If An Advertiser Is Sponsoring Your Facebook Post, There Are Rules
September 6, 2016
Radio stations often include "Facebook posts" in their advertising packages for clients. In general, this is a practice I discourage because it's so easy to do badly. (Although there is a way to do it properly -- more on that in a bit.)
When you post to your station's Facebook account with a blatantly commercial message ("Go to the Mattress Store's sale this weekend!"), no one's really winning in this deal. It doesn't help your client, it annoys your listeners, it causes people to unfollow your station, and it doesn't do Facebook any favors either.
Every social network and search engine that shows content to people, whether it's in search results or a newsfeed, has a vested interest in showing people the stuff they want to see. After all, if Facebook constantly shows people content that they're not interested in, they will stop going to Facebook.
And guess what? Nobody wants to see ads in their newsfeed.
Will Facebook put ads in people's newsfeeds anyway? Sure, but only if they're getting paid for it.
If your station is getting paid for it and Facebook isn't getting a cut of the action, their algorithm is going to reduce the number of people who see the post. After all, why should they annoy their users if there's no money in it for them?
That's why Facebook has very specific rules around "branded content" -- i.e., content that your station is posting because it's getting paid to do so. If you don't follow the rules, Facebook may now block your post. (Jacobs Media Strategies alum Lori Lewis wrote about this last week.)
You can see the full rules here, but they boil down to this: You must tag the advertiser you're working with in your posts using Facebook's handshake icon, and you can't post anything that is so blatantly promotional that it turns off people.
These rules apply not only to posts, but also to Facebook's new live-streaming video feature, Facebook Live.
So what should your radio station do? Two things:
1) Brush up on the tagging requirements.
Make sure everybody in the station understands what Facebook's rules around tagging third party advertisements are and how to do this. Program directors, social media directors, and the salespeople who are selling these packages should all understand what's involved. It's not complicated, just review these rules and this guide together.
2) Focus on branded content, not ads.
There's a reason Facebook calls third-party marketing posts "branded content" and not "ads." Even if Facebook's algorithm didn't discourage the use of annoying promotional posts for third party clients, they would still be ineffective because, well, they're annoying. Instead, focus on creating content that people want to see which incorporates the sponsor.
One great way to do this is to take advantage of Facebook Live. Facebook Live videos tend to get a lot of views because Facebook is pushing the service hard, so it can be a good way to support your clients, especially if you're including on-site appearances as part of your advertising package. Here's how it can work:
Agree to stream parts on your on-site promotional appearance on Facebook Live. You will still need to tag the client in the post when you do. Then, decide ahead of time on some visually engaging activities that you can do as part of your Facebook Live videos. You will have to go above and beyond the typical radio station prize wheel.
It's time to rebuild the standard promo kit with visual elements. You'll also want to develop a new set of on-site games that have a "play along at home factor" to entertain not only the people at the event, but also those who may be watching online as well. Think of your station's promotional appearances as mini-game shows.
In the end, your station should put together campaigns that not only don't run afoul of Facebook's rules, but also work for both your listeners and your clients.