Facebook's latest bid to increase its revenue, and subsequently its stock price, is through a recently announced feature that allows users to pay money to promote their friends' updates.
A pay-for-promotion model began on Facebook in October 2012, but only allowed users to promote their own content. Basically, by shelling out $7, Facebook users can have their posts pushed to the top of the Facebook newsfeed. The appeal is that the promoted post would then be the first one that other users see when they login to Facebook.
As PC World points out, the promoted post feature could help some noble causes:
Charity donations, fundraising, and publicizing events are just some uses of the new functionality that Facebook is highlighting.
"If your friend is running a marathon for charity and has posted that information publicly, you can help that friend by promoting their post to all of your friends," the company said.
But promoting a post only affects the newsfeeds of the same people who would have seen the post when it was first published, PC World says.
Can't Facebook users do that for free? A new update to Facebook shows up at the top of the users' friends' newsfeeds, anyway. If a Facebook user wanted to drive more attention to a charitable cause, wouldn't it be more economical to just re-share the post? Or, better yet, if someone thinks a particular post for a charitable or helpful cause didn't get enough attention the first time around, wouldn't it be more effective to create an entirely new, more attractive post?
Using new images, videos, or even a different description in a post that aims to share a link to a specific cause could be more effective than just spamming Facebook friends with the same exact post multiple times. Someone who may have missed a post asking for donations to a cause might be attracted to that same cause if the post looked different the second time around. But it could get annoying to see the same post every time you log on to Facebook.
If for charitable causes, wouldn't it just make more sense to donate that $7 to the cause, rather than pay Facebook to do something you could do for free?
Perhaps that's why Facebook said in a February 1st filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that the amount of money it had generated from its initial pay-for-promotion offering had "not been material."
Sign up for Computerworld eNewsletters.