Facebook has begun testing a new feature that would allow users to increase the visibility of their posts for a fee, in what appears to be a new bid to add more profitability to the social network.
“As part of a test starting today, people in the US can promote personal posts to their friends on Facebook,” the company said in a statement Wednesday.
“Sometimes a particular friend might not notice your post, especially if a lot of their friends have been posting recently and your story isn’t near the top of their feed,” it said.
“When you promote a post — whether it’s wedding photos, a garage sale, or big news — you bump it higher in news feed so your friends and subscribers are more likely to notice it.”
The option will be made available to users with fewer than 5,000 friends and subscribers, Facebook said.
Facebook did not specify the price of the new service, but TechCrunch.com said it would start at $7 per post, making it a potentially major source of profit for the social network, which counts 955 million members.
The testing began in New Zealand in May and has gradually spread to other countries.
A dismal stock market debut in May raised questions about Facebook’s profitability, and since then the company has said it is considering new revenue-generating schemes, including charging for some services.
Last month the company revamped its “Offers” service to require payments, starting at $5 per ad, for the deals offered through Facebook — making companies pay for what had been free advertising until now.
Facebook has also added a feature that lets users send real-life cupcakes, coffee, stuffed animals or other gifts to friends in the social network.
The “Gifts” program is being rolled out gradually, starting in the United States, and Facebook stands to get a fee for brokering purchases.
The world’s largest social network has seen its stock price sag since its market debut at $38 per share. Shares closed at $21.83 Wednesday.