February 13, 2013, 3:29 PM

Facebook puts the brakes on its preferred developer program

Those developers help marketers manage efforts on Facebook.

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Facebook Inc. says it has temporarily stopped accepting new applications to its Preferred Marketing Developer program, which is a certification program the social network manages to vet vendors of marketing services.

Those vendors help marketers with a variety of Facebook-related tasks, including creating pages, managing content and measuring consumer interactions with that content. When Facebook determines a vendor has demonstrated “value-added capabilities” in helping marketers perform such tasks, the vendor can display a Preferred Marketing Developer badge.

The pause will last a few weeks while it digs out from an “overwhelming” number of applications, a spokeswoman for the social network says.  

While reports have circulated that Facebook will reshape the vendor program to focus on the social network’s paid ad products, the spokeswoman says that is not the case. “There is no specific requirement that all PMD’s run ads,” she says. However, many, if not most, vendors who receive certification do offer comprehensive Facebook marketing products, including helping marketers buy and target ads, she says. When the program opens up again, it will require vendors to show that they have a deep understanding of the links between Facebook’s paid and organic content—even if they aren’t specifically focused on paid content.

One example of that link is Facebook’s Promoted Posts product, which lets a brand pay to ensure a certain percentage of Facebook users see its message. Without using the product, the social network says that, on average, consumers see only 16% of the content posted by their connections. That’s because the “Top Stories” section of the news feed, which is what consumers see when logging on to Facebook, features a curated assortment of posts based on the social network’s algorithm that uses the Facebook member’s interactions—her posts, Likes and other actions on the social network—to present her with what Facebook deduces are the posts most relevant to her. By promoting their posts, retailers can ensure that a particular message is seen by a wider swath of its fans.

“What we are working on, just as we do for brands and agencies, is ensuring that the PMD ecosystem is comprehensive in its knowledge of the entire Facebook marketing platform versus a smaller subset,” the spokeswoman says.

The Internet Retailer Social Media 300, a comprehensive analysis of e-retailers’ social commerce strategies, includes a vendor section that profiles the leading social consultants, platform providers, app developers, analytics and other social networking and marketing providers.

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