October 25, 2012, 3:54 PM

Facebook lets marketers expand the reach of their posts

With Suggested Posts they can reach consumers that are not fans.

Lead Photo

A shot of a Suggested Post.

Facebook Inc. is testing an ad format called Suggested Posts that enables advertisers to expand the reach of their posts beyond those advertisers’ fans and the friends of those fans.

The format enables marketers to have their promoted posts appear in a consumer’s news feed, even if the consumer has not Liked the brand. The news feed is the first page a consumer sees when logging on to the social network.

Each ad is labeled a “Suggested Post.” The ads include a Like button to enable a consumer to Like the brand’s page without leaving the news feed. That’s useful when a marketer uses the format to promote special offers to its Facebook fans. For instance, a Chicago-area dry cleaner is using the ads to offer consumers who Like its page a printable coupon that shoppers can use in its stores.  Suggested posts appear on Facebook both on computers and mobile devices.

The new format builds on the Promoted Posts format the social network launched in May.

Promoted Posts enables marketers to ensure that a post will be viewed by more of a brand’s fans; the social network says that, on average, consumers see only 16% of the content their connections post. 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.

The new Suggested Posts format lets advertisers target specific customer niches that are likely to be interested in its brand, but lack a connection who has Liked its brand. That means that a running apparel retailer, for instance, could target consumers who are likely to be interested in its brand because they use a running application that tracks their mileage on the social network or they Like marathons.  

“We think this will make it easier for businesses to reach more people,” says a Facebook spokeswoman.

Suggested Posts are distinct from another, similar Facebook ad format, Sponsored Stories. Those ads, which were the first ad format the social network introduced to the news feed, are only shown to shoppers who already Like a page or whose friends Like a page. Suggested Posts enable marketers to access consumers with whom it has no apparent connection.

The spokeswoman says that Facebook is testing the new format to gauge how consumers respond to the ads.


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