How to get more value out of Facebook promotions by integrating Open Graph

Facebook Open Graph is often associated with frictionless sharing apps like Spotify or Washington Post Social Reader, but any application can use this protocol to amplify the reach of its user actions. So far, though, few in the marketing industry have taken full advantage of the new paid and earned media opportunities Open Graph offers.

A new case study from social marketing company Extole and Facebook advertising and analytics company Optimal, however, should convince marketers to think about Open Graph as more than cute custom verbs. The system fuels viral growth, stretching dollars and making campaigns work harder. Take this stat from a back-to-school campaign Extole and Optimal did for a children’s retailer:

For every one person who entered the sweepstakes after seeing a promotional message from the brand, 3.6 additional people entered as a result of social recommendations.

Specifically, 58 percent of unique entries came from users who saw organic Open Graph stories about their friends entering the sweepstakes. Another 11 percent came from users directly sharing the promotion with a friend, and 9 percent came from Sponsored Stories about a friend’s activity. Only 22 percent of unique entries came from people who discovered the promotion through brand posts, email and page post ads.

The campaign shows the power of combining Open Graph actions with custom Sponsored Stories to maximize the impact of a campaign. Virality has long been the appeal of promotions on Facebook, but many marketers discovered that it wasn’t so easy to get users to click the share button. With Open Graph, sharing is simplified so that apps can pick up more earned media from stories being published across News Feed, Ticker and Timeline. There’s also opportunity for brands to promote these actions in unique Sponsored Story formats.

For the back to school promotion, Extole created an “entered a sweepstakes” action that integrated with a tab application. Ads API company Optimal then turned these organic actions into “action spec” ad units in News Feed and in the sidebar. Few marketers have done this yet, but the structured format of Sponsored Stories makes them quite effective (see a mock-up below). With less than $5,500, Optimal’s campaign drove more than 2,500 unique entries and nearly 8,000 total entries since users could try again daily. Each of those entries resulted in additional earned media from Open Graph stories being shared and from users inviting their friends with direct messages on Facebook and Twitter.

Case Study Key Stats

Client: Children’s retailer with over 350,000 Likes

Campaign: Back to School Instant Win Sweepstakes (July 24 – Aug. 22). Enter daily to win a $100 gift card. Users who didn’t win could refer a friend via Facebook or Twitter. If friend wins, the referrer wins, too.


  • 27,641 unique sweepstakes entries, 79,243 repeat entries — each entrant participated an average 3.9 times
  • Custom Sponsored Story campaign drove 8 million impressions and 6,368 (0.08% CTR, $0.86 CPC, $0.68 CPM)
  • Sponsored Stories resulted in 2,579 unique entries and 7,979 total entries
  • Entrants shared the program with friends a total of 18,806 times via Facebook (14,589) and Twitter (4,217)
  • 106,884 organic Open Graph stories amplified across Facebook 53X, creating roughly 5.7 million earned impressions

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