Facebook tests 'pay to promote post' tool
5/11/2012 5:30:31 PM -
Facebook has started testing a system that lets users pay to highlight or promote posts.
By paying a small fee users can ensure that information they post on the social network is more visible to friends, family and colleagues.
The tests are being carried out among the social network's users in New Zealand.
Facebook said the goal was to see if users were interested in paying to flag up their information.
The tests of the "pay to promote" system were discovered by a Facebook user in Whangarei, reported New Zealand's news magazine Stuff.
At first, said Stuff, the user thought the offer to pay to promote a post was a con trick.
A Facebook spokesperson confirmed to the BBC the offer was genuine.
"We're constantly testing new features across the site," said the spokesperson. "This particular test is simply to gauge people's interest in this method of sharing with their friends."
Different methods of highlighting posts were being tested, said the spokesperson. These would see a range of charges being levied to make posts more visible. Comments on the tests suggest the highest price being charged was £1.25 ($2) while others cost 25p or 50p.
Payments could be made via credit card or PayPal.
The spokesperson said some of the methods it was trying out would incur a charge but others would highlight a post for free. The spokesperson would not be drawn on when the test would end or if it would be tried in other territories.
"We're going to see a lot more ideas like this where they are testing out different ways to try to make money," said Ian Maude, internet analyst at Enders Analysis.
Both Facebook's imminent stock market flotation and a recent slowdown in revenue growth were helping to concentrate its attention on ways to make money, he said.
"In the last few years their overall revenue has grown much more quickly than their audience," he said. However, he said, that rapid growth had slowed in the last six months and had perhaps prompted it to experiment.
The flotation will add more pressure, said Mr Maude but he added that the way the stock would be split could lighten that burden a little as Mark Zuckerberg would be left 57% of the shares.
"He's always said he wants to make money to run the company not run the company to make money," said Mr Maude.