Let's say one of your Facebook Fans posted something like... "Back in Starbucks - 2nd time today - I just can't keep away from their vanilla lattes". That counts as a referral doesn't it, and we all know that referrals are better than anything we could say about ourselves, right? Right. So Facebook is rolling out Sponsored Stories, a new ad format that turns your fans actions into adverts - if you decide that's what you want.
It works with four kinds of action: likes, checkins, actions within custom applications and page posts so that what drops into your feed can be turned into an ad at the click of a button - meaning that those ads are action driven as opposed message driven. That makes sense to me because in a world where broadcasting from one to many is obsolete in favour of many to many, Facebook display advertising still to a certain extent meant one company pumping out a message to many. Sure the page owner still decides what does and doesn't become an advert, but they are choosing what others have said or done, which seems like a more social and a smarter way for Facebook to introduce a new ad format.
Facebook's roster of launch partners included Coke, Levi's, Anheuser Busch and Playfish. Also, the social network is partnering with a slew of nonprofits for Sponsored Stories, including Donors Choose, Girl Up!, Malaria No More, Amnesty International, Women for Women, Autism Speaks, (RED), Alzheimer's Association and UNICEF. That was launch, but now anybody can bid on Sponsored Story slots (by a per-impression and/or a per-click basis).