Facebook now has a bunch of investors who aren’t exactly popping champagne corks over the company’s falling stock price. That means the company has to start making more money off its 900 million users.
Hence new products like Highlight, the pay-to-promote service that Facebook users first started seeing in New Zealand. The feature, which let you “highlight” a post for $2, was a test to “gauge people’s interest in this method of sharing with their friends,” according to a Facebook spokesperson.
Now, it appears a new more involved method of promoting your own posts has popped up here in the United States. Gizmodo noticed a tweet from music blog Gorilla vs. Bear showing what happened when blogger Chris Cantalini tried to share a song from Sydney band Holy Balm.
It gave him the option to pay anywhere from $15 to $100, reaching 5,800 and 39,000 people, respectively. While Cantalini wondered why he should pay $100 to reach 39,000 people when Gorilla vs. Bear’s Facebook page already has 37,000 followers, the truth, according to TechCrunch, is that only 12% of your friends see any one Facebook post. That might seem low, but it actually makes a lot of sense. If you actually saw everything your friends posted on Facebook, you’d be overwhelmed by information.
If you’re a business trying to advertise an event or an individual looking to sell something, it might be worth it to pay $100 so that all of your friends see your posts. On the one hand, those prices seem a little steep; on the other, if Facebook priced it too low, we would all be inundated with highlighted posts.
Until we see more examples of people actually being solicited to spend money promoting their Facebook content, it’ll be hard to say whether this is a good idea or if Facebook will even roll it out to the general public. It does show, however, that Facebook is serious about chasing other sources of revenue after its relatively disappointing public offering.
UPDATE (6:05pm): A Facebook spokesperson wrote to Techland to clarify the difference between Promoted Posts and Highlight:
Highlighting posts is currently just a test while the Promoted Posts feature (only available to Page admins) is a way to make it easier for small and medium-sized businesses to promote their content on Facebook. Page admins will be able to promote posts via a new button on the Page composer. Promoting a post will create a sponsored story or ad that enables the post to reach more of the Page’s fans. We want to make it as simple as possible for businesses to reach fans and their friends through their Page.