Having worked with Facebook for a long time, I’ve had a pretty good idea of where their ad strategy was headed for a while. I understand how Open Graph is really a foundation for improved targeting, and I thought I understood what promoted posts and sponsored stories would mean for brands. However, after a conversation with Jascha Kaykas-Wolff and Brad Cohen at The Oracle Social Summit, I realized that promoted posts may be as much -if not more- for consumers.
In short, if Apple can train kids to buy songs for a dollar why can’t Facebook train kids to drop a buck to reach their friends? As a backdrop there has been research recently that points to the fact that you may only be reaching about 10% of your friends when you post.
Research conducted by Group M Next (a unit devoted to sourcing new technologies) into pages operated by 25 brands finds that the share of Facebook users seeing organic posts from a brand they “like” was down 38% in the five weeks after Sept. 20, from 15.56% (consistent with the average 16% Facebook has often reported) to 9.62%.
While “liking” a brand is not quite the same as a friending someone in your network, I suspect that the stats are comparable. So Facebook is giving kids a paid channel to reach their friends while slowly reducing organic reach. Nice. Were you wondering why folks weren’t engaging with your posts quite as much as they used to? Well promoted posts could be for you … I mean, if you really want your friends to know how cool you are or what you had for dinner.
And there’s an added bonus if you care about your Klout score. I happen to think that what Klout -and Kred for that matter- are up to is very interesting. It’ll be interesting to see how they stay a step ahead of folks who are rolling their own “influence scoring” but that’s an aside. Today, Klout does not factor in that some posts are promoted. Thus, it’s theoretically possible to impact your Klout score with promoted posts. Which means that it’s possible to buy influence.
Now if you’re even a slight bit cynical this won’t be a surprise or even be inconsistent. People buy influence all the time. We did just have an election, remember? With Klout, your posts still have to generate comments and likes and such (my content does that). So, promoted posts get me more comments and likes and such. I suspect that Klout and others will address this as their application evolve. Let’s face it, promoted posts should count though perhaps not quite as much?
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Facebook, of course, has a solution for those of us who don’t want to promote posts but who do want to see our friends’ updates. It’s called “subscribing” and it works. Thus, those savvy personal brand builders will encourage their friends to “subscribe” to them on Facebook. Hint hint.
If I weren’t so damn busy, I’d test out my promoted posts theory just for kicks because I’m really curious to see if it works. My colleague Marius Ciortea told me that he might give it a shot. If he does I’ll circle back to share the results. And, if you’ve done it please comment.
Here’s some data on my promoted post for this article: