Facebook today has announced the U.S. roll-out of a somewhat controversial feature they had been testing overseas that allows users to pay $7 to promote a post so that more of their friends will see it.
Tumblr has allowed publishers to do something similar for a little while now (you can either pin or promote a post for $2 or $5 respectively) and of course Facebook has allowed advertising in various forms for a long time, including, more recently, the ability to promote posts made by a fan page or place ads within the newsfeed.
This new feature is a departure because it encourages individual users (not brands) to pay for wider reach. With the caveat that ut remains to be seen how people will use this new feature and how their friends will react, I want to quickly highlight one interesting potential use case that came to mind.
Typically, buying an ad in the newsfeed is a fairly expensive proposition. And indeed even using Facebook’s promoted stories for fan pages can be pretty pricey (typically at least $50+).
TechCrunch reports that Facebook hopes people will use this new feature to promote wedding photos, garage sale announcements and the like. Maybe that will happen, but $7 seems kind of steep to ensure my friends see my garage sale announcement (see: Craigslist) or baby photos (see: Instagram).
But $7 is really not a lot of money to spread a message for a cause that you believe strongly in. So I wonder if there is a possible use for this new feature where nonprofits could encourage their most vocal advocates to post coordinated messages on their behalf and then pay for the increased visibility.
Done right, I think this could be considerably more effective than if the organization itself bought traditional Facebook advertising.
What do you think? Would this work? Or would it just be annoying? Leave a comment and let me know what you think.