Facebook tests button that lets page owners skip complicated ad dashboard, promote content directly from their pages

Facebook will test a new “promote” button that makes it easier for pages to create Sponsored Stories directly from their posts, a company spokesperson tells us.

The button will appear from the page publisher — the box from which page owners create posts — and on posts that have already gone live. The feature is aimed at small- to mid-sized businesses that are using Facebook for marketing, but don’t necessarily have the resources to work with a Facebook ad rep or third-party partner. The social network’s ad dashboard has become increasingly complicated with untraditional ad types like Sponsored Stories and page post ads, but the promote button could make ad creation much simpler.

The promote button will let page owners pay to give their content additional exposure to their fans. If fans interact with the content, their friends might see that activity as a Sponsored Story, but there is not currently a way for page owners to create an ad targeting non-fans using the promote button. They will have to use the self-serve ad dashboard or the Ads API to do that.

“Right now this is a very small test but we will continue to iterate on the feature based on feedback,” a spokesperson says.

Facebook has been gradually encouraging page owners to pay for distribution of their content, even among fans they formerly thought they could reach for free. As it turns out, the average page post only reaches 16 percent of fans, the company revealed in February. This is the result of users connecting to more people and pages, all of whom are generating more stories than ever before. Most people wouldn’t enjoy seeing every bit of their connections’ activity in News Feed, so Facebook uses EdgeRank to filter some stories out and highlight the ones that seem most relevant to each user.

Last year the social network introduced a new type of ad that turned page posts into Sponsored Stories. That was the first time the company began to encourage businesses to spend money on engaging existing fans, in addition to running campaigns to acquire new ones. Then at the Facebook Marketing Conference earlier this year, the company revealed Reach Generator, a premium advertising solution to help large brands reach their fans through Sponsored Stories within the mobile and desktop feeds, as well as through sidebar ads. The promote button is a simple way to foster the same strategy among smaller businesses.