Facebook's marketing features set to change

When it comes to marketing your business, few social networks are as engaging as Facebook. Over the last few years, the site has improved its advertising features to help small business owners connect with users to bolster brand recognition. Even platforms that aren’t meant for marketing have given companies small boosts in exposure. For instance, the Cover Photo field is extra space that allows entrepreneurs to post promotional content.

Sponsored stories are another popular feature that Facebook created specifically to help companies reach out to the public. Specifically, the tool allows businesses to advertise both to fans and to users who haven’t followed pages yet. However, the advertisements won’t exist in their current format in the near future.

Advertising Age recently reported that Facebook announced that sponsored stories will be revamped by 2013’s fourth quarter. The format will no longer be available as an individual marketing tool. Instead, business owners will be given various options that are meant to increase the “social context” of a post. Brian Boland, Facebook’s product marketing director, explained that sponsored stories will exist in a different fashion once the updates are rolled out later this year.

“Sponsored stories as an idea doesn’t go away. Sponsored stories as a product goes away,” said Boland.

The news source explains that there are currently 13 unique types of sponsored stories that companies can use on Facebook. The plethora of options allows entrepreneurs to find the perfect way to advertise their businesses because no two owners share the exact same objectives. The flexibility to choose different types of marketing messages and optimize the content to achieve specific goals was a boon for many professionals, but this also hurt Facebook’s efficiency as CMSWire explains that businesses had to create two separate posts in order to engage consumers.

Companies had to develop regular advertisements in addition to their sponsored stories to effectively market to the social network’s army of users. Ultimately, this meant that enterprises were doing twice the work for only half of the reward. Sponsored stories were redundant and forced small business owners to dedicate additional resources to Facebook, which may have taken away from other marketing efforts.

What’s more, the redundancy caused users to complain about an abundance of ads in their News Feeds. Customers were upset that every time they logged into Facebook, they’d see pages and pages of promotional content instead of updates from friends and family members. Because social networking is supposed to be a leisure activity, some consumers may have felt like companies were overstepping their boundaries and trying to force their way into a private space.

The update of Facebook’s marketing features eliminates redundancy by combining standard advertisements with sponsored stories, according to CMSWire. The new tool allows small business owners to only create one ad so there’s no need to constantly develop new marketing materials. The social network will now analyze the social context of the post’s placement to determine if it can go live as is or if sponsorship is necessary. Facebook is taking the guesswork out of social media marketing so that small business owners can enjoy more benefits with less dedication.

What this means for you
The changes to the social network’s system may have massive effects on your business, especially if you rely on sponsored stories for lead generation. Most notably, you’ll be able to spend less time on Facebook so you can potentially focus on other social media marketing strategies. Moreover, you’ll be able to track how users are responding to your advertisements and what type of content works best for engagement.

What do you think about Facebook’s imminent changes?

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Martin Jones

Martin Jones is a Senior Marketing Manager with the corporate Cox Communications social media team where he assists in leading strategy, campaign ideation and marketing execution for Cox Business social media & content marketing. Today, over 1 million fans engage with Cox Communications content, campaigns and Customer Care on Facebook, Twitter, You Tube. LinkedIn and Google+.