Sponsored Stories vs. Promoted Posts on Facebook: Which is Right for Your Business?

Alicia Lawrence

The following is a post from Alicia Lawrence, the first-ever contributor for simonoh.com.

For many businesses, Facebook is a large part of their online marketing strategies. One important aspect of this strategy is choosing the best way to utilize Facebook to reach their target audience. Regular posts are only seen by a small percentage of fans and friends that are chosen by Facebook’s algorithm.

To get a post to reach more viewers, businesses must use paid advertising. Facebook offers both promoted posts and sponsored stories as ways to advertise to Facebook members, but there are vast differences between the two. Knowing the benefits and uses of each can help companies decide when and how to make use of one or both options.

An example of a sponsored post on Facebook

An example of a sponsored post on Facebook

Sponsored stories

Basically, sponsored stories are posts that businesses pay to be highlighted. It could be a flattering comment or a friend posting that they went to or are going to an event. Companies can choose to have these posts highlighted so more people see them. This attracts new fans and gains the attention of old ones as well. There are no minimum fan limits, so any business can use this feature on a pay-per-click basis.

Promoted posts

The promoted post option is the new kid on the Facebook block. While similar to sponsored stories in that it is a way to get posts seen by more viewers, these posts aren’t pushed out to everyone. Although promoted posts are only seen by fans, they’re less expensive than sponsored stories and have a higher click-through rate. Only fan pages with more than 400 fans can use this option.

Choosing which and when

Small businesses with only a few hundred fans or less will only be able to use sponsored stories, making the decision easy. For businesses with over 400 fans, they may decide to use one of these options or both. Both will target existing fans, but only sponsored stories also will be shown to non-fans, giving a business the chance to connect with new customers. Choosing when to use these techniques and which one depends on what is attempting to be achieved.

  • Engage old customers – Promoted posts are great to engage old fans that have not interacted with the page in awhile.

  • Attract new customers – Sponsored stories are the best way to reach out to new customers.

  • Larger or targeted reach – Sponsored stories have a larger, targeted reach.

  • Higher click-through – Promoted posts will get more click-throughs and cost less per click. Sponsored stories will cost more per click, yet have a lower click-through rate.

For example, if a plumbing business wanted to show an ad on their great water heaters to get new customers, sponsored stories would be the best choice. For an ad on plumbing maintenance for previous customers, promoted posts would probably be better.

Both methods have their pros and cons. Since the main deciding factor is whom the post is intended for, many larger businesses will find a time to use both techniques as part of their Facebook marketing strategy.

Alicia Lawrence is a content coordinator for a tech company and blogs about online PR in her free time. Continue the conversation with her over on Twitter and Google+.