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November 12, 2012

Sponsored Stories are all the rage. But what are they?

“Sponsored stories are messages coming from friends about them engaging with your Page, app or event that a business, organization or individual has paid to highlight so there’s a better chance people see them.”

Weird fact about me and Facebook. Their sponsored stories have no effect on me. None at all. Nada.

This has nothing to do with their effectiveness. Seriously. Click through rate (CTR) percentages for sponsored stories are crazy high.

Nor their relevance to my life. I’m sure the stories popping up on my feed are well-tailored to my demographic (Mashables told me so). Data from Spruce Media shows that with sponsored stories, Facebook has been more successful than ever at showing users ads that are geared towards their interests and demographic.

It’s definitely not because of my reliance on the mobile app for most of my Facebooking; Sponsored story CTR performance is highest with mobile. Which is crazy important, seeing as 60% of Facebook activity is now mobile (that percentage is probably higher today, and will be even higher tomorrow).

And, although I’m loath to admit it, sometimes I get super confused and think sponsored stories are just regular parts of my news feed! Facebook, you’re so sneaky!

Nope.

They fail to convert me because I’m confused by all the things my new Dutch friends Like. I should be clicking on so many sponsored stories (at least according to these stats and graphs), but living in Holland has made me immune. Now if only I was immune to the fattening effects of Dutch treats! Damn you Stroopwafel!

So what’s the take-away for recruiting? From what I can gather, there are three major points to focus on when it comes to recruiting and sponsored stories.

Visibility

Sponsored stories show up in users’ News Feeds. This is the same place that updates (hot gossip) show up, so this is where users are often focusing their attention. It’s not surprising then that these ads are getting a lot more love (CTR). As with Facebook ads, you’ll get to target a very specific audience with your sponsored stories, which increases the chances that those viewing your stories will click-through, that they’re actually potential candidates, and that they’re not my grandma.

Trust

People are much more likely to click-through to your page if they think you’re legit. Sponsored stories promote user trust in two ways.

The first is by showing potential candidates that their peers Like you, yes Facebook is basically high-school all over again. Sponsored stories show people that their friends think your page is great by highlighting it when they comment on and Like your Page. Facebook users are much more inclined to visit and Like pages that their friends and colleagues have pre-approved. Sort of like word-of-mouth, but without the bad breath.  You get to choose whether to promote Likes, Comments or Activity with your stories and whatever you choose comes with a stamp of approval.

The second way that sponsored stories encourage trust is through their presentation. They look like any other post. Daniella’s getting married, Duncan Likes Castleville, Pam changed her profile pic (she has such cute hair!) Did you catch that? Facebook puts your ad smack dab in the middle of a potential candidate’s comfort zone, which makes them much more likely to click-through to your page.

Mobile

Social networking is mobile. Just ask your colleagues next time you all go out for a drink. Oh wait, they’re all ignoring you. They’re way too busy “checking-in” and Tweeting about how awesome it is that you’re all out for drinks! 60% of Facebook users log on through mobile first and these numbers are continuing to rise. Sponsored stories have much higher CTR for mobile than desktop. This percentage increases further when both mobile and desktop are targeted together. To recruit successfully on Facebook, getting your ads seen on mobile is a must. Sponsored stories are the most effective way to get that done.

Now if only I could figure out how to use sponsored stories to send fancy baked-goods to my friends back home! Sam Likes stroopwaffel. Click it! CLICK IT!