Facebook users may have one less thing to “like” about the social media powerhouse starting this week. A leaked copy of a presentation about a new marketing plan the company is said to be announcing this week offers a detailed glimpse into the future of social media advertising.
Here’s what it might look like: Currently, if I “like” a company, its messages (or “stories,” in Facebook-speak) can show up on my newsfeed. That’s reasonable: If I’m a fan of that brand, I probably don’t mind reading about it occasionally.
But it appears that in Facebook’s brave new world, any companies my friends like also will be able to insert their stories into my feed. In some cases, the ad will pull what other users have said on the company’s Facebook feed and use it for their “storytelling.” Facebook promises this practice will lead to a “40% increase in engagement” and that these ads will be “80% more likely to be remembered.”
This could be useful, or it could be extremely annoying. If my neighbor likes a nearby fitness center, it’s certainly possible that an ad from that facility might pique my interest. But given how many of us have a grab bag of friends, family, grade-school pals, exes and so forth on our friends lists, what an acquaintance likes might be wholly irrelevant to me.
“It gives you an incentive, honestly, to eliminate some of your peripheral friends,” says Sam Hamadeh, CEO at financial research company PrivCo.
Facebook is probably willing to risk turning off a few users because the potential benefit is so huge, he adds. Now, an advertiser might have, say, 40,000 fans. That’s a drop in the bucket for big national brands, so they’re not going to want to pay very much to reach those fans. But considering that the average Facebook user has around 300 friends, those 40,000 fans suddenly turn into 12 million pairs of eyeballs. Suddenly, this becomes an audience worth paying big bucks for — at least, this is the pitch Facebook plans to give potential advertisers.
The proliferation of ads based on what your friends like isn’t the only change, Hamadeh says. Ads will also be bigger. And for the first time, advertisers will have the option of including sound and even videos. Those of you who sneak onto Facebook at work, make sure the volume is turned down first, or a loud commercial could give you away.
PHOTOS: Around the World with Facebook