It seems that Facebook are once again trialling a new feature amongst a limited number of their users.
A small sample of iOS users have been given the option to add expiration dates to their Facebook posts. There appears to be seven options, ranging from a single hour to a whole week. After this time elapses, your post will disappear completely, never to be seen again.
This was first reported by The Next Web, who reached out to Facebook for clarification. They said: “We’re running a small pilot of a feature on Facebook for iOS that lets people schedule deletion of their posts in advance”
Well, they certainly could not have made it any clearer than that.
Facebook, Snapchat, & Slingshot
It’s hard to look at this time sensitive posting feature and not think of Snapchat.
Snapchat is a social media tool that allows users to share annotated photos which vanish forever after a short period of time. It’s an idea in which Facebook clearly see huge potential, as earlier this year they launched their own time-sensitive messaging app called Slingshot.
Slingshot is very similar to Snapchat, but with one huge difference: you are not allowed to view the messages you receive without first replying to them, a strange function that many believe simply does not work.
Now Facebook are experimenting with the idea of applying the ephermera principle to their main platform.
Call Now Or Miss Out!
Nothing may come of this. Facebook have often trialled new features, received a lukewarm response, and that’s the last we hear of them.
This is one feature, though, that could prove genuinely useful if it were to be rolled out for wider use. If you are a marketer, or you manage a Facebook account for a B2C business, time limited posts could provide a wealth of exciting opportunities.
The most obvious use would be in publicising time restricted sales, offers, events, coupons and contests. Never again would you have to worry about having to turn away disappointed customers who are trying to redeem an offer that expired in 2004. With these self-destructing posts, the evidence could disappear as soon as the offer ends.
More exciting, though, are the possibilities offered by the really time-restricted posts. If you regularly post unmissable special offers that are good for but a single hour, you’d likely notice a surge in your follower count. People would latch onto your business in their droves, terrified of missing out on the next offer.
You can’t buy that type of publicity. Which unfortunately means that Facebook will probably end up charging businesses for time-restricted posts.
Which may indeed explain why they’re trialling this idea in the first place.