All of these Facebook initiatives are similar, and consequently, are easily confused. They do however, all bring something interesting to the table, and used in conjunction with one another can be very, very effective. In the interest of being thorough, I will make this one part definition, and one part best practice.

PPC ADS:

Pay-Per-Click ads. Simply put, these are the ads you pay for that sit on the right side of a Facebook page to promote whatever it is that you are currently promoting, for whatever purpose (i.e., General Awareness, a Promotion, Your Website, etc.) The visual itself is 100px x 72px and you are allowed 90 characters within that space.

You can buy these and customize the “cost per” based on your goals. For example, if awareness is your goal, you may choose to optimize your budget in order to get the most possible impressions. If click-thru and action is your goal, you can optimize for highest possible click-thru rate.

BEST PRACTICES:
Single-focus images work best. Close-up faces call more attention. Showing a potential prize clearly invites the most click-thru rates.

SPONSORED ADS:

Sponsored ads are now populated every time you create a PPC ad. These are ads that (depending on what you specify) will show your promotion in a sponsored location saying “your friend” likes “x”. The click-thru and actionable rates of these typically far outperform the PPC because of the endorsement/word-of-mouth trust gained through mutual friends.

BEST PRACTICES:
I said before “depending on what you specify” because you CAN choose to not have the friend endorsements, but if you have a fan page with over 1000 fans, you should DEFINITELY choose this option.

The second part to be noted here is that if ACTION is the desired response, sponsored ads and PPC ads should be run concurrently. They run on the same budget per day and running them together completely ensures you the highest possible click-thru rate.

SPONSORED POSTS:

A sponsored post differs from a sponsored ad in that you pay a nominal fee to have a single wall post show up in the feeds of your existing fans. You can also have it show up on the feeds of
“friends of fans”, but if your goal is to reach new fans, you’re better off with Sponsored ads (see above) which usually run at a slightly lower cost.

BEST PRACTICES:
Described as “what happens when you fall out of the news feeds” in EdgeRank Blog Post, this is probably the most effective way to get yourself back onto your current fans’ news feeds.

HIGHLIGHTED POSTS:

This is an often misunderstood, if not virtually unknown, feature of the timeline. If you roll your cursor over your timeline post, two little boxes will appear. One of them will be a star. If you click this star, your current one-column post will now span both columns. You can do this to as many posts as you would like, there is no limit.

BEST PRACTICES:
Really great photos perform very well in this position. A few brands we’ve seen whose strategies revolve around photos do this for all their posts and they perform exceptionally.

PINNED POSTS:
This is another almost virtually unknown feature of the timeline. Again, if you roll your cursor over your timeline post, two little boxes will appear. One of them will be a pen. If you click on it and then click “pin to top” your post will now be highlighted as the first, most prominent post on your page. You can continue to post on your schedule and your new postings will be added below this pinned post. You can only do this to one post at a time.

BEST PRACTICES:
This is very useful for ongoing, featured discounts, promotions, contests, or general news.