One of the hardest things about writing advertising copy is making it appealing to the widest possible audience. Targeted ads change the rules entirely, because suddenly each ad ideally has an audience of one—you. This is a problem that Facebook is facing, and it has come up with the perfect solution—let your friends write the copy for you.

A new program, called “sponsored stories,” picks comments that users write about products and incorporates them into ads that appear on their friends’ pages. So, let’s say you go to the Java the Hut Coffee and order their new strawberry-banana cappuccino. You like it and you say so on Facebook: “The new strawberry-banana cappuccino was as delicious as a night with (X).”  Not only will that appear on your friends’ walls. It will also appear with the other ads on the right side of page, along with your name and photograph. It’s what Facebook calls, “word-of-mouth marketing at scale.”

While Facebook does not tell you if your comment has become an ad, nor can users opt out of the service, the company describes it as “a very positive thing for users.” And for advertisers too.  After all, they will have the ability to flag comments that they deem offensive.

Facebook has already been testing the new advertising strategy with the charity UNICEF and products such as Coca-Cola and Levis. Fortunately, it did not exist when Coke was testing New Coke.
Read More at the Wall Street Journal.