Facebook’s Sponsored Personal Posts Die With a Whimper
Back in 2012, Facebook introduced a Promoted Posts feature in the U.S. allowing users to pay to get posts more visibility in the news feed. At around $7 per post, Facebook envisioned the posts would be used for garage sales, parties, wedding photos and other announcements. The option could also be used to promote bands, and other events.
After you published a post, you payed for a Promote button to increase its rank in the news feed so that it appeared both higher in the feed, and to a larger portion of your friends. Unpromoted posts are usually only seen by 12-16 percent of your friends. After you Promoted a post, it was marked “Sponsored,” and you could check to see how many more people saw your sponsored post.
You could access the details about your sponsored story, as well as metrics about how many people it reached in your Ads Manager. This is also where you could go to to edit the targeting of your sponsored story. When editing your sponsored story, you were taken to the ad creation page with the details from the sponsored story already filled in, giving you the opportunity to make changes to the ad title, text, image, targeting or bid. You could select targeting parameters in the Choose Your Audience section of the page.
But last month, Facebook tacitly pulled the feature.
Facebook originally promoted the feature in major trade publications, with an announcement regarding the tests on Facebook.com. Aimclear points out that in classic Facebook style, there are few or no announcements to be found regarding the retired feature.
The original Facebook announcement was here, but now returns a 404 error. The Help Center link “Ruby” also returns a 404, page not found. Aimclear notes Facebook pulled the feature and then almost erased all references to the former function without announcing.
Aimclear laments about how nice it was to buy visibility without having to work at connecting with friends inside of Facebook. “We considered personal page post amplification a ‘Display network,’ in which the targeting was to personal friends. While not crucial, it was fun to write a check and dominate distribution among people I’m connected to. Farewell, sponsored personal posts. That was a fun experiment for those in the know.”
Facebook Ended Sponsored Stories Ads In April
After bad press and a court settlement, Facebook shut down its controversial “Sponsored Stories” feature on April 9. The ads showed how your Facebook friends interact with a sponsored page, app or event. If one of your Facebook friends “liked” a company or checked into a music venue or restaurant, his action would appear along with their profile picture as an advertisement in the feeds of their Facebook friends.
As the Huffington Post reported at the beginning of the year, the feature was controversial among privacy advocates. In 2011, the year the feature launched, the company was hit with a class-action lawsuit that claimed the ads violated users rights by publicizing their “likes” and online behavior without any opportunity to opt-out or for compensation.
Facebook settled the suit last year for $20 million, agreeing to give users “more control over how their content is shared,” according to Reuters. The settlement amounted to about two cents per Facebook user.
But in November, Facebook restated that it was still able to use the postings and personal information of 1.2 billion accounts on the service for advertising purposes. In a blog post Facebook wrote that “social context — stories about social actions your friends have taken, such as liking a page or checking into a restaurant — is now eligible to appear next to all ads shown to friends on Facebook.”