Offers, Reach Generator highlight alternative advertising options for Facebook marketers

Because calls to action and other business information are prohibited from being posted on companies' Facebook Timeline cover pages, some firms have expressed their frustration with the social network's local internet marketing initiatives, Entrepreneur magazine reports.

However, at a recent marketing conference in New York, company representatives discussed two alternative ways to extend advertisements to users, both of which use "engagement advertising" tactics - tapping into already trending content to provide an opportunity to broadcast company messages to a wider audience.

Facebook's Offers feature lets businesses, brands and page owners share discounts with fans. They can be posted to the company's Timeline just like a status update, and fans can claim the offers at brick-and-mortar or point of purchase locations.

An offer is different from a simple status update about a discount because it works in tandem with Sponsored Stories, where companies pay Facebook to put a "spotlight" on updates, offers or other posts, the media outlet explains. This increases the number of Facebook users who see the deal, since it appears in the news feeds of a business' fans as well as their friends.

The other announcement pointed to what's called a Reach Generator, the gist of which involves advertisers paying a fixed rate to ensure their content is viewed by 75 percent of fans. It was developed as an alternative to the pay-per-click model, and while its hefty price tag may only appeal to "deep-pocketed" brands at first, the news source suggests that a cheaper version for small businesses may be on the horizon.

TechCrunch adds that typical page posts only reach 16 percent of a company's Facebook audience, and Reach Generator plans to amend that by "blanketing" fans with a specific message.

"Reach Generator will shift the burden of ad targeting and measurement from brands to Facebook, and prevent advertisers from accidentally showing a single fan multiple ads while missing others," the media outlet states. "Reach Generator could become an important component of giant nation- or worldwide ad campaigns where brands typically buy tons of TV commercials."

One company that has already seen positive results from Reach Generator is ice cream brand Ben & Jerry's, which found the product delivered up to three-times return on investment and reached as many as 98 percent of fans.