Word of Mouth in the New Facebook Advertising Equation

Changes to Facebook aren’t news alone.  New advertising units, tweaks to the privacy settings, and even major overhauls like Timeline occur with a frequency that requires brand page owners to constantly evolve.  The moment a program goes live, Facebook changes something.  It’s par for the course and sometimes frustrating for brand page owners.

These changes, however, do provide a useful guidepost telegraphing the direction that Facebook plans to head.  The most recent change to the way marketers advertise on the site is no different.

The Launch of Premium Page Posts reinforces a trend that’s grown to be the strategic intersection between the world’s largest social network and the brands that call Facebook their hub for social media: Friends of Fans.  Brands know the key to success is not purely impressions or likes but driving advocacy through social advertising.  The assumption is that a fan is more interested in what their friends are doing on the brand page than the brand itself.

If Facebook didn’t believe in the inherent power of Friends of Fans, it would charge brands the right to run premium ads to friends of fans.  On the contrary, Facebook makes a point to say “When friends of your Page’s fans see your ad, we’ll automatically expand the ad enhanced with social context about those fans, at no extra cost to you.”  The advertising equation just got more complicated.  The most important variable now no longer simply ad spend, but now also the level of engagement and word of mouth a piece of content earns.

This suggests an evolution of strategy for Facebook, especially in saturated markets like the US and some pockets of Europe.  With most of the potential users already signed up, advertisers are looking for ways to engage the same pool of users in new, creative ways.  The years of steady growth due to new users, for some markets, is giving way to a strategy that uses the average fan’s 150 friends to drive growth and ultimately advocacy.

Finally, for brands with healthy, growing, engaged communities this means better visibility for all content – not only the posts served in premium ads.  EdgeRank, while somewhat mysterious, rewards brands with greater engagement with greater visibility on the newsfeed. This matters as brands know the lion’s share of impressions comes from the newsfeed versus fan page views.  ComScore analyzed Southwest, Bing, and Starbucks and found a newsfeed exposure to fan page views at  42:1, 45:1 and a whopping 156:1, respectively.  (ComScore).


  • Facebook is holding the first ever Facebook Marketers Conference tomorrow, Feb 29.  This will touch on many topics, social advertising will likely one part of the program.  We’ll be posting a recap of that event, if you didn’t get an invitation, not to worry: they’ll be streaming it live here.
  • You can read the Facebook Guide posted on Scribd here.


Photo credit: Flickr user Marcopaka