Facebook to Drop Sponsored Stories in April 2014

If you’re not aware about Sponsored Stories, then to simplify things for you – these are ad like updates shown when a user’s Facebook friend interacts with a sponsored Page, App or Event.

They will appear in your Facebook News Feed because a business or individual has paid to highlight them in the hope that there’s more of a chance others will see them and click ‘Like through to the Page as well.

However – it has been known to many, that marketers and Facebook users have had a love-hate relationship with Facebook’s Sponsored Stories. Proving to be a source of confusion for the marketers (who want to get as much out of their advertising budgets as possible – and a source of annoyance for News Feed noise.

Facebook has announced in a blog post that they plan to put an end to Sponsored Stories altogether – so if you’re looking to purchase a Sponsored Story then you better do it fast – because by April 9th 2014, this feature will be completely removed!

What will this Mean for Marketers? What is the Next Step?

The company confirmed that they were planning to drop Sponsored Stories back in June 2013 – however it wasn’t until recently that we have an official date for when they will disappear from the site altogether (April 9th 2014).

Currently it’s not that clear as to what will replace Sponsored Stories – however what we can tell you is that the existing Sponsored Stories will transition into the ad format “Social Context.”  What ‘social context’ means is that – if your friends like something, then it may get shown to you too on the assumption that you also may like it.  The ‘social’ element of ‘social context’.

The removal of Sponsored Stories only changes the way these ads are delivered to Facebook users, not the fact that the information can be collected and used. A key difference with Social Context ads however, is that they will appear in the right hand sidebar, rather than directly in your News Feed.

So rather than have your News Feed bombarded with ads – the Social Context ads will run in the usual right hand bar where we have become used to seeing  all Facebook’s advertisements.

Social Context will be offered as an option to advertisers alongside other advertising options. With Social Context, Facebook will continue to gather information on users and deliver that information back to those users in the form of ads.

Here’s what Facebook announced in June:

“Wee’re bringing the best of sponsored stories — social context — to all ads. Since this update makes sponsored stories redundant, we will no longer offer them as a stand-alone ad unit for marketers. Social context will continue to appear with all ads where eligible. Our social advertising honors the audience that people choose, so nobody will see information in social context for an ad that they couldn’t already see.”

See the diagram below to see how this should work:

facebook image for blog

As you can see, social media advertising is a constantly-shifting medium, especially as the industry is always growing. So the best thing that you can do is try to keep up with these changes and learn how to stretch each pound as far as possible.

Tip: Don’t give up -Facebook is known to be one of the best ways to reach a large number of customers all at once.

Facebook Update: Edgerank is Dead

In Chapter 5 of The Business of Being Social – A Practical Guide to Harnessing the Power of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube for all Businesses – we discuss Facebook’s algorithm, Edgerank.

What are they talking about? -  I hear your brains a pondering.

If you think about Facebook as a huge database (which it is) – then given the scale of Facebook, you can imagine that ordering the data so that updates and comments etc can be delivered to the relevant people is a significant task.

Instead of having a ‘everyone sees all’ activity schedule – (which would be totally unmanageable given the size of Facebook – and how frequently people use it) – then instead, Facebook has to determine who is going to see what.

And of course, it’s not people that decide who see’s what – but instead, the role is in the ‘chips’ of mathematical algorithms that are accessing a number of factors around the content – and then serving the output.

Historically, Facebook promoted Edgerank as their algorithm. An algorithm which considered 3 key factors (each in themselves a complex calculation):

  • Affinity score – between viewing user and edge creator (translation – how engaged you are with specific connections)
  • Weight for the edge – ie: the quality of the type of content – eg: a comment, a tag, a like, a share etc
  • Time decay – factors based on how long ago the ‘edge’ was created

(See Page 102 in the book for more info).

Whilst these elements are still part of the algorithm that Facebook uses to determine who sees what – it is now widely published and accepted that there are significantly more factors now considered.

In fact – it’s rumoured that there are over 100 factors (and in some reports 100,000!).

Either way – the key element remains in that you need to be working hard on Facebook to generate engagement and then keep that engagement going.

Asking questions (getting people to engage with your Page), quality content and building an influential audience still count.  I suspect as Facebook continues to be a noisy space – then more creativity in to how you corner the eyeballs and activity is going to be needed.

How to clean up your Twitter stream now Twit Cleaner has retired

Yes, Twit Cleaner is no longer.

We refer to Twit Cleaner in our book when talking about how you can manage your Twitter connections – seeing who’s influential, who tweets a lot, who never goes on Twitter, identifying non followers etc .

There’s a great blog on the Twit Cleaner site explaining why they have had to give up the ghost http://thetwitcleaner.com/blog/- however, never fear – Tweepi is here.

The team at Carvill Creative actually prefer Tweepi as the preferred tool to clean up Twitter streams (outside of some of the larger tools we use).

It’s simple, clean and does the job.

So check out Tweepi. It doesn’t do all the things Twitter cleaner offered – but it’s pretty close.