Facebook is testing a feature to see if users will pay a couple bucks to have their status updates more prominently promoted on the social network.
First reported by Stuff.co.nz, part of the small test is occurring in New Zealand. The paid user posts would be placed atop news feeds and be marked as "Highlighted."
Pricing ranges from free to $2. Users can pay with a credit or debit card, PayPal, or Facebook Credits.
"This particular test is simply to gauge people's interest in this method of sharing with their friends," according to Facebook spokesperson Alex Hollander.
"We're constantly testing new features across the site," Facebook spokeswoman Mia Garlick told Stuff.co.nz. "This particular test is simply to gauge people's interest in this method of sharing with their friends."
What kinds of Facebook users might pay to advance their posts? Perhaps musicians with gigs coming up or journalists with breaking news stories or authors trying to push a public reading.
"The end user may well find it to be a very useful tool to gain visibility for messages that are important to them, and rise above the huge volume of comments that flow through the news feed," said Ethan Hays, search director at New York ad agency Gyro. "From Facebook's perspective, it's simply another advertising product and, a potentially a very lucrative one."
The development aligns interestingly with Facebook's IPO, which reportedly will come on May 18. While potential investors in the Menlo, CA-based digital giant aren't worried about its audience prowess, some are concerned about the company's ability to monetize.
"If I were an investor in Facebook, I'd be upset if they weren't building and testing products like this," Hays added. "Testing out incremental, non-invasive ad products is to be expected of a company like Facebook, whose core product is a technology-based marketing platform."