Facebook Rolls Out User-Defined Sponsored Stories Ads

Not surprisingly, Facebook has discovered another new way for businesses to advertise, this time in the form of Sponsored Stories. This new Facebook marketing format allows some posts by your friends to be promoted content for companies, currently including likes, check-ins and actions within custom applications and Page posts.

Companies can now pay to have a percentage of the aforementioned activities featured in a Sponsored Stories slot in the right-hand side of the column. This further reinforces one of Facebook’s main marketing vehicles – the concept of building brand trust through social recommendation. The social network site will not directly show your personal content, but the actions of a user’s friend would show. According to Mashable, “If a company has a custom app (e.g. Starbucks Card or even FarmVille), it can promote the actions users take within them. The same is true of users posting on the walls of their favorite brands.” Current launch partners for this new social media advertising platform include Coke, Levi’s, Anheuser-Busch and Playfish. Facebook is also partnering with a host of nonprofit organizations, including Girl Up!, Donors Choose, Malaria No More, Amnesty International, Women for Women, Autism Speaks, (RED), UNICEF and the Alzheimer’s Association. Any company or nonprofit could begin bidding on Sponsored Stories spots as of January 25th.

Targeted advertising had been the main social media marketing format for Facebook for some time now, and Sponsored Stories is the perfect predecessor to help companies expand their exposure on the social site. While this new feature is similar to Twitter marketing, there is one unique difference – the user defines what content is advertised instead of the advertiser themselves.