By Priya Ramesh (@newpr)
Facebook’s new “HIGHLIGHT” feature leaked in New Zealand
TechCrunch calls it “Reckless New Ads Test”
At the Facebook Marketing Conference in Feb, Brian Boland, Director of Product Marketing, Facebook revealed that the average news feed story from a user profile reaches just 12 percent of their friends. Business Pages meanwhile only get 16% of their fans seeing each post, which is why Facebook launched its new “Reach Generator” to help marketers buy extra distribution of their Page posts on the ads sidebar, in the web and mobile news feed, and even on the logout page.
Fan Engagement Drops Post-Timeline Launch: Ever since Facebook launched its Business Timeline pages, brands have seen a significant drop in engagement. According to Facebook analytics tool EdgeRank Checker, the switch to Facebook timeline may have very little impact, period (regardless of brand size). EdgeRank analyzed 3,500 Facebook pages, comparing brands who had made the switch to Timeline (early adopters) and those who hadn’t. The results? 41% of brands that converted to Timeline saw increased engagement and fans, while 59% of these brands saw a decrease in those metrics. The data was remarkably similar to those brands that did not convert to Timeline: 38% saw an increase in engagement and fans, while 62% saw a decrease over the same time period.
So the jury is still out on whether the new Timeline is helping brands increase fan engagement. We at CRT/tanaka, have definitely seen fan engagement take a dip for several of our consumer clients that were enjoying steady engagement with “likes” and “comments” to status updates.
In the meantime, as repoted by TechCrunch and first spotted by Stuff, Facebook is currently testing a new feature called “HIGHLIGHT.” Facebook might charge its members US$2 to “highlight” important posts so they are more visible on the social networking site. The feature is being trialed and was chanced across by a Facebook user in Whangarei, New Zealand who initially assumed it might be a scam. However, Facebook spokeswoman Mia Garlick confirmed it was a new “feature” it was testing. Facebook released this official statement to TechCrunch on the “highlight” feature:
“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.”
$2 to highlight your status update doesn’t seem too much BUT the bigger question is, are brands going to start spamming us with the “highlight” feature? TechCrunch calls the new feature “a reckless new ads test.” According to TechCrunch, “Highlight could show Facebook’s willingness to try more aggressive ways of making money, which should delight potential investors. But Facebook is playing with fire here. The service has always been free for users, and a pay-for-popularity feature could be a huge turn off, especially to its younger and less financially equipped users who couldn’t afford such narcissism.”
With the pending IPO (scheduled this week) Facebook is under a lot of pressure to convince Wall Street investors about its long term revenue model and the ‘highlight’ feature seems somewhat of a gimmick to please investors.
The “highlight” feature if rolled out will reduce the general relevance of the news feed. Facebook’s news feed sorting algorithm is designed to show posts by your closest friends or that have received a lot of Likes and comments. Highlight distorts this, and will encourage news feed spamming club promoters, musicians, small businesses, or anyone else with something to gain from more clicks.
What’s your opinion on the “highlight” feature? Spammy or useful?