A spokesperson confirmed that Facebook is testing a way for users to promote their post for a certain amount. The test is limited to a small number of users, and it features a “highlight” button next to Like and comment on the user’s post.
More About Highlighted Posts
By clicking the button, users will be taken through a payment process. The price ranges from free to $2, and users can pay via PayPal, credit card or Facebook Credits. The highlighted post will then appear on top of a friend’s News Feed.
The feature appears to be inspired by Tumblr. It was in February when the microblogging platform started its highlighted post feature. This enables users to make their content more noticeable in readers’ dashboards for $1. However, it seems odd for Facebook to take the same approach at this stage of their development.
It’s Free and Always Will Be… Not!
Although Facebook has been testing features that were not implemented worldwide, the highlighted post component comes in as surprise. There were previous rumors that the social media giant will charge for its services although it was stated on its homepage that “It’s free and always will be.” The fact that they are planning to ask users to pay for their posts fuels speculation and rants from other people.
Another thing that makes it odd is the upcoming Initial Public Offering. Facebook may be testing paid apps on its platform, but it seems unusual for them to implement new monetization strategies at this moment.
What Lies Ahead for Facebook’s Highlighted Posts?
In case highlighted posts will expand to more users, it only shows that users who enabled the feature are definitely interested about it. However, it’s difficult to get any data as of the moment to determine its value.
Nevertheless, there could be users who are willing to pay $2 to make sure that their friends will see their post. It could be a birthday announcement or a link for a fundraising activity. This could also be useful for small businesses for promoting their brand instead of using Pages and traditional ads.
If the feature is accepted by majority of the users, the social media giant is likely to expand its availability. In turn, highlighted posts will become a new revenue stream. Imagine every user in US, Canada and Europe—where Facebook generates a bulk of its revenue—were allowed to highlight one post every year. It could bring in an additional $858 billion of revenue to the search engine giant.
Unfortunately, it is still unknown what will happen to posts that were not highlighted. In addition, it seems out of character for Facebook to make a deliberate revenue grab ahead of its IPO filing.