Facebook recently announced that they are rolling out a new method of advertising. They are calling the new advertising format “Sponsored Stories.” Using Facebook Sponsored Stories, companies will be able to promote news feed generated content.
Mashable already called the new move “bold, clever and lacking empathy.”
What the new format does is to juice up an individual’s status updates with ad-steroids. You post a note that you are at Starbucks or that you “like” your new Sony laptop. Starbucks or Sony might be buying their own brand keyword. What happens is that your status update is promoted to your friends above the regular content. Your update about Starbucks or Sony might normally be pushed down in a swarm of other feeds. Not in this case – your status update would “stick” on your friend’s page, glued by the ad dollars from Starbucks or Sony.
Why would Facebook’s new ad format “lack empathy?” You can see that you just became an unwitting brand ambassador for Starbucks or Sony… However, Facebook appears already to sidestep the criticism by arguing that your friends would have seen the update anyway – it just lasts a little longer!
Facebook Sponsored Stories might become an absolutely incredible tool for corporate recruiting and job referrals. You might imagine the employees of Starbucks tweeting about working at their employer – their updates then spread, virally magnified by corporate advertising dollars promoting those updates. A small, fast growing company would want to tell their employees to say anything they could about the company and then promote those updates through Sponsored Stories – thereby creating a powerful advertising campaign of “real” stories and updates that would spread organically through the employee’s personal connections.
Recruiting firms might also encourage applicants to “like” or update their status about interactions with the firm, and then promote those updates.
Overall, it seems to be a highly effective new method for creating brand advocacy. Employees of companies should, in fact, be the most natural brand advocates, so they would make a great base to spread the word about company culture and hiring efforts.
Facebook has not yet released Sponsored Stories, but announced that it will be coming soon. If you manage employment branding and recruiting campaigns in particular, you will want to keep an eye out for this new development.