social media how toAre you using Facebook ads to drive traffic to your website?

Did you know that when people share your website content on Facebook, you can turn that shared content into a Facebook ad?

You can do that with Domain Sponsored Stories.

Domain Sponsored Stories are inexpensive and easy to run, and you don’t need a Facebook Page to start a campaign.

In this blog post, you’ll learn what Domain Sponsored Stories are and how you can create your own today.

What Are Domain Sponsored Stories?

A domain is a website that you control.

A Sponsored Story is a Facebook ad that promotes the action performed by a Page or user’s friend, follower or fan.

A Domain Sponsored Story, then, is a Facebook ad that will promote a Facebook user’s interaction with a website that is under your control.

What Do Domain Sponsored Stories Look Like?

domain sponsored story

This Domain Sponsored Story came from my friend Emeric, but it could have just as easily come from a public figure I follow or from a Page that I like.

As you can see, the only difference between this Domain Sponsored Story and a typical post is the “Sponsored” tag at the end.

Why Create a Domain Sponsored Story?

Domain Sponsored Stories are low-maintenance ad units and you can run them in the background to constantly drive traffic to your website. Here are a few reasons to use them:

  • Increase the reach of your blog posts.
  • Increase traffic to product Pages and impact revenues.
  • Reach users who missed content the first time. Hopefully you understand why you should promote your Page content to reach fans who may have missed it the first time. Only half of your fans are on Facebook every day and even then, they’re active during a small window. The same holds true for users catching their friends’ content. Promote a user’s interaction with your website and more of their connections are likely to see it.

Privacy Clarification

Advertising through Domain Sponsored Stories does not override your privacy settings.

privacy settings

If you share a post from and that share is turned into an ad, only the people who were already eligible to see the original share will see it in an ad.

The Limitations of Domain Sponsored Stories

  • Someone may share a post using an unflattering comment. You may spend money to help promote that post because you cannot choose which share to promote or not promote.
  • If you have a low-traffic website that gets very few shares, Facebook has little share activity to turn into ads. Whether you reach your daily budget or not is partially dependent upon the volume of daily share activity from your website. You need users who are already sharing your website content.
  • Domain Sponsored Story ads do not lead to increased Page likes. Depending on what’s shared, they may not lead to sales or conversions. They only lead to increased website traffic.

You’ll need to determine whether the benefits of Domain Sponsored Stories outweigh the limitations. As someone who owns a website that turns traffic into revenue, I find them extremely useful.

Results of Domain Sponsored Stories

Back in November, Brendan Irvine-Broque shared how PageLever used a Domain Sponsored Story to get nearly a 10% CTR. That means that one of every 10 users who saw the ad clicked on it. That’s insane!

How did it work?

  • PageLever started a Domain Sponsored Story campaign.
  • They wrote a controversial blog post called Fact Check: Why Mark Cuban is wrong about Facebook.
  • Sean Parker, who had 540,000 followers at the time, shared that blog post on Facebook.
  • Parker’s share was turned into a Domain Sponsored Story ad that surfaced to his friends and followers.

The trick, of course, is to get an influencer like Sean Parker to share your content. That’s not always possible, but when it happens, the share can make your promotion infinitely more effective.

Create Your Own Domain Sponsored Story

#1: Claim Your Domain

From your Insights Dashboard, click the green Insights for your Website button at the top right.

facebook insights website

Facebook Insights dashboard.

That will bring up a pop-up that looks like this:

get meta tag

Fill in this pop-up to generate the meta tag to paste into your website.

Enter your website’s domain (no www) and link it with either your personal profile or your Facebook Page. If you are the only person who will need to access any Facebook Insights associated with your website, choose yourself. Otherwise, you can select a Page so that all admins of that Page have access.

#2: Add the Meta Tag to Your Site

In the step above, you were presented with a meta tag. Copy and paste it between the < HEAD > tags of the template of your site. This way, the meta tag will appear on every Page shared from your domain.

How you do this will depend on the CMS you use. I use Genesis Framework, and I can edit this area within Theme Settings or Simple Hooks. The All In One Webmaster plugin also provides a field for this.

Only shares from Pages containing this meta tag will qualify for Domain Sponsored Stories.

From your Insights Dashboard, your domain will now accumulate stats. Here’s an example.

insights dashboard

Track Facebook activity associated with your domain in the Insights Dashboard.

If you don’t see any stats a day later and you know there have been shares to Facebook from your site, re-do steps 1 and 2.

#3: Create Your Domain Sponsored Story

To create a Domain Sponsored Story, you should use Power Editor, a browser plugin. It offers numerous advantages over the self-serve ad tool.

When you create an ad, do the following:

  • Select Sponsored Story as the ad type.
  • Click About people sharing links to your domain.
  • Select your domain in the destination.
    power editor

    Set up a Domain Sponsored Story in Power Editor.

Complete your ad and upload as you normally would (again, read the Power Editor tutorial if you need more help here). Monitor your results within the ad manager during the coming days.

Your Turn

Domain Sponsored Stories offer an inexpensive and low-maintenance option for increasing your website traffic from Facebook. The stories can be optimized and focused to promote specific content based on where you paste the meta tag in your website.

What do you think? Do Domain Sponsored Stories seem worthwhile to you? Have you tried them? What results are you seeing? Let me know in the comments below!

