Everything You Need to Know About Facebook Sponsored Stories

If you create Facebook Sponsored Stories, you are undoubtedly running highly effective and relevant advertising while saving yourself time and money.

If you aren’t, well… you aren’t. You’re undoubtedly wasting that valuable aforementioned time and money. No one wants that.

The “Sponsored Story” is an abused and misunderstood phrase that has long been used interchangeably — and incorrectly — with all forms of Facebook advertising. The truth is that this is a specific type of advertising.

While there is a very simple thread connecting them, there are also many different types of Sponsored Stories. Many that you’ve likely never used before.

The purpose of this post is to explain what Sponsored Stories are, the types available, why they are valuable and how you can start creating them today.

What Are Sponsored Stories?

Let’s start by breaking this phrase up into the two separate parts and define them independently.

Sponsored = Advertising
Stories = Created when a user interacts with another user, Page, place or app

Stories are generated when a user likes a Page; likes, comments on or shares a post; checks in to a business; claims an Offer; answers a Question; uses an app; or RSVPs to an Event.

You see countless organic stories in your News Feed or Ticker every day. When friends interact with other friends and privacy settings allow for you to see it, a Story is generated for you. Similar stories are generated whenever these friends interact with Pages, Places and Apps.

Here’s an example of a story that is generated when a friend likes a Page:

Facebook Page Like Story

Like many of the stories you see in your News Feed, the example above is organic. I see it immediately after the action was taken. In this case, when my friend liked this Page, I immediately saw the story in my News Feed.

While most of these stories are organic, they can also be promoted to create Sponsored Stories. This assures that friends see a story beyond the short window after it was immediately created.

Types of Sponsored Stories

There are many types of Sponsored Stories. Since Facebook is constantly growing and changing, you can assume this is an incomplete list.

  • Page Like: Story generated when a friend likes a Page
  • Check-in: Story generated when a friend checks in to a business
  • Wall Post: Story generated when a friend posts to a Page wall
  • Post Like: Story generated when a friend likes a Page post
  • Post Comment: Story generated when a friend comments on a Page post
  • Post Share: Story generated when a friend shares a Page post
  • Offer Claim: Story generated when a friend claims an Offer
  • Question Vote: Story generated when a friend answers a Question
  • App: Story generated when a friend uses a Facebook app
  • Event attendee: Story generated when a friend attends an Event
  • Domain: Story generated when a friend shares a link from a specific domain

So, there you go. There are 11 different opportunities to create Facebook Sponsored Stories.

Here’s an example of a Page Like Sponsored Story:

Facebook Page Like Sponsored Story

There is little difference between this and the organic Page Like story shown earlier. The ad includes a “Sponsored” label. As you can see, the story was created several days ago, but the ad still appears in my News Feed.

Why You Should Create Sponsored Stories

Now let’s talk about saving time and money by creating easy and efficient advertising.

Advertisers spend countless hours obsessing over copy and imagery in their ads. If they’re doing it correctly, they split test and create dozens of variations to find what works best.

When you create Sponsored Stories, however, your options are limited. You’re simply promoting the story that a user already generated.

You don’t control the imagery. You don’t control the copy.

Even the targeting options are limited since only friends of the user creating the story will see it. Privacy settings apply even when a story is sponsored.

So the first reason you should create Sponsored Stories: They are freaking easy.

The second reason: They are freaking effective.

The reason they’re effective makes a whole lot of sense. Which of these ads would you be most likely to click on?

  1. Ad #1: Ad from a company you’ve never heard of touting its own product
  2. Ad #2: Ad promoting your friend’s interaction with that company or product

I’m pretty sure you’d be more likely to click on Ad #2. And the results back it up.

Sponsored Stories work due to the power of social proof. Your friend liked a page, interacted with a post, used an app or attended an event. You should, too!

How to Create Sponsored Stories

Let’s get this out of the way first: Yes, you can create Sponsored Stories with the self-serve ad tool. Just select “Get More Page Likes,” “Promote Page Posts” or “See Advanced Options” and Sponsored Stories are automatically generated.

Facebook Sponsored Stories Self Serve Ad Tool

You could do this. But don’t.

Instead, you need to use Power Editor, a browser plugin. While it may not be user friendly, you have far more control over targeting, placement and bidding when you use Power Editor. And most of the great new ad features and options go there first.

