Facebook Sponsored Stories: Letting companies use user content to advertise [Updated]
Facebook's new Sponsored Stories feature will allow companies to take any user content -- such as status updates, Facebook application use, or Places check-ins -- and turn that content into an advertisement for its products on the social networking website.
The social media giant announced the new feature for advertisers in an "Introducing Sponsored Stories" video posted on its website at about midnight last night.
Facebook representatives weren't available Tuesday afternoon to comment on the advertising feature, but in the video, Kent, a Facebook product manager going by first name only, described it as follows:
All of us aren't out there trying to market ourselves or trying to influence people to go somewhere or do something. But, the reality is, when we make a decision, we're looking for information and we want that information to come from people we trust.
Phil, a Facebook engineer also identified only by his first name, added:
The sponsored stories, what they let advertisers do is take these word of mouth recommendations and promote them.
Phil then gives a hypothetical example of how a company will use user content to advertise itself:
So my friend Joe goes and he checks into Starbucks. That will appear on my news feed and I may or may not see it.
And what we've seen is that a lot of impressions do get lost because there is so much content coming through.
Starbucks can come in and say, 'I want to promote check-ins to our locations.' So, when I come to the site I see the story that my friend checked into Starbucks. Now I can click through, I can like the starbucks page from that story and when I like that page it creates more organic content.
In the video, Kent also said:
Anything that one of your friends is seeing as a sponsored story, which features some of your content, is actually something they would have already seen in their news feed. A sponsored story never goes to somebody who's not one of your friends.
Facebook did not say in the video when the Sponsored Stories ability for companies would go into effect, but it is highly likely that advertisers will take this feature.
The world's most popular social networking website has recently been under scrutiny for allowing Facebook app developers and external websites access to user information such as phone numbers and addresses.
After one day, Facebook backpedaled on the decision, rescinding the access, but has said it plans to allow developers and websites access to the personal data again soon.
[Updated 6:05 p.m.: Cyndi Schott, a Facebook spokeswoman, said Sponsored Stories went into effect on Tuesday.]
-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Video credit: Facebook via YouTube