If you want more people to see that pointless update of yours, does Facebook have a deal for you! The company is testing a new feature called “Highlight,” a paid option that will allow users to share their inane thoughts with more people. While I would guess that Facebook will continue to follow the marketing plan of anyone peddling their highly addictive wares, offering its basic networking services for free, with the company on the verge of going public expect it to find ways to extract more revenues out of its greatest resource…you.
It’s become so ingrained in our digital existence, I truly wonder what the estimated 800 million Facebook users would do if the social networking giant started charging money to utilize its services, as I have to think that Highlight is but the tip of the iceberg for Facebook’s plans to cash in on social networking addiction.
While the impetus behind a strategy to offer users a paid Highlight feature isn’t all bad—consider a call for blood donors, a lucrative apartment rental or any other important announcement bound by time constraints—the execution of the feature almost certainly will be, bringing to mind dark visions of my news feed cluttered with yet more mindless chatter that people are, sadly, willing to pay to share.
As one might guess, this whole project started with a focus on advertising. This past February Facebook unveiled its “Premium Ads” feature, ostensibly a double dip feature that allows Facebook to charge companies for posting ads and then charge them again for people to actually see them. The goal of the new advertising feature was to offer businesses a way of spreading their brand farther than the estimated 16 percent of the targeted demographic that actually sees the ads in the first place.
The goal of such a revamped advertising system is simple, as Facebook is poised to go public potential investors want to see additional revenue streams, hence the beta testing of these new pay-to-be-social feature, and its certainly the motivation behind Highlight as well.
“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,” which basically means that by adding a new paid share option Facebook is essentially telling users, “Not too many people see your very important Facebook updates. So pay us and we’ll make sure they do. Or at least we’ll try.”
In the end, being a company that appeals to the masses don’t expect any sort of exorbitant fees associated with the new Highlight feature. Instead, as Facebook moves forward as a publicly traded company look for it to make money the same way it always has, by nickel-and-diming its clientele.
That means that with the social network looking to continue to increase its revenue streams expect to pay a little for many of the new things Facebook will roll out over the next little while, a strategy that will unquestionably result in big dollars for the company and its investors. Truth be told though, if people fall for this cash grab ruse they deserve to be charged extra…now only if I could make money off having to read the upcoming deluge of updates.