Understanding Facebook’s New Social Context Metric

In Facebook, it is normal to see ads, but once we see some of them being ‘Liked’ by friends, it is normal to ask what’s the impact of liking such ad. Now, as Facebook unveils its latest social media metrics, we are seeing answers to these questions.

A few days ago, Facebook launched a new metric that measures how friend connections react to the same ads we see displayed on Facebook.
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Visible from the ad manager, the “Social %” metric displays the percentage of ads that were displayed along with an endorsement from at least one Facebook connection ([Friend’s name] likes this). Just like a recommendation from a friend in the offline world, ads with “Likes” are deemed more relevant and are likely to receive more attention than an ad that nobody among one’s circle of friends.fb-adlike. As it is widely understood that consumers trust their friends than other people when it comes to how they perceive ads, it is therefore not surprising to check the findings from Nielsen that ads with social context (endorsements from friends) are more engaging than those without them. Looking at the stats, social context boosts ad recall by 10 percent, awareness by 4 percent, and purchase intent by 2 percent.

It does not require an ad to be advertised using Facebook Ads to achieve such objectives. A Facebook page’s administrator/owner can simply suggest the page to his or her friends. Status updates of those who respond and become fans of the page are visible in Facebook’s stream of wall updates. As this “ad” impression appears without the need of advertising, it is also referred to as “organic ad impression”. And this creates certain degree of influence. If my close friend likes “Finnair” fan page, I could think positively about “Finnair” brand even if I never flew this airline yet. The more Facebook users become fans of a page, the wider the reach of these “organic ad impressions” become.
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It would be interesting if Facebook also incorporates in its reports the percentage of visitors who closed the ads for certain reasons: misleading, offensive, repetitive, uninteresting or other reasons.

Now, the next step for advertisers to aim for is how to increase the “Social %” percentage on each of their ads.