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  • Eric Leszkowicz

    This is a great post on a topic I was previously lost on.

    Readers should know that #2 can be a bit of a tough one depending on theme (and technical skill). I have some white space issues in my header that is causing facebook to miss the code (long story and I hope to get it working soon).

    Thanks again for a great step by step.

  • Pingback: Popular Blogs: The Top 5 blogs you should know | Blogging With Dani()

  • You’re right that it depends on the theme and CMS. It also makes it difficult to provide a one-size-fits-all solution.

    Certainly let us know how you fix the problem, Eric!

  • Emeric

    Great article Jon, I am so proud to see my picture in there 😀

  • AJL

    Good stuff! I produce articles for a number of automotive retailers and although I’ve been sharing them via HootSuite to all the popular channels, this is a game changer.

  • Thierry Bourret

    This will link to my personal profile on FB but can I link this to one of my pages?

  • This is for driving traffic to your website, Thierry. It’s not related to either your page or profile. When setting up the code you have to connect it to either a profile or a Page, but the only difference there is regarding the stats Facebook will show you regarding FB activity on your site. If set up with your profile, only you will see those stats. If set up with your Page, all of your admins will see those stats.

    Hope that helps!

  • That picture makes this article great!

  • Hi Jon – I’ve had great success with sponsored stories. Now I have to figure out how to implement the Sean Parker effect 🙂

    I don’t know if this is a question for you or Cindy, but what is the software or plugin that activates the Pin It button when I mouse over images? I never noticed that before.


  • Jeff — I use the plugin on my site, too, so I’m guessing it’s the same thing. It’s this:

  • Eric Leszkowicz

    First I checked to make sure there were not hiccups using the Facebook debugger.

    There was not.

    Then, tried and tried to work with my theme (30 minutes gone)

    Installed the plugin that you suggested and….it worked.

    SO the moral of the story is play around with code for thirty minutes or just follow Jon Loomer’s suggestions. 🙂

  • Thanks for the article Jon I wasn’t aware that this was an option. I read that Facebook is cutting sponsored stories from their ad lineup is this true and if so will this type of ad be affected? This is the article I saw talking about sponsored stories being cut:

  • Astrid Bidanec

    Does not seem to work with the new beta version of page insights. There is no option for domain insights.

  • Astrid — I don’t have the new page Insights, but this is separate. Did you click the link in Step #1?

  • Its a WordPress plugin named — Pinterest Pin It Button for Images that lets you pin your post images when you hover over them.

  • Thanks Govind – I’ll check it out.

  • I don’t have the new Insights either but the first link worked for me @jonloomer:disqus. I really hope they don’t take this away!

  • New page Insights really shouldn’t impact this since it’s not dependent on a Facebook page. But there is concern of the ad unit going away due to Facebook’s trimming of ad options. We’ll have to wait and see!

    My guess is that they will keep Domain Sponsored Stories in some way. Could be a different form.

  • I haven’t done domain sponsored stories myself but it does look enticing. It seems like I learn something new everyday when I visit SME, thanks for the solid content Jon.

  • Thanks for reading, Tyronne!

  • Thanks Jon – easy tutorial! For future reference, is there any way to navigate to the Insights Dashboard from within your account? Or is the direct link the only way to get there…

  • Sending traffic to your site through FB is genius! I love it!

  • Unclear. Based on the statement I’ve read from Facebook, this is overblown. All ads will be social going forward, so they are essentially folding Sponsored Stories into all ads. This would seem to be different than any other type of ad unit — not sure how they could possibly integrate it with another type of ad.

    I guess we’ll have to wait and see!

  • :))

  • Vivek G Maudgalya

    This is very informative.
    Thanks. !!

  • Rakesh

    @jonloomer:disqus , I could not understand much, Kindly make it little laymen like Advantages and how can I track the same.

  • Alex Koval

    Is my understanding correct: With Domain Sponsored story, a FB ad is triggered every time somebody makes a share of the link to your domain?

  • Jon, thanks for the great info! I especially like that you’ve included the limitations of the Domain Sponsored Stories so that we have a well-rounded understanding of how they work. Great post!

  • It can be triggered, Alex. Not always, but dependent on budget, bidding and targeting. You don’t have to force the ad to be shown to all friends, just the friends who are relevant to you.

  • Alex Koval

    Thank you for confirming Jon! Congratulations on a great article!

  • I can’t get Facebook to recognize the page, even when I put in head section by hand. Is anyone else having problems?

  • Angela Achieng

    my face book page doesn’t have the insight buttton…. i have been trying to get audience to our website but to no avail. Please help with some tips on how to go about it

  • This is new to me and I think the strategy has high potential of making your facebook promotion very successful.

  • Ramabhadran

    Great information on Domain sponsored stories. Thanks for sharing.

  • This is great! I get the feeling that this option hasn’t been widely advertised by Facebook and not many people are aware of that options. More varieties of the ads mean more testing and hopefully better results. Will definitely try on this approach, thanks Jon!

  • John Allred

    Your advice for facebook also applies to
    life. Sometimes some simple changes make your life better as well. Thanks.

  • i find its easy to spend a lot of money on facebook ads without getting much in the way of monetary return.