Facebook Launches Action Spec Preview Tool

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If you use Facebook, you are probably aware of sponsored stories. They're the little ads cloaked as Facebook status updates that appear on the right-hand side of the page. Even if sponsored stories are pretty unconventional as far as ads are concerned, they are still ads. They need to look good so people will want to click on them. That's why Facebook now has a preview tool to test how they will look.

Facebook announced the action spec preview tool as a way for developers to see how sponsored stories will show up in various parts of the Facebook environment. Action spec is the tool that allows developers to create the sponsored stories in the first place while targeting audiences on the Facebook platform.

The action spec preview tool has a couple of options in regards to testing out sponsored stories and how they're going to show up. The first is pretty simple because it just uses a drop down menu compiled with recent stories from your own news feed. The preview will then show you how the sponsored story will appear to users in either the news feed or on the right-hand side. There is also a robust Open Graph actions list so you can experiment with different actions to get the right combination set up.

The other is to just use the action spec. This tool is far more powerful in that it takes any story on the Graph and displays the preview while providing "the approximate number of actions, actors and actor's friends within the last week that mach the spec." With this tool, you can immediately target the right kind of audience with your sponsored stories.

Facebook suggests that developers should first experiment with their own news feed before getting into creating new kinds of sponsored stories and content. This should familiarize developers with the preview process while being able to see the kinds of sponsored stories the preview tool can create.

They also recommend that developers experiment with action spec selectors. Selectors are the action type and properties of the object that are associated with the action spec. In this part of the tool, you can select a specific action spec and it will display real stories that match that spec.

What I'm getting from all this is that developers should play around with the preview tool first before getting serious with it. There are a lot of options so it's best to start using it with your own news feed to see how everything works before you mess up an actual sponsored stories.

You can check out the new preview tool here. I've played around with it for a bit and it seems pretty good. I'm sure developers and businesses will get much more use out of it.

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