Fact Check: News Feed ads, Reach Generator, private messages, offers

It was a busy week for anyone following Facebook. The company overhauled pages and introduced a number of changes to its advertising platform. All the new terminology and features are easy to mix up so we wanted to clarify a few points.

Users will not see paid content in News Feed that could not show up there organically

Facebook is not actually allowing advertisers to serve ads in the News Feed of anyone they want to target. A user must have Liked a page or have a friend who took an action on a page (Like, comment, share, check-in, claim an offer, etc.) in order for a paid story to show in the mobile or desktop feed. If advertisers want to reach people who have not Liked their page or who do not have the endorsement of a friend, then their ads will show up on the right hand side of the page like all other ads.

This is the key difference between Twitter’s promoted tweets and Facebook sponsored stories. Twitter inserts promoted tweets directly in users’ streams, regardless of whether a person follows the company or someone they follow retweeted it. On Facebook, there has to be some existing relationship between a user and the content creator before that content can be shown in News Feed.

Reach Generator only available to ‘premium’ advertisers

Reach Generator, which helps pages reach more of their existing fan base, is meant for brands spending hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions, on Facebook. These advertisers will pay a fixed rate depending how many Likes their pages have, not on cost per click like many advertisers using Facebook’s self-serve platform or Ads API tools. Pages without that kind of budget can still expand their reach with page-post ads and Sponsored Stories. The difference is that these ads are not necessarily eligible to show within News Feed or on mobile devices.

Pages cannot send private messages to users unless a user initiates the conversation

With Timeline for pages, users can now send direct messages to page admins. This allows organizations to handle customer service issues or other sensitive matters in private. Pages are not able to initiate private messages with fans or any other user.

Any page can create an offer for free, but pay to promote it to non-fans if they want

Creating an offer is meant to be as simple as creating any other post. These will be free and are not subject to Facebook approval, unlike check-in deals, which the company will be phasing out in the next few weeks. Offers will show in fans’ News Feeds on desktop and mobile. People whose friends have clicked to get the offer will also see the promotion in their feeds. In order to reach more people, a page owner could buy a page post ad or sponsored story.