We all knew that Facebook paid features were going to arrive one day, but now that day seems closer than ever. With over 900 million users worldwide and its market debut, the social network is apparently seeking new ways of generating revenues, even if it means receiving those contributions directly from its' users.
As of now, regular users do not have to reach into their wallet so that their views and updates can be seen by their network. But, maybe that is about to change. Facebook is testing a new feature which, for different prices starting from $0 and going up to $2, individual users could promote their posts and increase their visibility to family, friends, and colleagues. Currently tested in New Zealand, if proven successful the ‘Highlighted posts’ item could make its appearance everywhere else very soon.
A Facebook spokesperson confirmed the new tool to the BBC, adding that the test was meant to “gauge people’s interest in this method of sharing with their friends.” Earlier this year, Facebook revealed during its Marketing Conference that only 12% of updates are seen by a users' friends; this is partly thanks to the Facebook algorithm that carefully sorts what important information should appear in our news feed. Now, maybe we should all be pleased to hear that they are on the verge of discovering a solution for our avatars to stay a little longer on the homepage and at the top of our friends news feed ... and all by simply paying for it.
Facebook has always been an interesting marketing tool for companies and the ‘pay to promote post’ already exists in the form of advertisements or other Facebook pages. But extending this system to everyone would not make sense. Indeed, it makes one wonder why average users would pay to promote their statuses, profiles, or vacation snap shots to their own relatives and friends. Unless, of course, you are willing to pay for some sort of narcissism.
It also somewhat falls in contradiction with the other recent Facebook developments. In fact, we currently have the possibility (that we never had before) to choose what we want to see or hide from our friends. But, unfortunately or fortunately with the ‘highlight’ everyone feature comes the possibility to view more posts but also to be more suceptible to spammers.
However, this feature could help Facebook overcome the site's reduced ad visibility; especially on the mobile site which has greatly helped the development of the company.
Although Facebook‘s registration is “free and always will be,” as indicated on the network homepage, if this little innovation sees the light of day, it might mark the end of the ‘all free’ era. This may be the beginning of a new Facebook era with dual functions; a new and improved version that will cost you, or the usual version for free.