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Would You Pay to Post on Your Facebook Wall?

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All eyes on Friday were on the Facebook IPO with analysts and investors still undecided about whether it makes sense to value a company with revenue of under $4bn at $104bn.

And one of the key questions is how Facebook will increase the amount of revenue they earn from advertising and other services. Which leads me to a little experiment they have been undertaking recently in New Zealand.

First, it's worth explaining that your Facebook news feed does not show you every single update or post that your friends make. It uses some clever algorithms to just show you the posts you might be most interested in seeing. You can choose to follow every single thing some friends are posting by making them 'close friends' but everyone I know who has tried that has found they are suddenly flooded with too many updates to read.

The experiment Facebook has been testing on Kiwis is to see if users would be prepared to pay a cash amount to ensure their status update is promoted - like a featured post that is certain to go to everyone in your network.

Many users involved in the experiment in New Zealand thought that it must be a scam when Facebook asked users if they wanted to make a cash contribution for posting on their own wall, but the company has confirmed that it is a genuine experiment.

Of course for most individuals it is not all that important for wall posts to be promoted, but your news feed is probably a mixture of updates from friends as well as updates from brands you have 'liked' in the past.

Many of those brands would love to ensure that their updates get widely distributed to all their fans - not just the ones that the update algorithm decides should see the update.

It's an interesting experiment, but if every brand started paying to force their updates up your newsfeed then won't we need to scroll down through pages of corporate updates before ever seeing what our real friends are up to?

This is one idea that might need to return to the drawing board, but with so much new cash flowing into the company post-IPO I guess they have a little time to figure out the future of advertising.

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