Facebook: Where PR and advertising collide

The latest word-of-mouth marketing tool is here: Facebook's new "social ads" lets members become spokespeople for the social network's online advertisers. The site is allowing...

The latest word-of-mouth marketing tool is here: Facebook's new "social ads" lets members become spokespeople for the social network's online advertisers. The site is allowing advertisers to create profiles, through which users can identify themselves as "fans" of the company's products. Users' friends will then be notified about their fan status through Facebook's popular news feed section.

If this takes off, it could be an influential example of PR and advertising fusing in the new media space. The NY Times reports:
Each user’s news feed will contain items like “Bobby Smith is now a fan of Toyota Prius.”

News feeds can be linked to outside Web sites as well, so users can tell friends about what they rented at Blockbuster or are auctioning on eBay.

Facebook will offer all of those features to advertisers free. What it will charge for, however, is appending an advertisement to these news items. Toyota could buy the right to put a photo and a short message under every news-feed post that links to the Prius.

In addition, Friends of Bobby, to continue this example, will see banner ads for Toyota throughout Facebook’s site. At the top of each of these ads will be a photo of Bobby and the fact that he likes the Prius.

“Nothing influences a person more than the recommendation of a trusted friend,” said [Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's founder and chief executive].

Yet companies should be careful. The tactic could backfire if users decide they don't want corporate marketing to interfere with their social networking.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register
Already registered?
Sign in

Would you like to post a comment?

Please Sign in or register.