March 5, 2013, 3:50 PM

Facebook adjusts its preferred developer program

The social network temporarily stopped accepting applications last month.

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Facebook Inc. is again accepting vendors’ applications for its Preferred Marketing Developer program—with a couple of changes—after a nearly three-week pause during which it did not accept new applications.

The social network operates the program to vet marketing services vendors that seek to help brands manage Facebook-related tasks such as 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.

In reopening the program to new applications, the social network says it will prioritize vendors who have “proven success” when working with the social network’s internal teams or other Preferred Marketing Developer vendors.  

“Throughout the history of the PMD program, we've learned that companies referred to us by a trusted, credible and informed source were much more likely to ultimately join the program as they had proven to be successful on our platform and with marketers,” Facebook said in a blog post.

The social network also wants vendors to 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.

Facebook’s practice of curating the content a consumer sees in his news feed has come under scrutiny recently as Nick Bilton, a New York Times columnist who has his own Facebook page, suggested in a column Sunday that Facebook is limiting how many consumers see pages’ posts unless those pages use Promoted Posts. His conclusion was based on his own anecdotal experience—content he shared on Facebook attracted few interactions, such as Likes and comments, except when he paid to highlight a message using Promoted Posts.

That sparked Facebook to post a sharp reply late yesterday via its Facebook + Journalists account. “A few data points should not be taken as representative of what actually is happening overall,” the social network wrote. Facebook says that overall engagement on pages has increased 34% year over year.

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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