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We’ve all seen it on our Facebook walls at one point or another; funny stories from friends, yet another cute picture of a kitten saying something ridiculous, and that sponsored post from a company trying to sell us a product that we could care less about. To some Facebook users, this latest monetization effort by Zuckerberg and the brain trust behind Facebook is somewhat annoying. In fact, some users have even gone as far as saying that when they see a post is sponsored, they immediately hide that user to avoid repeat solicitations.

Before writing off the entire sponsored Facebook post idea completely, however, let’s take a closer look at what your average customers appreciate in a Facebook ad and how sponsored posts could actually make sense for some businesses or professionals.

What is a Sponsored Post Anyway?

In case you don’t already know, a sponsored Facebook post is just like a regular one; except that it’s given priority by Facebook’s news feed so your friends are more likely to see it. In fact, the theory is that it should show up towards the top of all your friends’ feeds and all of their friends as well; which means that a simple $7-15 could earn tens of thousands of page views in a short span of time.Sponsored Post Example

Some sponsored posts will be eligible for additional distribution options as well so that your messaging can make it well outside of your inner circles. This makes the messaging more like traditional ads, except they are placed in each person’s actual news feed instead of in the right banner column.

How Has the Facebook Community Reacted?

This feature has been available on Facebook for a little over a year now and the feedback has gradually shifted from universally negative to somewhat neutral. Part of the growing acceptance of sponsored posts is that companies have learned that overselling a product or service quickly leads to anger among the community and members are not the least bit hesitant when it comes to leaving heated replies (which, ironically, makes the featured post rank even higher on reader’s walls). Some unwelcomed featured posts have received thousands of negative comments and led to countless “unlikes” to the point where businesses have stopped advertising on Facebook all together.

The general rule that businesses have adopted towards this marketing strategy is simple; do not make a comment featured if there is any doubt about the outcome. Of course, this drastically limits the ways that sponsored posts can be used; which we will cover in the next section.

What are Some Tips for Sponsored Posts?

For individuals, sponsored posts on Facebook are a great way to announce a new milestone, celebrate an achievement, or promote a new business venture. Posts should be short and to the point, with a firm call to action exactly once. Any subsequent posts should probably not be sponsored unless they’re to announce updates on a previous message.

For businesses, the rule of thumb is a little different. Posts should not have a call to action at all unless it’s for a giveaway or a very limited promotion. There are exceptions to that, of course, with trending clothing retailers and restaurants generally better received than businesses that cater to other industries. Here are a few other ideas to keep in mind as well-

  • Companies that actively answer replies tend to have much higher success rates
  • All featured posts earn attention (good and bad) so only link to stellar content
  • It sometimes makes sense to feature older posts if they are newsworthy
  • Humor often makes branding messages more appealing to followers
  • Imaging (or video) drastically raises the success rate of featured posts
  • Including a question is a great way to encourage replies

Remember, people decided to follow your brand because they already have some degree of trust in your company. They will see your regular Facebook posts already, so there is little reason to invest in featured advertisements if your online following is already responsive. There is a delicate balance on all social media websites and Facebook is already overflowing with sales gimmicks as it is. While it’s still a great marketing tool if used properly; like any tool, if you are unsure of how to use it correctly it is a great idea to ask asocial media marketing expert.