Sponsored Facebook Content: An Experiment
Sponsored pages and sidebar ads have become a normal part of the Facebook experience. With increasingly sophisticated analytics, paid content strategies, and the CIA watching our every move online, advertisements on Facebook are creepy relevant. If I shop for shoes online and browse Facebook shortly after, an ad for that shoe brand will without fail appear on the side bar. Sponsored pages aren't as obviously tied to a simple search. Ben and Jerry's, Chipotle, and Refinery29 are three companies that have planted themselves in my Newsfeed. This makes sense - I'm in their target market, I've been on their Facebook pages recently, and I've visited their websites. These (along with several other) factors influence who shows up in my Newsfeed, but how hard is it to fake it? How much intentional digital interaction with a random brand does it take to have them show up on my Facebook? Let's find out.
John Deere Tractors, I'm comin' for ya. (Or rather, I want you to come to me.)
First stop: Google! After a simple search for John Deere, I clicked their paid link to their website. To make myself look like an interested customer, I found the John Deere locations near me, browsed their products, and built a customized sugar cane harvesting tractor (which I'm now emotionally attached to despite its base price of 400k).
Next I perused their social media channels. I followed and unfollowed their Instagram 5 times for important research purposes, and gave their Youtube videos a couple sympathy views. I also browsed their Twitter, which had a surprising amount of humor and an even more surprising amount of babies on tractors. Just to make sure John Deere saturated my browser history, I searched for and clicked on John Deere links a dozen more times (again, scientific research purposes).
So did John Deere show up anywhere on my Facebook Newsfeed? Nope! But an ad for the Volkswagen Jetta did. Am I surprised? Disappointed? No, because this wasn't a real experiment and I have never searched for John Deere tractors before this moment. There is obviously a lot more thought and planning that goes into sponsored content on Facebook, but I'll be interested to see if John Deere shows up somewhere else.