Not too long ago, banner ads were the Internet's marketing method du jour. Web pages were designed with the thought that banners of various sizes would need to be accommodated, and eventually banner sizes became somewhat standardized throughout the industry. Even to this day, banner ads litter the Internet in an effort to capitalize on display advertising near otherwise popular content.
The more recent trend, however, especially popular amongst large social media outlets, is the integration of sponsored content with its regular user-generated content. Digg ads (Digg), Sponsored Tweets (Twitter), and now Sponsored Stories (Facebook) are bringing sponsored content to the masses whether the masses like it or not, which begs the question, "Do the masses like it?"
After all, advertising is most effective when tolerated (or at least not despised). And Facebook users aren't known for their readiness to change. So is paying for sponsored content on Facebook a good idea?
Maybe. The answer is tricky because it pertains to social media and advertising where the rules change, depending on the company. For example, local businesses fare well because their owners and employees are better known to their customers. In addition, national brands with a cool cachet can use their image to get away with advertising within social media.
The caution sign goes up, on the other hand, to businesses and companies that don´t have a hip vibe about them already. If your business is in the process of implementing a marketing strategy geared to succeed within the social media demographic, it's perfectly fine; however, failure is almost certain for businesses that are trotting out a tired message or anything lacking in imagination. And within the realm of social media, a business runs an extra risk of actually upsetting potential customers (unlike a boring magazine ad, for example).
So while providing the service of sponsor content may be a model for increasing revenue for Facebook and Twitter, decide wisely whether participating is also the same for your business.