Facebook ads:
1. Sponsored Story ads feature the content of your most recent fan page status update as the content of the ad. Unlike typical ads, you don’t choose the image/text and destination of the ad.
2. Sponsored Story ads can only be targeted to people who are already fans of your page.
Now, at first these may both seem like negatives, but that’s probably because you’re missing the true value and reason to run these Sponsored Story ads – they are designed to ensure that all the people who are fans of your page actually see the updates you post.
As I’ve written before, typically only about 5% of your fans actually see the updates you post. I’m sure you’ve already found that to be incredibly frustrating and wondered why nobody seems to be responding to the majority of your posts. Well, Sponsored Story ads can correct that problem, because now all of your fans will be seeing your updates in their sidebar, even if they miss them in their newsfeed.
Yes, you’ll have to pay for people who click on your Sponsored Story ads, but the costs are fairly low and in my recent experimenting I’ve found it to make a huge difference.
I started running Sponsored Story ads for my Connected Comedy Facebook page back on March 25th and immediately saw a huge impact in terms of interaction on my Facebook page, traffic to my website, and emails from people interested in my services. I was blown away to realize how many people had become fans of Connected Comedy, but were never seeing my status updates before I started running the ads. Running Sponsored Story ads suddenly brought them back into the Connected Comedy community and led to me getting a lot more interaction on everything I posted.
While it cost me a little money, it didn’t cost that much considering what I got out of it. Since I started running the ads, it’s cost me an average of 12 cents per click and has generated 1,355 clicks to my Facebook page so far – and keep in mind that doesn’t count all the people who clicked the ad, found something interesting, and shared it with their friends.
Also, keep in mind that every time somebody visits your fan page or interacts with an update, it makes them more likely to see your future updates in their news feed – even if you’re not running the Sponsored Story ads any more.
My Connected Comedy audience has grown significantly in the past few weeks and I think that’s had a lot to do with the Sponsored Story ads.
Another reason why I’m so high on Sponsored Story ads is that I’ve noticed how they catch my eye as a user. There’s not a lot of pages I follow that are using the ad, but one comedian (and Connected Comedy reader) who I know has been using them is Dartanion London.
How do I know Dartanion’s using the ads? Because I see just about every status update he posts in my sidebar running as a Sponsored Story ad. That’s right, unlike the hundreds of other comedian fan pages I “Like,” Dartanion is the one guy whose updates I always see because he’s the only one (as far as I know) running the Sponsored Story ads.
I reached out to Dartanion before writing this post to see if he had a similar experience to me with the ads and sure enough, he was singing their praises as well. Here’s what he said about them:
Yes, it seems like we’re the only two comedy people running those ads ’cause I see yours next to mine all the time. I’d say they are working well for me to drive engagement, but not as well to gain new fans. Does that match your experience?
Basically, I write a new joke every day and put it on Twitter and Facebook. The Sponsored Stories are nice ’cause they automatically make the status update into an ad for people that are already my fan. If they’re not, then I can still target them but only with a “like box”, which doesn’t have nearly as good a response rate. They’re only costing me a few bucks a day, which still adds up over a month, but I’ve been pleased at the small but growing “community” that’s springing up around my fan page.
I think the thing that makes these work is having consistent updates; jokes in my case or blog posts in yours. I suspect it’s even more valuable to you though, since you’d be getting a person to go to your blog whereas half the time I will just get someone liking the ad. If other comedians want to emulate this they’ll also have to emulate the constant updates.
For what it’s worth, Dartanion’s probably not gaining a lot of new fans from the ads because they don’t get seen by people that aren’t already existing fans. Also, since he’s posting mostly text updates (which cannot be “shared” on Facebook), he’s probably not getting much of a viral lift from it. If he were posting links to sharable content (like I do to my blog posts), he’d probably get some more new fans out of it.
One more thing to mention regarding Facebook’s Sponsored Stories ads is that like all Facebook ads, you can turn them on and off whenever you want. So, even if you’re not prepared to commit to running them regularly, I would recommend at least running them occasionally when you post a status update that you really want people to see. I think you’ll find it’s a great way to ensure that your fans see what you want them to see.
Have you tried an Sponsored Story ads? Leave a comment and let me know what kind of results you get…