When you create an ad in Power Editor, simply select “Sponsored Story” from the “Type” drop-down. Then choose which type of Sponsored Story you’re creating.

Facebook Sponsored Stories Power Editor

It’s really pretty easy!

How Will You Use Sponsored Stories?

Make no mistake, I love Sponsored Stories. I constantly have a Page Like Sponsored Story and a Domain Sponsored Story running. It’s a very easy way to constantly drive a new relevant audience to you.

Do you run Sponsored Stories? What creative ways are you using them? Let me know in the comments below!

  • http://www.danerickson.net/ Dan Erickson

    These are different than sponsored posts, right? I need to look into Power Editor. What is the average cost for a sponsored story? I am very limited in how much I can spend on FB ads. I’ve simply been sponsoring a few $5 to $10 posts per month. Will sponsored stories be equivalent in costs?

    • Kenneth

      HI Dan, the aim of a sponsored post and a sponsored story (to generate Page Likes from a relevant audience for example) would be different. From my own experience I’ve found that promoted posts don’t really generate many new page Likes / fans, but rather engagement (eg sharing of content). So it depends on what you want to achieve out of your $$$s. It’s definitely worth setting up a sponsored story even with just $1 a day or so allocated – run it for a few weeks and test results.

      • dori

        what options do you choose for costs & optimization section pls ?

  • Kenneth

    Do you set specific targeting for these also, eg. people in USA who like Social Media etc?

    • http://antoniocalero.com/ Antonio Calero

      YES, you can. The only option not available (Jon, correct me if I’m wrong) is the “Friends of Connections”, as….this is already part of the Sponsored Stories mechanics. In other words: you cannot target people whose friends are not connected to your Page (since, in that case, a Story about your Page cannot be generated)

  • http://antoniocalero.com/ Antonio Calero

    I am too a believer of Sponsored Stories, and the only “problem” I’ve seen is customers not trusting so much the fact hey have no control over their targeting or ad. However the CTR is incredibly higher and mos times this is enough to convince.

    Just a curiosity: for some reason I’ve found these are more effective with younger audiences than with older ones.

  • Bill

    I’ve used them and I’ve seen them work. I think that the multitude of options available for advertisers is beyond what the normal small business person can handle. We are at a point where businesses need to hire professionals to run their ads or they are throwing money out the door. Most people don’t have the time to keep up with all the changes.

  • Efrat Dekel

    got it finally! just set up a test sponsored story for the first time, very easy indeed..

  • KirstenNelson

    Jon, whenever I have a question about what the heck Facebook is doing now, you’re the place I come for answers. Thanks for laying this all out! Makes so much more sense now. :)

  • Liz Gross

    Looks like a lot of the sponsored story options are going away: http://adage.com/article/digital/facebook-drops-sponsored-stories-cuts-ad-formats/241969/

  • http://www.perfumetrader.com/ Perfume Trader

    I love Facebook Sponsored Stories. It attracts a good relevant and identifiable audience. I’ve use it for quite a while now very successfully.


  • Elke

    I want to have sponsored stories without having an ad. this should be possible, but I can’t seem to find it:)
    Do you know how?

    How can I set up sponsored stories without running an ad?
    If you only want to run sponsored stories, after you choose your Destination, click on See Advanced Options in the goals section. Hover over the upper right hand corner of the section called Your Ad and click on the X that appears. If you’ve already set up your ad, go to the Ads Manager to pause or delete your ad.

  • RT

    Thank you Jon. I have a question though that no one asked, I think. What about the ads you place in another fanpage from your industry, they go on the right side but they are shown to people from my industry. Should I keep them? Is that an efficient way of taking them to my fan page or am I mistaken? Thanks!!

  • http://MarketingNinjas.com/ Jeff Schneider

    Hey Jon, I was in Power Editor today trying to set up a Sponsored Like ad for a new client. I see they now have New Objectives but you can still select the old ones. I don’t see the Sponsored Story option in there anymore. Is it still possible to do these types of ads? Thanks Jon!

  • sarmenhb

    when i saw paid reach i automatically asumed facebook made there own adsense program. I am sad to see that they havent. Is it at all possible to get paid from ads?

  • http://adventedesigns.com/ adventvk

    Thanks for the Detailed description for the Sponsored Post.

    Kind Regards