Facebook Tips: Sponsored Posts & Messages

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Mark Zuckerberg had a great idea for a nice little social networking site for his college; who could’ve foreseen the monster (and time-suck!) it would become for people all over the world?

Facebook changes its features so often, it can be hard to keep up. Hopefully, this post will help to clue you in to some relatively important Facebook stuff you didn’t already know.


How Come I Don’t See All My Friends’ Updates In My Newsfeed?

Facebook allows “sponsored posts”, which are posts people have paid to have featured more prominently the site. One of the ways they feature these posts more prominently is by stuffing users’ home newsfeed page full of ’em. If you want to see less of what is essentially paid advertising and more updates from your Facebook friends, here’s what you do:

On your Home newsfeed page, at the top right corner of the newsfeed, there’s a very small, barely noticeable, light grey link for “SORT”. Its default setting is “Top Stories”, which pushes sponsored posts to the top of the list. There’s a smattering of non-sponsored stuff there too, but just enough to keep users from feeling that all they’re getting is advertising.

Click on the SORT link and change it to “Most Recent” to go back to the old sort, from the days before sponsored posts, when you’d get to see all your FB friends’ posts in order from most recent to oldest.

BEWARE: Facebook will automatically change the sort back to “Top Stories” on you from time to time, without warning, so anytime you notice a lack of your friends’ posts in the newsfeed, you’ll need to change the sort back to “Most Recent”.

Facebook: there’s an app for that.


I’m Sick of Sponsored Posts in My Newsfeed! Is There Any Way To Get Rid Of Them?

Yes and no.

You will never be allowed to get rid of ALL sponsored posts on Facebook, because thousands of new sponsored posts are being created every day and released out into the Facebook site. After all, if lots of people weren’t being made to view sponsored posts, it wouldn’t be worth the money for anyone to pay for a sponsored post in the first place. But there are some steps you can take to greatly reduce the number of sponsored posts in your feed.

1. First, check out that tip above and change your newsfeed sort from “Top Stories” to “Most Recent”. That right there will eliminate a big chunk of the sponsored stuff.

2. Learn to tell the difference between legitimate status updates and sponsored posts, and opt out of the sponsored stuff.

Very often—in fact, I might even go so far as to say most of the time—, sponsored posts are disguised as legitimate FB status updates from your friends. They’ll say something like, “Joe Schmo likes Tide detergent,” where Joe Schmo is one of your FB friends and there’s a link attached to the status update from Tide. The ad will usually be an invitation to “Like” the product’s page, enter a sweepstakes, or something similar.

Teaching people how to use Facebook advertising to grow their businesses has become a business in and of itself. This is just one of MANY books aimed at helping sellers get more of their ads in front of Facebook users’ eyeballs.

But here’s the thing: your pal Joe did not sponsor this post, and probably has no idea his name and picture are being used in it.

Advertisers have clued in to the fact that people are more likely to read posts they believe are legitimate status updates from their FB friends, and Facebook has designed its sponsored post program to take advantage of this. When an advertiser sponsors a post, FB can check its massive database to see who has already ‘Liked’ the product or service being advertised, and then add these sponsored posts to the newsfeed of those users’ Facebook friends, disguised as legitimate status updates from the people who’ve already ‘Liked’ the product or service. Here’s how to fight back, at least a little.

1. When you see one of these sponsored posts, mouse over the upper right-hand corner of the post to reveal a ribbon type of icon with a downward-pointing arrow.

2. Click to open the drop-down menu of options for the sponsored post, and click on Hide to hide the sponsored post.

3. This will hide the sponsored post, and will also offer you a link to “Hide all stories from [advertiser name]”. Click on that one, too. Now you’ll never see another sponsored post from that advertiser.

As you’ve probably guessed, this can quickly get to be like a game of Whack-A-Mole, but maybe if enough FB users keep doing it the site will get the message that we don’t like these kinds of sneaky advertising tactics.


The Mysterious “Other” Message Folder

When one of your Facebook friends sends you a private message, you get a clickable alert on Facebook that 1) lets you know you have a message and 2) lets you open the message.

When someone who isn’t a Facebook friend sends you a private message (if you’ve allowed non-friends to message you in your security settings), that message is routed to the Other folder on the Messages screen and you are not alerted to it in any way. The only way to know whether or not someone who’s not a FB friend has messaged you is to periodically open the Messages screen and click on the “Other” folder icon in the left-hand column to see what’s there. Go check it out; you may be surprised to see how much stuff is there.

Recently, Facebook came up with yet another money-making idea. Since most Facebook users don’t even know about the Other messages folder, never mind whether or not they’re actually checking it, Facebook introduced the option for users to pay a fee to have their messages routed to the main messages folder when they message someone who’s not a Facebook friend. Doing this ensures the recipient will be alerted to the message just the same as for messages from FB friends, so the message is more likely to be opened and read.

Here’s a post I wrote all about this, if you want more information:

Yes, Facebook IS Charging For Some Messages, But It’s No Big Deal


Feel free to ask any Facebook questions you may have in the comments section below, and I’ll do my best to answer them!


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  1. Comment by Terri:

    Thank you for the helpful info!

  2. Comment by Sylvia:

    I want to delete where I attended high school. How do I do that?

    • Comment by Mom:

      Mouse over the upper right-hand corner of the About section on your FB profile. Click on the Edit or Remove icon there (it looks like a tiny grey pencil), and select Update Info from the drop-down menu. This will load your information page in an editing mode. In the Work and Education block (upper left hand side), click on the Edit button to change anything in that section. Once you’ve entered a school you cannot delete it unfortunately, only change it, but if you click on the security settings icon (it’s to the immediate right of the box where you’d enter a school name; it may show a little globe, a gear, the icon for FB friends—little silhouettes of people—or a padlock) you can change the setting for who can see what you’ve entered there to “Only Me”. Then click Save to save your changes.

  3. Comment by GySgt Philip L. Fowler, USMC (Ret.):

    You are just about the smartest person I know! Wish you lived in Indiana! Thanks for all the tips, April!