Facebook to cash in on your likes and check-ins

Dear Facebook: If you’re checking cheddar off my liking of Kerrygold, Nutella and Cadbury Creme Eggs in promoting them to my friends, I should at least get a cut. -Kim

From the files of “I cannot believe this took so long,” Facebook is going to start using your “likes” and check-ins to display “Sponsored Stories” to your flist in their sidebar from time to time. Each double-foam skinny half caf Caramel Soy Macchiato, Iced you share with your friends could represent a money-making opportunity for the social networking behemoth, announcing your preferences in a kind of mini-endorsement way.

While the stories will be clearly marked as “sponsored,” they will also have a higher propensity to be repeated to friends than plain old status updates- a tidbit you should keep in mind when sharing info that tags or mentions a brand likely to participate in the campaigns. If you couldn’t turn down a nosy co-workers friend request and said co-worker continually sees an old update about you dilly-dallying at Chipotle, that might not be very professionally advantageous, for instance.

Still, as far as privacy concerns and Facebook go, this isn’t all that egregious. If you’re the type that shares and draws information from your peers on services like Facebook, it can also provide a point of interest or better awareness of brands and services the people you tend to connect to share an affinity for. Jim Squires of Facebook’s marketing team commented on the service’s value to businesses:

“Currently, marketers don’t have the ability to know or plan word-of-mouth endorsements as part of their campaigns,” Mr. Squires said. “This gives a way for marketers to increase the visibility of stories about their organization… “this is word-of-mouth marketing at scale.”

Also notable is that the “Sponsored Stories” don’t filter for less than glowing feedback. So if you moan about ice-cold fries at your local McDonald’s, that information could be continuously posted to friends’ sidebars. Among companies that have already tested the program are Coca-Cola, Unicef and Levi’s.

Do you think you’re more likely to purchase or utilize a brand or service based on Facebook chatter?