Is the world of social media about to change now that Facebook has started trialing a scheme charging users in New Zealand to highlight and promote their posts?
Now most of us will have learned to be wary based on panicked posts from friends falling for some hoax claiming the social media giant are about to start charging for their services, and it seems the people of New Zealand had grown equally skeptical, fearing the trial was a con trick.
But Facebook have confirmed this is indeed a genuine toe in the water test. The trial involves a range of charges up to £1.25 ($2) being made to guarantee that your posts are more visible with your contacts – a kind of Ad Words for your friends if you like.
Customers can make payments via credit card or PayPal, and the spokesperson would neither confirm or deny when the test would end or if it would be tried in other countries.
So what does this mean? Well with a $95 billion IPO in the pipeline and reports that the growth in Facebook users is starting to slow, it’s perhaps inevitable that Facebook will be looking for new revenue streams to utilise the enormous user base and brand equity.
Another consideration would be Facebook’s advertising and it’s sustainability as their main revenue stream, given it’s generally viewed as uncompetitive compared to Google Ad Words, at least in terms of click conversion rates.
So what next? Are subscriptions around the corner? Don’t panic just yet, Remember Friends Reunited made a fateful decision to start charging users and managed to turn away millions overnight, and then there’s Mr Zuckerberg himself, who will retain 57% ownership and has maintained he’s only making money to run the business not the other way around.
For the sake of our already over-stretched pockets let’s hope he sticks to his word…