Likely related to proving Facebook’s revenue potential prior to the IPO, the social network is testing out a new feature that charges users to highlight a recent post among their friends. Within the example pointed out by Stuff, the user could pay $1.80 to bring extra attention to a specific Facebook status update, photo or video. The user would pay by credit card or Paypal to complete the transaction, however there is no indication that the user will be able to see metrics like how many of their friends actually saw the post. According to Facebook, the company is testing a variety of price points including free, but the free sample may just be an attempt to attract more users into the program.
Responding to Stuff’s inquiry about highlighted posts, Facebook Communications & Policy manager Mia Garlick stated “We’re constantly testing new features across the site. This particular test is simply to gauge people’s interest in this method of sharing with their friends.” Facebook will not be accepting Facebook credits for this test, ideally structured this way to prove revenue generation.
Rather than testing this feature in the United States, Facebook appears to have chosen New Zealand as a “test bed” according to the supplied picture to Stuff, but it’s possible that users in other countries will see the feature soon.
According to a Facebook-supplied statement to Techcrunch earlier this year, the amount of friends that actually sees one of your status updates is around 12 percent. If a user does decide to pay to highlight a post, the selected post would likely remain at the top of their friend’s Facebook feeds for a specific amount of time. It’s also possible that Facebook could set a specific limit on the number of friends that see it prior to expiration. While the post do have a more effective position within the feed, the post won’t contain any form of extra shading to help it stand out from the rest of the feed.