I think it’s safe to say that the Facebook “WTF mom story” has reached urban legend status. I’ve read it and heard it told in first, second, and third person. I’m starting to hear variations of the story now, but they all essentially stem from the same premise. Somebody’s mom from somewhere has a Facebook page, and mom has misunderstood “WTF” to be an acronym for “With The Family.” Family members don’t have the heart or are enjoying the inside joke too much to tell mom the actual meaning. The story always ends with some wacky example of mom using “WTF” in a status update, “I enjoyed being WTF on vacation last week.”
This February, Facebook announced its new Premium Ad upgrade at the Facebook Marketing Conference in New York. Some are calling it a revolution in social advertising, others an infringement upon Facebook users. All the fuss is about Facebook allowing advertisers to purchase ads based on who “likes” their corporate content. Of course, being a social site, Facebook also provides advertisers access to friends of those who ”like.” The assumption being that “friends” create their own mini demographic.
These ads can show up anywhere on Facebook (not just in the ad space) such as status updates, photos, and video, which I don’t find so intrusive. What I did find intrusive is the use of the word “Sponsored” in the ads as though my friends and family have somehow financially endorsed a company or product. What would have been wrong with “liked by?” Facebook tells us that eventually even a person’s comments could be used as part of an ad.
Facebook is making some pretty big assertions about their new Premium Ads to advertisers. A press release claims these ads will have a 40% increase in engagement, 80% more likely to be remembered, and a 16% increase in familiarity rate. Time magazine did sum ciphering on a company with 40,000 “likes” potentially being able to reach 12 million like-minded people. This might be difficult for advertisers and social media pundits to wrap their heads around, but lest we forget, the scoffing that took place when Facebook predicted one billion “likes” in the first 24 hours of the little widget’s release in 2010. Today two billion posts are liked or commented on daily.
In true Facebook fashion, I noticed the premium ads well before the news of the change got to me. Another Zuckerberg “surprise!” I went to tag a photo and sure enough, my mom was “sponsoring” Target and Walmart. I wrote on mom’s wall, “hey mom, did you know you are now advertising for Target and Walmart?” She commented back, “I didn’t know Facebook was sharing my likes WTF.”