Facebook’s decision to test a new feature that would allow users to pay a fee to promote their posts has received a mixed response, with one analyst attacking the idea as “the worst one yet” hatched by the social media giant.
Facebook has confirmed it is testing a new feature that would allow users to pay a set fee to make their posts more visible. The tests are being carried out in New Zealand.
“We’re constantly testing new features across the site,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement.
“This particular test is simply to gauge people’s interest in this method of sharing with their friends.”
If the testing proves successful, and paid post promotion becomes a feature of Facebook, it will represent Facebook’s first attempt to directly earn money from its 900 million-strong user base.
In an article for tech news site ZDNet, contributing editor Emil Protalinski said of all the different features Facebook has trialled on its website, this idea is “by far the worst one yet”.
“The potential new feature lets you pay a small fee to ensure that your story is visible to more of your Facebook friends,” Protalinski wrote.
“Paid post promotion already exists on Facebook. It’s called advertising. That’s what Facebook Pages are for, not Facebook profiles.”
Meanwhile, Telsyte research director Foad Fadaghi says while intrusive advertising doesn’t work – regardless of the platform – it comes down to how relevant the highlighted posts are.
“If, for example, the advertisement provides information and context – maybe highlighting an event around a particular music artist – it would certainly make sense in that context,” he says.
“I guess it comes down to what the person’s doing at the time and how influential the advertisement is going to be… It comes down to the product you have to sell.”
“For a small business person using Facebook, it could be interesting to see how much additional interest it generates for them. It might be worth experimenting to see how well it works.”
According to Protalinski, however, the feature would bring in “a new type of spammer – the one that not only ‘friends’ as many people as possible, but who also spams every single one of them”.
“If Facebook really wants to offer this feature, it should do so for free,” he said.
“There are many other ways it can limit its use, such as capping the number of posts you can highlight per month.”
“I have no problem with post promotion. I have a problem with paid post promotion. If this goes through, it will ruin Facebook.”
This article first appeared on StartupSmart.