Facebook has recently become more than the perfect excuse for creeping on friends: Now companies can creep on you.
The website has begun to blend its traditional advertising techniques with the information streaming across the newsfeed, encouraging users to “like” pages chosen by their friends.
Having recently harnessed the popular power of product-based pages to increase revenue, Facebook Marketing Solutions allows businesses to sponsor these pages, which will now appear as links on the user’s sidebar as sponsored advertisements. These short blurbs allow Facebook users to view pages selected by their friends and possibly to like them as well.
The new strategy is a departure from the advertisements individually tailored to interests listed on one’s personal page. The prominence of ads now relies on companies’ willingness to dish out money to the social network.
Facebook’s newest addition, the combination of paid sponsorship and the organic ability to affirm one’s support for a company by making a simple click, mimics word-of-mouth advertising. The experience is analogous to a friend’s personal recommendation of the product, enabling better name recognition and retention.
“It’s the whole basis of social commerce,” Anthony Hurtado (MSB ’12) said. “People trust their friends more than some random advertisement.”
Other students see the advertisements as an extravagance to the website.
“Just because someone clicks ‘like’ on something doesn’t mean that I would ‘like’ it,” Alanna McAuley (COL ’13) said. “It’s not the same as a friend actually recommending something.”
The new sidebar advertisements are also visible longer than they would be in the traditional newsfeed. The duration of advertisement is determined by the amount of money paid by the company.
Facebook users have the opportunity to create their own advertisements featuring some of their events or interests. The website provides easy instructions on the creation process, and spots are available for a minimum of one dollar a day.
These advertisements can be targeted to a variety of audiences based on gender, age, interests, location and language.
Facebook also announced a location-based deal yesterday that combines elements of sites like Foursquare and LivingSocial. Facebook Deals combines elements of other popular networking sites by offering coffee or restaurant deals that the user can obtain by “checking in” on Facebook. The new service is now available in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Spain, France, Germany and Italy.
Facebook assured its users that the advertisements are in accordance with their privacy settings and do not share any information that is not already available to one’s friends or the public.