Would You Pay To Highlight Your Posts On Facebook?

General News
  • Monday, July 23 2012 @ 09:54 am
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Would you pay to have your status updates highlighted on Facebook?

For online daters, this system is old news. Many online dating websites offer the option of having a profile highlighted or ranked at the top in search results in exchange for a small additional fee. But for social networking sites, this is a new approach to interacting online.

Apparently only a measly 12% of your Facebook friends actually see your status updates on average. Facebook is now toying with the idea of adding Highlight, a feature that lets users pay a few bucks to have their posts appear to more friends. Facebook is currently testing the new feature out, offering a paid version to a small percentage of its user base. A free version is also available, designed to determine if Facebookers are at all interested in the Highlight option.

It might be a nifty new way to make sure your voice is heard by more people, but let's face it - Facebook's real motivation is the money. Facebook's worth is based on its potential for earning money, not actual money it earns, and the company needs to turn that around if it's going to continue receiving funds from investors.

It's likely that Facebook will now pursue more aggressive strategies for making money, a plan that could easily backfire for a service that members are used to using for free. Although there are no known plans to charge for all use of Facebook, pay-for-popularity features - and other paid features - could be major turn offs for users who were initially drawn to the site because it's free. Younger users - which make up a huge portion of Facebook's user base - may also be resistant to the inclusion of paid features, as they're less likely to have the financial resources to pay for them.

Facebook's diplomatic statement on the matter reveals very little:

"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."

The Highlight feature could prove useful, but it also poses potential problems. Highlighted posts could easily compromise the relevance of the news feed, which currently uses a sorting algorithm to display posts by a user's closest friends and posts that have received a significant number of Likes and comments. Highlight could distort that, and may turn your news feed into a marketing scheme from club promoters, small businesses, and anyone else who would benefit from increased attention.

I'm going to stay skeptical for now, but perhaps Facebook will surprise me. I'll do my best to keep an open mind.

To find out more about what makes this social networking site a good place to meet singles (or not) you can read our Facebook review.